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How To Check If Someone Has Been Arrested

Arrests are a daily occurrence. People get detained and the accused is brought and put in jail or prison. Whether you’re worried about an acquaintance or your employee has not come to work without notice, finding out if someone has been arrested is relatively easy.

If you know someone who is missing, after checking hospitals and other establishments, it is time to ask yourself if “have they been arrested?” In this article, we have highlighted the key points to know how to see if someone has been arrested in the united states.

The Basics

First, you must know the basic information about the person in question, this includes their legal name, to check the local arrest records then gradually check the state records. These details are crucial to finding out if someone has been taken into custody, imprisoned, or incarcerated.

Finding A Felon Or Inmate

The prison system is separated into different types of sections and facilities, these include state prisons, federal prisons, and county jails. The separation depends on the type of crime the felon is convicted on and the duration of the sentence.

  • Federal prison – This type of crime brings an inmate to federal prison.
  • State prison – While state law felony convicts are sentenced to a few years and is housed on state prisons.
  • County jail – For lesser crimes or those people who are convicted of misdemeanors are sentenced for more than a few months and are held in county jails.
  • Call your local police department
  • Call the police department with the use of a non-emergency number and talk to the assigned desk officer who usually answers the phone.
  • Though the information you may get from police departments varies, it can depend on how large the department is and how busy it is.
  • Larger and more active police departments may not release information regarding arrests over the phone.
  • Some police departments have specific phone numbers for people to call to find out if someone has been recently arrested.
  • You may visit the police department in person though they may not release or have any relevant information on the person you are looking for unless they were processed through that specific department.
  • Ask The Desk Officer

When visiting the actual police station, your first port of call should be the desk officer on duty since they are the ones that can provide you with the information of a person’s arrest.

  • Ask the desk officer if the person you are looking for has been arrested, they should be able to provide you with the needed information if they have been processed through that specific station.
  • In rural areas with smaller police stations, you may describe the person in question to find out if they got arrested with that information.
  • An arrest record is mandatory the moment the person is taken into custody, so if they have been arrested the police should have that information, even if the convict has not been taken to jail yet.

Contact the nearest jail

Besides calling the police department, another way to find out if someone has been arrested is to call the nearest jail to you, for a person’s records to appear in the jail record’s remember that it takes 24 to 48 hours for this information to be reflected in their records, so recent arrests may not be in the system yet.

Online Inmate Locator Service

Online research is also recommended when finding new arrestees in your specific location, however not every city provides online services to find a recent arrestee.

One way to locate and see if a person has been arrested, the federal prison system provides the public with an online inmate locator service.

Information required for this service are basic information such as

  • Name
  • Age
  • Race or Ethnicity
  • Sex or Gender

If the person you are looking for is not in the system you may check your state’s online inmate locator system to see if they have been arrested in a different city.

Public Law Enforcement Websites

Many cities, especially with populous areas, provide their arrest records online on searchable databases that are open to the public.

  • Search “arrest records” and the name of the county or city.
  • Including the state may narrow the results and make it easier for you to find out if a person has been arrested.
  • To ensure the website is official, look at the website’s URL if they contain a .us or .gov extension.
  • Accessing Online State Criminal Records

A person may also visit websites such as to conveniently search past criminal records all over the country that can help them in finding out if a person has been arrested or find an existing felon.

What Is A Criminal Record?

This is a documentation that is created when a person is convicted of committing a crime. These cover all different types of crimes such as misdemeanors, felonies, violations, and more.

What Do These Criminal Records Contain And How Can It Help Me?

These records also include relevant information regarding the arrest of an individual, the circumstances which lead to the arrest, personal information about the person arrested, and their inevitable trial and outcomes whether it results in incarceration, probation, guilty verdict, etc.

They differ depending on the state, municipality, county, or city the record is created in, all states having its own policies for creating, storing, and documenting their state records.

They contain information such as

  • Trial information – Conviction, Parole information, Probation information, and Sentencing.
  • Inmate information – Entry date, Bail information, Bond information, expected date of release, and the location of the detention facility the inmate is residing in.
  • Personal information – Name, birthdate, and other basic information regarding the convicted criminal.
  • Identifiers – To identify the felon easily with fingerprints, mugshots, weight, height, eye color, hair color, and ethnicity or race.
  • Arrest records and warrants
  • Further details – More details about the convicted crime.
  • Bond Agents

These agents have offices near local jails or criminal courts, and they have a lot of information about people who have been arrested.


There are many ways to find out if a person has been arrested in the united states with the evolution of technology, though old-fashioned calls and police department visits are still an option.

However, online searches, online inmate locator services, and official government or law enforcement websites that provide online criminal records are the easiest way to find out the person in question has been arrested, though this may prove to be difficult if you don’t have complete information about the person.


See also: 6 Reasons to run a Background Check

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