How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record? (Easy Trick to Find Out)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | October 26, 2022

Man standing on the right holds up a big magnifying glass to a computer screen that shows his arrest record and on the left his class graduation yearbook, and he wonders how long does an arrest stay on your record.

With more employers than ever conducting background checks on applicants, many people wonder how long does an arrest stay on your record?

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out right now. Simply do a background check on yourself to see what shows up.

Interestingly, since each state has its own requirements about whether a background check will show arrest records, there are quite a few different laws and other factors to consider.

Fortunately, it’s also easy to look up how long does an arrest stay on your record pretty quickly, using the free information below.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

Many individuals are understandably confused about what is on their criminal record and what information will show up on a background check and have an impact on employment opportunities. One of the reasons that this is so complicated is because not only do various employers perform background checks differently but there are also state laws to consider when trying to determine what kind of information the employer will have access to.

When it comes to background checks, specifically criminal history checks, there are two basic types that various employers will use. The first is what most private employers will use such as companies like Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart. This is commonly referred to as a private background check because it is performed by a private, for-profit company.

These companies will rely on public information such as court and law-enforcement records that are made available through the freedom of information act.1

Screenshot of FBI website page for Freedom of Information and Privacy Act with yellow arrow pointing to information about access to criminal records in accordance with Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.

The Freedom of Information Act outlines the differences between private and public records, and how privacy is ensured.

Since these are private companies and not government agencies, they will need to abide by both the background check laws outlined by the FCRA,2 as well as the state laws regarding criminal history information and other laws related to background checks.

On the other hand, there are official background checks. These will be performed by government agencies such as the State police, the state department of public safety, or federal agencies such as the FBI.3 These types of background checks are less common and are mostly used to screen employees for government jobs such as teachers.

There are also jobs that, although with a private employer, have strict government regulations which require employees to undergo an official background check with the FBI. Healthcare workers are the most notable example of this. The main thing that separates an official background check from a private background check is the information the background checker will have access to.

Federal background checks, such as those performed by the FBI do not need to abide by state laws that would otherwise prevent certain information from appearing on the background check.

For example, certain state laws allow some criminal records to be automatically sealed from the public after a certain amount of time. This would make the record invisible to a private background check company, but an FBI Identity History Summary Check would be able to uncover this information.4

All of this must be considered when determining “how long does an arrest stay on your record?” For the most part, the answer will be forever, however many states will have laws that automatically seal these records or at least allow the individual to petition to seal arrest records after a certain amount of time has passed or other conditions are met.

With that being said, official background checks will almost always have access to an individual’s entire criminal history

How Long Does It Take for an Arrest To Come Off Your Record? (How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Record?)

As mentioned above, it is possible to get an arrest removed from your record, making it invisible to private background checks, which is what the vast majority of employers will use to screen employees. How this is done will depend heavily on the state, the crime that was committed, and whether the arrest ultimately resulted in a conviction.

Use the chart below to get an idea of when arrest records are eligible to be sealed in each state.

 

How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record by State?Waiting Period Before Record Is Eligible For Sealing or Expungement
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Alabama (AL)Alabama (AL): Indefinite
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Alaska (AK)Alaska (AK): Indefinite
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Arizona (AZ)Arizona (AZ): 2 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Arkansas (AR)Arkansas (AR): 5 years for conviction. 1 year for non-conviction
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in California (CA)California (CA): 7 years at most
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Colorado (CO)Colorado (CO): 1 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Connecticut (CT)Connecticut (CT): Usually 3 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Delaware (DE)Delaware (DE): 1 year for non-convictions. 3 – 10 years for most convictions
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Florida (FL)Florida (FL): Indefinite
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Georgia (GA)Georgia (GA): 4 years for non-convictions, indefinite for convictions
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Hawaii (HI)Hawaii (HI): Indefinite
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Idaho (ID)Idaho (ID): 1 year for non-convictions, Indefinite for convictions
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Illinois (IL)Illinois (IL): 3 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Indiana (IN)Indiana (IN): 1 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Iowa (IA)Iowa (IA): 8 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Kansas (KS)Kansas (KS): 3 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Kentucky (KY)Kentucky (KY): 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Louisiana (LA)Louisiana (LA): 10 years for felonies, 5 years for misdemeanors
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Maine (ME)Maine (ME): 4 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Maryland (MD)Maryland (MD): 10 – 15 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Massachusetts (MA)Massachusetts (MA): 3 – 7 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Michigan (MI)Michigan (MI): 3 – 7 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Minnesota (MN)Minnesota (MN): 2 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Mississippi (MS)Mississippi (MS): 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Missouri (MO)Missouri (MO): 1 – 3 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Montana (MT)Montana (MT): 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Nebraska (NE)Nebraska (NE): 1 – 2 years for non-convictions, indefinite for convictions
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Nevada (NV)Nevada (NV): 1 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in New Hampshire (NH)New Hampshire (NH): 1 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in New Jersey (NJ)New Jersey (NJ): 3 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in New Mexico (NM)New Mexico (NM): 2 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in New York (NY)New York (NY): 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in North Carolina (NC)North Carolina (NC)  10 – 20 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in North Dakota (ND)North Dakota (ND): 3 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Ohio (OH)Ohio (OH): 1 – 3 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Oklahoma (OK)Oklahoma (OK): 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Oregon (OR)Oregon (OR): 3 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania (PA)Pennsylvania (PA): 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Rhode Island (RI)Rhode Island (RI): 5 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in South Carolina (SC)South Carolina (SC): 3 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in South Dakota (SD)South Dakota (SD): 5 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Tennessee (TN)Tennessee (TN): 5 – 15 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Texas (TX)Texas (TX): 2 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Utah (UT)Utah (UT): 3 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Vermont (VT)Vermont (VT): 5 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Virginia (VA)Virginia (VA): 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Washington (WA)Washington (WA): 3 – 10 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in West Virginia (WV)West Virginia (WV): 1 – 5 years
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Wisconsin (WI)Wisconsin (WI): Indefinite
How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record in Wyoming (WY)Wyoming (WY): 5 – 10 years

How To Find Out if Someone Was Arrested

The most reliable way to find out if someone was arrested is to use a public records search of the individual’s name to view their criminal history. This can easily be done using the free public records search at the top of this page. There are also tons of online background check companies that can perform criminal history checks for a fee.

How To Find Out Why Someone Was Arrested

If you have suspicions that someone may be convicted of crimes, learning how to find out why someone was arrested might be helpful. When viewing someone’s criminal record, the official reason for arrest should be included as part of the arrest record. This may not tell the entire story but between the arrest record and any conviction information, it should be fairly simple to deduce the specific reason for the arrest.

How To Find Recent Arrests

Knowing about what’s in your record is really important and one question you should ask yourself is how to find recent arrests. Although arrest records are public information, law enforcement agencies don’t normally publish arrests as they occur in a specific place. Individuals wanting to obtain recent arrest records will need to request them from law enforcement or the courts.

How To Find Old Arrest Records

State laws that seal arrest records will be the biggest obstacle in obtaining old arrest records. There will be no way around sealed records unless the individual the records belong to is the requester. Otherwise court and law enforcement records normally go back several decades at the very least.

 

Use the list below to learn how to find old arrest records in all 50 states.

Arrest Records by StateState Police Background Check Background Check
Arrest Records Alabama (AL)State Police Background Check Alabama (AL)
Arrest Records Alaska (AK)State Police Background Check Alaska (AK)
Arrest Records Arizona (AZ)State Police Background Check Arizona (AZ)
Arrest Records Arkansas (AR)State Police Background Check Arkansas (AR)
Arrest Records California (CA)State Police Background Check California (CA)
Arrest Records Colorado (CO)State Police Background Check Colorado (CO)
Arrest Records Connecticut (CT)State Police Background Check Connecticut (CT)
Arrest Records Delaware (DE)State Police Background Check Delaware (DE)
Arrest Records Florida (FL)State Police Background Check Florida (FL)
Arrest Records Georgia (GA)State Police Background Check Georgia (GA)
Arrest Records Hawaii (HI)State Police Background Check Hawaii (HI)
Arrest Records Idaho (ID)State Police Background Check Idaho (ID)
Arrest Records Illinois (IL)State Police Background Check Illinois (IL)
Arrest Records Indiana (IN)State Police Background Check Indiana (IN)
Arrest Records Iowa (IA)State Police Background Check Iowa (IA)
Arrest Records Kansas (KS)State Police Background Check Kansas (KS)
Arrest Records Kentucky (KY)State Police Background Check Kentucky (KY)
Arrest Records Louisiana (LA)State Police Background Check Louisiana (LA)
Arrest Records Maine (ME)State Police Background Check Maine (ME)
Arrest Records Massachusetts (MA)State Police Background Check Massachusetts (MA)
Arrest Records Maryland (MD)State Police Background Check Maryland (MD)
Arrest Records Michigan (MI)State Police Background Check Michigan (MI)
Arrest Records Minnesota (MN)State Police Background Check Minnesota (MN)
Arrest Records Mississippi (MS)State Police Background Check Mississippi (MS)
Arrest Records Missouri (MO)State Police Background Check Missouri (MO)
Arrest Records Montana (MT)State Police Background Check Montana (MT)
Arrest Records Nebraska (NE)State Police Background Check Nebraska (NE)
Arrest Records Nevada (NV)State Police Background Check Nevada (NV)
Arrest Records New Hampshire (NH)State Police Background Check New Hampshire (NH)
Arrest Records New Jersey (NJ)State Police Background Check New Jersey (NJ)
Arrest Records New Mexico (NM)State Police Background Check New Mexico (NM)
Arrest Records New York (NY)State Police Background Check New York (NY)
Arrest Records North Carolina (NC)State Police Background Check North Carolina (NC)
Arrest Records North Dakota (ND)State Police Background Check North Dakota (ND)
Arrest Records Ohio (OH)State Police Background Check Ohio (OH)
Arrest Records Oklahoma (OK)State Police Background Check Oklahoma (OK)
Arrest Records Oregon (OR)State Police Background Check Oregon (OR)
Arrest Records Pennsylvania (PA)State Police Background Check Pennsylvania (PA)
Arrest Records Rhode Island (RI)State Police Background Check Rhode Island (RI)
Arrest Records South Carolina (SC)State Police Background Check South Carolina (SC)
Arrest Records South Dakota (SD)State Police Background Check South Dakota (SD)
Arrest Records Tennessee (TN)State Police Background Check Tennessee (TN)
Arrest Records Texas (TX)State Police Background Check Texas (TX)
Arrest Records Utah (UT)State Police Background Check Utah (UT)
Arrest Records Vermont (VT)State Police Background Check Vermont (VT)
Arrest Records Virginia (VA)State Police Background Check Virginia (VA)
Arrest Records Washington (WA)State Police Background Check Washington (WA)
Arrest Records West Virginia (WV)State Police Background Check West Virginia (WV)
Arrest Records Wisconsin (WI)State Police Background Check Wisconsin (WI)
Arrest Records Wyoming (WY)State Police Background Check Wyoming (WY)

Some individuals may suspect that someone they know has a warrant for their arrest and will want to check any active arrest warrants at the federal level.

Screenshot of U.S. Marshals Service website page for Freedom of Information Act with yellow arrow pointing to list agencies associated with U.S. Marshal Service.

Federal arrest warrant searches are performed through the U.S. Marshals service, which allows access to permitted users only.

The easiest way to do this is to look at the FBI’s fugitive list or contact the U.S. Marshal warrant information system.5,6

How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Record? (Do Arrests Show Up on Background Checks?)

Arrests will show up on background checks unless prevented by state law or if the record has been sealed. Most individuals asking “How long does an arrest stay on your record ?” will be wondering if arrests show up on background checks. Most background checks will uncover arrest records as well as conviction information.

Do Arrests With Conviction Show Up on Background Check?

If a conviction for a crime appears on a background check the related arrest will be included as well as part of the background check information.

If Charges Are Dismissed Do You Have a Criminal Record?

A common question that people ask themselves when they wonder what appears on their record is if charges are dismissed do you have a criminal record?

If an individual is arrested, even if the charges are later dismissed, they will have this information on their criminal record. However, the effects of an arrest without a conviction will have a minimal effect on future background checks. It is also possible to get non-conviction arrest records sealed in most states.

If You Are Charged But Not Convicted Does It Go on Your Record?

Charges as well as convictions will appear on criminal records. In general, it is relatively easy to get dropped charges sealed and thus make them invisible during background checks.

Do Arrest Records Ever Go Away?

Arrest records will eventually go away when it comes to private background checks in most states. Steps might need to be taken to get these records sealed but most states have some path to getting arrest records sealed, especially those that did not result in a conviction.

When it comes to official background checks, arrest records will almost always be present to government agencies performing criminal history checks.

Does Your Criminal Record Clear After 7 Years? (How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record?)

The idea that your criminal record is cleared after 7 years is a common misconception. Some states have laws known as the 7-year-rule which seal records after 7-10 years. However, only a handful of states have adopted these laws and most states do not ever clear criminal records.

Related Reading: 10 Year Background Check States: 39 States That Use 10-Year Limit (List)

Can an Arrest Record Be Expunged?

Getting arrest records expunged will depend on state laws. The laws vary widely and while some states make the process fairly simple, many states offer very few paths to getting records sealed or expunged.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record

For the most part, the process of getting a record expunged will involve a petition to have the record sealed with the courts.

Screenshot of California Courts for clean your records with yellow arrow pointing to expungement process in California.

Most states make learning how to expunge an arrest without conviction easy on their Justice Department websites, which makes it easier for removing arrest records from your background check.

The steps vary from state to state but for the most part, special conditions must be met such as how much time has passed since the arrest.

Do Misdemeanors Go on Your Record?

Misdemeanors and above will always appear on a criminal record. Many individuals with questions like how long does an arrest stay on your record will also be wondering about misdemeanors effects on their record.

Misdemeanors are slightly harder to get removed from a record compared to arrests. However, it is possible in many states to get a misdemeanor record sealed.

Will a Felony Show Up on a Background Check After 10 Years?

Felonies will usually be on a background check forever. Notable exceptions are felonies that were overturned and then sealed, or felonies committed more than 10 years ago in 7-year states. However, they will still show up on a federal background check if this is the case.

Not knowing what will show up on a background check can be scary, especially for individuals who have been arrested and have questions like “how long does an arrest stay on your record,” as always the best thing to do in this scenario is to run a background check on yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record

How Long Does Arrest Stay on Record?

Arrests will stay on your record forever in most cases, unless the record was sealed in which case it will only be accessible by government agencies.

How To Find Someone Who Was Arrested?

People may want to know about a specific individual. Knowing how to find someone who was arrested is one way to learn more about them. Individuals searching for arrest records can use the public records search at the top of this page or contact local law enforcement.

How To Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For?

If you wish to help someone who was arrested, then knowing how to find out what someone was arrested for is necessary. When viewing arrest records obtained through the courts or law enforcement, the reason for the arrest will be listed as part of the arrest record.

How Long Does an Arrest Stay on Your Background Check?

Arrests will stay on background checks forever in most cases. Arrests that did not result in convictions are often eligible for sealing.

Do Misdemeanors Go Away After 7 Years?

Misdemeanors will only go away after 7 years in seven year states. Otherwise the record will be available forever.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Once it has passed the retention time established for each state, one could wonder, how long does a misdemeanor stay on your record? Misdemeanors will usually stay on your record forever unless a state law allows the record to be sealed or expunged.


References

1Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2022, August 30). Freedom of Information/Privacy Act. FBI Records. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/need-an-fbi-service-or-more-information/freedom-of-informationprivacy-act>

2Federal Trade Commission. (2013, July 19). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Statutes – FCRA. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act>

3Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2022, March 31). Homepage. FBI Homepage. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/>

4Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016, May 3). Identity History Summary Checks. Identity History Summary Checks (Rap Sheets). Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/need-an-fbi-service-or-more-information/identity-history-summary-checks>

5Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016, July 29). Fugitive List. FBI Fugitives. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/fugitives>

6U.S Marshals. (2020, August 27). Warrant Information System. FIA – Warrant Information System. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.usmarshals.gov/freedom-of-information-act/reading-room/warrant-information-system>

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