There are many possible reasons that can cause a person to wonder how to find out what someone was arrested for.
Viewing someone’s crimes (or alleged criminal activity) is not just crucial when conducting a personal background check on someone without their permission (such as checking out a church volunteer who’s working with your kids or learn about someone who just moved into your neighborhood)
It’s also important for job applicants who want to get a copy of their criminal record to see what, if any arrests or pending arrests will show up on a background check.
Knowing exactly what shows up on a background check can help avoid future consequences of failed background check.
But, viewing crimes isn’t as difficult as many people think. For the most part, it doesn’t require a huge amount of time or effort. In fact, when using a free trial background check service, the results can be instantaneous.
However, to get the most accurate results (and how to find recent arrests), there are some simply steps that anyone can follow to find local, state, or federal arrest records swiftly and easily.
This guide outlines all the steps involved.
Related Reading: How to Find Old Arrest Records
How To Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For Free
To view someone’s crimes, the most direct avenue is to obtain access to the police report. Many people wonder, ‘do police reports show up on a background check,’ and although the answer can depend on state laws and the type of report (for example, a 72 hour hold won’t necessarily show up unless it is connected to an arrest), for the most part, yes.
Because these reports are considered public, the information is available to search.
The reason for the arrest will be documented within the police report which can be obtained by request from the arresting office.1 More information on this process is explained below.
How Do I Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For in All 50 States?
Most arrests are executed by either the State Highway Patrol or State Police Department. Therefore, these are the best place to start when learning how to find out what someone was arrested for, regardless of which state.
Related Reading: Will a recent arrest show up on a background check?
Follow these steps to access arrest records:
Step 1: Google State Highway Patrol, Department of Public Safety, or State Police Department for the specific state of interest
For example, if an arrest was made in Texas, Google “Texas Highway Patrol,” or alternately, use the link provided in the table below.
Clicking the services button or “reports,” or “requests” are often the links on the Highway Patrol website that provide instructions about what someone was arrested for.
Step 2: Search the website for a criminal record request form
For example, on the Texas Highway Patrol website, there is a menu at the top of the website with “Forms” listed as an option. Click “Forms” and search for criminal records.
Not all websites have forms to fill out. Some allow users to search arrest records online using a database platform.
Worst case scenario, if a form is not readily available on the website, use the “Contact Us” option to call the agency and request the form of a criminal record.
Step 3: Print and fill out criminal request form
Complete the request form with the identifying information for the person of interest.
Step 4: Mail completed form to the indicated mailing address
On the mail-in form for Texas Highway Patrol, the address is listed at the bottom of the document.
An in-person visit to the arresting office is another option, though likely a less convenient one.
Related Reading: Do dismissed charges show up on a background check?
The table below lists the State Highway Patrol and/or Police Department websites for each state.
How Do You Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For Locally?
When wondering how to find out what someone was arrested for locally, look to local agencies.
The local agencies that may execute an arrest warrant include the county sheriff’s department and the city police department. These agencies are distinct because a Sheriff is a locally elected official while a police officer is a federal employee. Both are excellent resources for local criminal records.
Related Reading: Do warrants show up on background checks?
To contact the local sheriff’s office for arrest records, follow these steps:
Step 1: Google the Local Sheriff’s Office Where the Arrest Occurred
For example, if someone was arrested in Atlanta, GA, type in “Sheriff’s Office Fulton County, GA” in any browser.
(Hint: Knowing the county of the arrest is crucial for contacting the sheriff’s office.)
Related Reading: Do arrests without conviction show up on a background check?
If the arrest occurred somewhere unknown, the state-wide option should be the first step.
Step 2: Explore the options available
On the Fulton County website, a quick review shows that there are links to “jail” and “open records requests,” as well as contact information that can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
The “jail” link is going to be one of the best options for finding out if someone was arrested, but not necessarily the best for how to find out why someone was arrested.
Step 3: Search “Jail” or make an official request using a criminal records form
While some sheriff’s offices may have information about why an arrest was made at their jail links, not all will. In that case, use the contact information combined with an arrest record request form.
Then submit the form as instructed (usually digitally using an email). This is also an excellent way for how to find out if someone is a felon.
For searching the police department, follow these steps:
Step 1: Google the city police department where the arrest occurred
For example, if someone was arrested in Phoenix, AZ, type in “Phoenix, AZ Police Department” in any browser.
Step 2: Click on “Public Records” or find “Contact Us” information
For example, the Phoenix PD has a top menu with “Public Records” listed. Click on this option. A new screen will appear with more options.
Step 3: Select “Police Reports”
Phoenix PD’s website provides a list of options. Under “Police Department,” the first menu option is “Police Reports.”
Step 4: Submit a request for a police report
Many police department websites, including the Phoenix PD, have electronic systems for requesting records and tracking the status of requests. If there is not an electronic system, search for a document to print or contact the agency for the next steps.
Related Reading: Do dropped charges show up on a background check?
The following table lists each state’s most populated city with links to the county Sheriff’s office and city police department.
|State’s Largest City||Sheriff’s Office Arrests||Police Dept. Arrests|
|Huntsville, Alabama||Madison County Sheriff’s Office||Huntsville Police Dept.|
|Anchorage, Alaska||Anchorage County Sheriff’s Department||Anchorage Police Dept.|
|Phoenix, Arizona||Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office||Phoenix Police Dept.|
|Little Rock, Arkansas||Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office||Little Rock Police Dept.|
|Los Angeles, California||Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.||Los Angeles Police Dept.|
|Denver, Colorado||Denver County Sheriff’s Dept.||Denver Police Dept.|
|Bridgeport, Connecticut||Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office||Bridgeport Police Dept.|
|Wilmington, Delaware||New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office||Wilmington Police Dept.|
|Jacksonville, Florida||Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office||Jacksonville Police Dept.|
|Atlanta, Georgia||Fulton County Sheriff’s Office||Atlanta Police Dept.|
|Honolulu, Hawaii||Honolulu County Sheriff’s Office||Honolulu Police Dept.|
|Boise, Idaho||Ada County Sheriff’s Office||Boise Police Dept.|
|Chicago, Illinois||Cook County Sheriff’s Office||Chicago Police Dept.|
|Indianapolis, Indiana||Marion County Sheriff’s Office||Indianapolis Police Dept. |
|Des Moines, Iowa||Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office ||Des Moines Police Dept. |
|Wichita, Kansas||Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office||Wichita Police Dept. |
|Louisville, Kentucky||Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office||Louisville Metro Police Dept.|
|New Orleans, Louisiana||Orlean’s Parish Sheriff’s Office||New Orleans Police Dept.|
|Portland, Maine||Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office||Portland Police Dept.|
|Baltimore, Maryland||Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office||Baltimore Police Dept. |
|Boston, Massachusetts||Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office||Boston Police Dept.|
|Detroit, Michigan||Wayne County Sheriff’s Office||Detroit Police Dept.|
|Minneapolis, Minnesota||Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office||Minneapolis Police Dept.|
|Jackson, Mississippi||Hinds County Sheriff’s Office||Jackson Police Dept.|
|Kansas City, Missouri||Jackson County Sheriff’s Office||Kansas City Police Dept.|
|Billings, Montana||Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office||Billings Police Dept.|
|Omaha, Nebraska||Douglas County Sheriff’s Office||Omaha Police Dept.|
|Las Vegas, Nevada||Clark County Sheriff’s Office||Las Vegas Police Dept.|
|Manchester, New Hampshire||Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office||Manchester Police Dept.|
|Newark, New Jersey||Essex County Sheriff’s Office||Newark Police Dept. |
|Albuquerque, New Mexico||Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office||Albuquerque Police Dept. |
|New York City, New York||Brooklyn County Sheriff’s Office||New York City Police Dept.|
|Bronx County Sheriff’s Office|
|Manhattan County Sheriff’s Office|
|Queens County Sheriff’s Office|
|Staten Island County Sheriff’s Office|
|Charlotte, North Carolina||Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office||Charlotte Police Dept. |
|Fargo, North Dakota||Cass County Sheriff’s Office||Fargo Police Dept. |
|Columbus, Ohio||Franklin County Sheriff’s Office||Columbus Police Dept. |
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office||Oklahoma City Police Dept.|
|Portland, Oregon||Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office||Portland Police Dept. |
|Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Philadelphia County Sheriff’s Office||Philadelphia Police Dept.|
|Providence, Rhode Island||Providence County Sheriff’s Office||Providence Police Dept.|
|Charleston, South Carolina||Charleston County Sheriff’s Office||Charleston Police Dept.|
|Sioux Falls, South Dakota||Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office||Sioux Falls Police Dept.|
|Nashville, Tennessee||Davidson County Sheriff’s Office||Nashville Police Dept. |
|Houston, Texas||Harris County Sheriff’s Office||Houston Police Dept.|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||Salt Lake City-County Sheriff’s Office||Salt Lake City Police Dept.|
|Burlington, Vermont||Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office||Burlington Police Dept.|
|Virginia Beach, Virginia||Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office||Virginia Beach Police Dept.|
|Seattle, Washington||King County Sheriff’s Office||Seattle Police Dept.|
|Charleston, West Virginia||Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office||Charleston Police Dept.|
|Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office||Milwaukee Police Dept.|
|Cheyenne, Wyoming||Laramie County Sheriff’s Office||Cheyenne Police Dept.|
How To Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For When Charges Are Unknown
Even when specific charges are unknown, the police reports can still be requested using additional information such as:5
- Individual’s last name
- Date of arrest
- Report number
- Arresting officer
There are also steps that can be taken to do a federal warrant search, which can help anticipate an arrest as long as the indictment hasn’t been sealed. (Related Reading: How to check if you have an indictment)
There are many avenues to obtain an individual’s criminal record when there is cause for concern. When suspicion creates feelings of unease or fear of harm, consult these resources on how to find out what someone was arrested for and view their crimes instantly.