How to Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For (View Their Crimes)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | May 12, 2022

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.

Missouri highway patrol website screenshot which can be used to for how to find out what someone was arrested for free or to answer how do i find out what someone was arrested for.

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.

Texas dept of public safety arrest record request form screenshot used when asking how do you find out what someone was arrested for.

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. 

State Where Arrest OccurredState Highway Patrol (Dept. Public Safety DPS)State Police Department
AlabamaAlabama Highway PatrolSame as DPS
AlaskaState of Alaska Department of Public SafetyAlaska State Troopers
ArizonaArizona Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
ArkansasArkansas Department of Public SafetyArkansas State Police
CaliforniaCalifornia Highway PatrolSame as DPS
ColoradoColorado State PatrolSame as DPS
ConnecticutConnecticut State Department of Emergency Services and Public ProtectionDivision of State Police
DelawareSame as State PoliceDelaware State Police
FloridaFlorida Highway Safety and Motor VehiclesFlorida Department of Law Enforcement
GeorgiaGeorgia Department of Public Safety – Georgia State PatrolSame as DPS
HawaiiState of Hawaii Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
IdahoSame as State PoliceIdaho State Police
IllinoisSame as State PoliceIllinois State Police
IndianaSame as State PoliceIndiana State Police
IowaIowa State PatrolSame as DPS
KansasKansas Highway PatrolSame as DPS
KentuckyKentucky Justice & Public Safety CabinetDepartment of Kentucky State Police
LouisianaLouisiana Department of Public Safety & CorrectionsLouisiana State Police
MaineMaine Department of Public SafetyMaine State Police
MarylandDepartment of Public Safety & Correctional ServicesMaryland State Police
MassachusettsSame as State PoliceMassachusetts State Police
MichiganSame as State PoliceMichigan State Police
MinnesotaMinnesota State PatrolSame as DPS
MississippiDepartment of Public Safety MississippiSame as DPS
MissouriMissouri State Highway PatrolSame as DPS
MontanaMontana Highway PatrolSame as DPS
NebraskaNebraska State PatrolSame as DPS
NevadaNevada State Police Highway PatrolSame as DPS
New HampshireNew Hampshire Department of SafetyNew Hampshire State Police
New JerseyDepartment of Law & Public SafetyNew Jersey State Police
New MexicoNew Mexico Department of Public SafetyNew Mexico State Police
New YorkNew York State Department of Public ServiceNew York State Police
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
North DakotaNorth Dakota State Highway PatrolSame as DPS
OhioOhio State Highway PatrolSame as DPS
OklahomaOklahoma Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
OregonSame as State PoliceOregon State Police
PennsylvaniaSame as State PolicePennsylvania State Police
Rhode IslandState of Rhode Island Department of Public SafetyState of Rhode Island State Police
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
South DakotaSouth Dakota Highway PatrolSame as DPS
TennesseeTennessee Highway PatrolSame as DPS
TexasTexas Highway PatrolSame as DPS
UtahUtah Department of Public SafetySame as DPS
VermontSame as State PoliceVermont State Police
VirginiaSame as State PoliceVirginia State Police
WashingtonWashington State PatrolSame as DPS
West VirginiaSame as State PoliceWest Virginia State Police
WisconsinWisconsin State PatrolSame as DPS
WyomingWyoming Highway PatrolSame as DPS

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.

Fulton County Sheriff's office website with yellow arrow pointing to the contact us feature that can be used when asking how to find out if someone was arrested today

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.

City of Phoenix police department screenshot for learning how to find out if someone was arrested last night and how to find out what someone was arrested for when charges are unknown

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.”

Phoenix public records search for police reports for how to find out what charges someone was arrested for and how can i find out what someone was arrested for.

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 CitySheriff’s Office ArrestsPolice Dept. Arrests
Huntsville, AlabamaMadison County Sheriff’s OfficeHuntsville Police Dept.
Anchorage, AlaskaAnchorage County Sheriff’s DepartmentAnchorage Police Dept.
Phoenix, ArizonaMaricopa County Sheriff’s OfficePhoenix Police Dept.
Little Rock, ArkansasPulaski County Sheriff’s OfficeLittle Rock Police Dept.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaLos Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.Los Angeles Police Dept.
Denver, ColoradoDenver County Sheriff’s Dept.Denver Police Dept.
Bridgeport, ConnecticutFairfield County Sheriff’s OfficeBridgeport Police Dept.
Wilmington, DelawareNew Hanover County Sheriff’s OfficeWilmington Police Dept.
Jacksonville, FloridaJacksonville Sheriff’s OfficeJacksonville Police Dept.
Atlanta, GeorgiaFulton County Sheriff’s OfficeAtlanta Police Dept.
Honolulu, HawaiiHonolulu County Sheriff’s OfficeHonolulu Police Dept.
Boise, IdahoAda County Sheriff’s OfficeBoise Police Dept.
Chicago, IllinoisCook County Sheriff’s OfficeChicago Police Dept.
Indianapolis, IndianaMarion County Sheriff’s OfficeIndianapolis Police Dept. 
Des Moines, IowaDes Moines County Sheriff’s Office Des Moines Police Dept. 
Wichita, KansasSedgwick County Sheriff’s OfficeWichita Police Dept. 
Louisville, KentuckyJefferson County Sheriff’s OfficeLouisville Metro Police Dept.
New Orleans, LouisianaOrlean’s Parish Sheriff’s OfficeNew Orleans Police Dept.
Portland, MaineCumberland County Sheriff’s OfficePortland Police Dept.
Baltimore, MarylandBaltimore County Sheriff’s OfficeBaltimore Police Dept. 
Boston, MassachusettsSuffolk County Sheriff’s OfficeBoston Police Dept.
Detroit, MichiganWayne County Sheriff’s OfficeDetroit Police Dept.
Minneapolis, MinnesotaHennepin County Sheriff’s OfficeMinneapolis Police Dept.
Jackson, MississippiHinds County Sheriff’s OfficeJackson Police Dept.
Kansas City, MissouriJackson County Sheriff’s OfficeKansas City Police Dept.
Billings, MontanaYellowstone County Sheriff’s OfficeBillings Police Dept.
Omaha, NebraskaDouglas County Sheriff’s OfficeOmaha Police Dept.
Las Vegas, NevadaClark County Sheriff’s OfficeLas Vegas Police Dept.
Manchester, New HampshireHillsborough County Sheriff’s OfficeManchester Police Dept.
Newark, New JerseyEssex County Sheriff’s OfficeNewark Police Dept. 
Albuquerque, New MexicoBernalillo County Sheriff’s OfficeAlbuquerque Police Dept. 
New York City, New YorkBrooklyn County Sheriff’s OfficeNew 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 CarolinaMecklenburg County Sheriff’s OfficeCharlotte Police Dept. 
Fargo, North DakotaCass County Sheriff’s OfficeFargo Police Dept. 
Columbus, OhioFranklin County Sheriff’s OfficeColumbus Police Dept. 
Oklahoma City, OklahomaOklahoma County Sheriff’s OfficeOklahoma City Police Dept.
Portland, OregonMultnomah County Sheriff’s OfficePortland Police Dept. 
Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia County Sheriff’s OfficePhiladelphia Police Dept.
Providence, Rhode IslandProvidence County Sheriff’s OfficeProvidence Police Dept.
Charleston, South CarolinaCharleston County Sheriff’s OfficeCharleston Police Dept.
Sioux Falls, South DakotaMinnehaha County Sheriff’s OfficeSioux Falls Police Dept.
Nashville, TennesseeDavidson County Sheriff’s OfficeNashville Police Dept. 
Houston, TexasHarris County Sheriff’s OfficeHouston Police Dept.
Salt Lake City, UtahSalt Lake City-County Sheriff’s OfficeSalt Lake City Police Dept.
Burlington, VermontChittenden County Sheriff’s OfficeBurlington Police Dept.
Virginia Beach, VirginiaVirginia Beach Sheriff’s OfficeVirginia Beach Police Dept.
Seattle, WashingtonKing County Sheriff’s OfficeSeattle Police Dept.
Charleston, West VirginiaKanawha County Sheriff’s OfficeCharleston Police Dept.
Milwaukee, WisconsinMilwaukee County Sheriff’s OfficeMilwaukee Police Dept.
Cheyenne, WyomingLaramie County Sheriff’s OfficeCheyenne 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about How To Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For

How To Find Out If Someone Was Arrested Today

If an arrest has just occurred, and same-day confirmation of arrest is required, it is highly likely that all of the paperwork has not yet been processed and entered into the system. Contact or visit the local police department to confirm an arrest.

The final record database should provide the needed information to check for charges against you online.

How To Find Out If Someone Was Arrested Last Night

Perhaps an individual was arrested and held but not yet charged. While this information would be on an arrest record, it might not be available to the public. So when you need to find out if someone is in police custody, try checking the local PD or sheriff’s office website.6

How To Find Out What Charges Someone Was Arrested For

Sometimes when wondering how to find out what someone was arrested for, you want to view their crimes. An online background check can provide a lot of information about an individual’s criminal record, but to view the crimes someone has been charged with, a police report is the most thorough option.1

Related Reading: Do pending cases show up on a background check?

How Can I Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For?

If an individual has not been charged or if that information is not yet accessible, you may be asking why that person was arrested.  This information is available to the public, often through the county clerk’s office or an online database3

How To Find Out If Someone Was Arrested Recently

If it has been a few days since the arrest, there is a good chance that an online database may have the desired information. If not, you can find out about recent arrests by contacting the local police department or sheriff’s office.

How To Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For Free Online

There are many free websites that can help in obtaining criminal records. These websites can provide a wide array of information gathered from the internet, police reports, and social media, but the accuracy of the information is not guaranteed.7

How To Find Out Someone's Charges In Jail

Inmate records can be obtained via online databases. These records will include incarceration details as well as jail records and good behavior records.8

How To Find Out If Someone Is In Police Custody For Free

Contacting the local police station is free at any time. If you have information about where the individual may be held, call and ask for confirmation. In the absence of that information, online searches are a great resource. Check the websites for police departments and sheriff’s offices in the general area.

 

How To Find Out Someone's Charges In Jail For Free

Because criminal records are a matter of public safety, they are publicly accessible and free to access through online routes.

How Can I Find Public Records For Free No Charge?

Anyone can access public records by state, county, and city for free via various online databases4, though the information may not always be complete2!

How To Find Out If Someone Has A Felony For Free

The Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator is available to anyone and provides information on convicted felons from the year 1982 and forward. Records prior to 1982 must be obtained through the National Archives Records Administration (NARA).

How To Find Out If Someone Is In Police Custody Online

Many states and nationwide free databases exist. A quick search through one of these, and police custody can be determined.

Learn How To Check My Criminal Record

Whether from curiosity or anxiety, you may be wondering what your own criminal record looks like. Rest assured that you can access your own record via the same routes as others’. In fact, searching your state’s criminal record database should provide the needed information.


References

1Accucom Corporation. (2022). How to Find Out if Someone Was Arrested? recordsfinder. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from <https://recordsfinder.com/guides/how-to-find-out-if-someone-was-arrested/>

2Can I Check Out Another Person’s Criminal Record? (2022). Nolo. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from <https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/question-criminal-record-check-another-person-28151.html>

3FindLaw Staff. (2021, 12 17). How to Search For Arrest Records. findlaw.com. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from <https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-law-basics/how-to-search-for-arrest-records.html>

4Government Registry Online Records Retrieval. (2022). Search Government Records. Government Registry Online Records Retrieval. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from government <https://registry.org>

5issiah, M. (2022, February 14). How to Get a Police Report. eInvestigator.com. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from <https://www.einvestigator.com/how-to-obtain-a-police-report/#:~:text=You'll%20need%20to%20provide,Last%20Name%20and%20Street>

6The Law Dictionary. (2022). Where to Find Recent Arrests. The Law Dictionary. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from <https://thelawdictionary.org/article/where-to-find-recent-arrests/>