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To learn how to find someone who was arrested, there are various resources available that can be used to search right now.
Since arrest records are public information, in most cases, using local and state resources makes it possible to locate the arrested person in police custody using a simple criminal records search.
How to Find Someone Arrested Last Night Using Arrest Records
If someone is positive the person they’re seeking has actually been arrested and is currently detained, finding them and verifying it involves searching arrest records for the jurisdiction where the person is held.
Note: if you aren’t certain that the person in question has actually been arrested, first read how to find out if someone was arrested to be sure. Furthermore, if you do know someone has been arrested but aren’t sure why, you can review how to find out why someone was arrested.
Simply put, an arrest record is a criminal record and how to search recent arrests has a standard process that anyone can follow. If a person has been arrested in the past and charged with a crime (see how to lookup charges on someone), this will be on their criminal history record, which is available to government officials, agencies, businesses and other individuals.
However, if the person was just arrested last night, the case may be ongoing, or the police may still be conducting an investigation before charging you with a crime, but in either case, the following process can explain how to find someone who was arrested:
Step 1. Navigate to the local police or sheriff’s office website.
This is easily done using any search browser. When the arresting department is unknown, search both the police and sheriff’s office by using the name of the county.
Step 2. Look for Key Phrases, Links on the Website.
Many localities, even small jurisdictions, include ‘recent arrests’ on their website. For example, by searching “Blount County Sheriff’s office,” the official website includes both “inmate now” and “accident reports.”
The “inmate now” link provides a portal to search for recently arrested and held individuals.
Likewise, the Maryville Police Department (a large city in Blount county, TN) search yields the official website, which contains links to the Tennessee sex offenders registry and other useful links. 12
Step 3. Navigate to the Local County Court Clerk
In addition to law enforcement, the local court clerk also contains information on how to find someone who was arrested. The Blount County Clerk’s Office features a search tool (most counties do), which can be used to find “background checks.”
The results page includes multiple links and a quick glance can help narrow down the search.
For more in-depth methods for performing each of the following steps, keep reading.
How to Find Someone Who Has Been Arrested Using Local Resources
When looking for a person who has just been arrested, using local resources can be the easiest and fastest way to find someone. In fact, it makes how to find arrested persons a simple process of using publicly-available records.
Understanding the steps of how to use a local database, inmate locator, county sheriff’s office, local city police departments, and the Bureau of Federal Prisons is a simple process.
Local Police Database
Step 1: Individuals can find someone who was arrested last night by using the local police database.1
Step 2: Search for “recent arrests” or other phrases that will point to arrest records. The lookup process generally involves having the person’s name, date of birth, or inmate identification number, if they have already been submitted into the system. This process also allows anyone to know how to find out what someone was arrested for.
Note: it’s always helpful to find someone’s middle name first to run a more accurate search within the police database.
Prison Inmate Locator
Step 1: Searching for arrested individuals already in lock up can be done with an inmate locator.
Another way to find an arrested person is to use the inmate locator is to do a search engine search of the person’s name, state, followed by the “department of corrections inmate search.”
Local County Sheriff’s Office
The sheriff’s office generally includes additional resources like the Sex Offender Registry, Offender Contact Information, Inmate Search, and Offender Database Search.2
Step 1: Visit the sheriff’s office website and find the contact number.
Step 2: Look through resources like the Offender contact information, Offender Visitation forms, and Sex Offender Registry.
Some counties allow individuals to access their notification system to see any new inmates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.3 However, users will need to register for updates or to be registered when someone is released.
Many county jails provide a searchable website to help locate someone who was arrested last night.4 If a person is unsure if the arrested individual is still at the intake facility, (in New York, it’s called Central Booking), call the location to see if the person is there.
Bureau of Federal Prisons
The Bureau of Federal Prisons website also offers an inmate lookup tool 5.
Step 1: Go to the inmate locator tab and search by the inmate number.
Step 2: Browse the list of the inmate’s name, number, age, sex, race, and release date.
Step 3: Or, select the prison where the person has been admitted to find out if the offender is in custody.
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How to Find an Arrested Person: State Records Search
The next method of learning how to find someone who was arrested is to use the state records search. For example, individuals can use the Michigan state website to find a person who was arrested. To find your specific state, refer to the table below.
Step 1. Visit the Michigan State Police website.
Step 2. Click on ‘Menu’ in the top left hand corner and choose ‘Services’.
Step 3. Click on ‘Criminal History Records’.
Step 4. Navigate to the bottom of the page to look at either a name based background check or a fingerprint based background check.
Step 5. For public records other than criminal history reports, click on the ‘Online Services’ button in the Main Menu.
Step 6: When here, click on the ‘MSP Records Request Portal’ to request other records.
What Is In The Arrest Record?
In the process of learning how to find an arrested person, individuals may come across the arrest record. The arrest record is a report and documents regarding the process of taking an individual into custody. Typically, law enforcement will take someone into custody if they are suspected of a crime or if the police have seen the person commit a crime.
Although arrested people are not found immediately guilty of their crime, they may still be imprisoned in a state prison or county sheriff’s office. An arrest record is available upon request for those who want to find an arrested person.
The arrest record will typically contain the following information that can provide further clues as to if it is the arrested person in question:
- Inmate information (detention facility, entry date, bond information, release date)
- Trial information (conviction, charge, sentencing, parole)
- Physical identifiers (i.e., tattoos and piercings)
- Background information on the crime
- Physical description (age, hair color, height, weight)
- Contact Information
- Personal information (name)
Are Arrest Records Public?
Criminal records are open to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore, when searching for someone who has been arrested, members of the public can receive these documents without any necessary prior authorization from a local governmental agency.
State Police Department Information
Using Criminal Conviction Records to Locate Someone In Jail
Criminal convictions can be used to find someone who has been arrested and is in jail. Criminal conviction records show events leading from the arrest to the conviction of someone in the trial. These documents are available from the judge in the court of law.
Court clerks are the professionals who contain copies of the conviction records. Although these records can be obtained by someone in-person or by mail, they can sometimes be tedious — meaning it may take a few weeks or months to receive the answer. Therefore, online databases can be the quickest way to use criminal conviction records to find someone in jail.
Users have two general options to find criminal conviction records for someone in jail:
- Submitting an official request – Individuals can submit a request to the record custodian to make in-person visits, send requests in via mail, or do an online search via the database. Keep in mind, the database search is the quickest and can find someone who was just arrested.
- Third-party search — The second way is to use a third-party search service to find online criminal records. Although free checks are possible, they are typically incomplete and non-comprehensive compared to paid services.
How Do You Obtain A Criminal Conviction?
There are typically steps that each state follows to establish if someone is guilty of a charge.
- Appearance – After an individual has been arrested, the police will bring the suspected person to court within 24-48 hours after arrest. The judge will then tell the arrested person of the convicted charges and assign an attorney if they do not have the funds to pay for one themselves.
- Bond hearing – The court will conduct a bond hearing for temporary release if they did not commit a serious felony and can afford the bail.
- Arraignment – The next step of a criminal conviction is an arraignment. This is the step in which the prosecutor files charges against the arrested person, and the individual decides guilty or not guilty.
- Plea deal – If The prosecution and defense can negotiate a plea deal in exchange for a benefit to the accused person.
- Trial – If the accused pleads not guilty and there is no plea deal, the case will go to trial, which takes between 60-80 days on average.
- Sentencing – After the trial, the judge and jury will come to a verdict to establish guilt or innocence based on the evidence.
- Appeals – An individual can appeal the case if they feel they have been treated unfairly or they did not have a fair jury 11.
The entire process of obtaining a criminal conviction is lengthy and can take numerous months from start to finish.
Use State Court Records to Find an Arrested Person
The last method that can be used to find someone who was arrested is to visit and search the state’s court records. Each state collects public criminal records, and usually these can be accessed at the state’s Clerk of Courts.
The method for searching records is very similar to the local method exampled above.
Step 1. Navigate to the state court website.
Step 2. Search for Background check or criminal records search options.
Step 3. Complete the forms required to search.
The following list contains links to each state’s court website:
There are numerous ways in which an individual can learn how to find someone who has been arrested in the past. To find an arrested person who was detained within the past 24 hours, use local law enforcement resources, criminal conviction searches, or state resources to find an arrested person. Learning how to find someone who was arrested is as easy as taking advantage of the local and national resources available that search public records for free.
1Where to Find Arrest Records. (n.d.) The Law Dictionary. Retrieved from <https://thelawdictionary.org/article/where-to-find-recent-arrests/>
2United States National Sex Offender Public Website. The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved from <https://www.nsopw.gov/>
3Jail Information. Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Retrieved from <https://www.madisoncountysheriffal.org/jail-information>
4Bond James Bond, Inc. (2018). How Do I Locate Someone Who’s Been Arrested? Retrieved from <https://bondjamesbondinc.com/bail-bonds/how-do-i-locate-someone-whos-been-arrested>
5Federal Inmates by Number. Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved from <https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/>
6Prisons and Prisoners. USAGov. Retrieved from <https://www.usa.gov/prisons>
7Alabama Department of Corrections. Retrieved from <http://www.doc.state.al.us/>
8Inmate Search – Free Nationwide Inmate Lookup Service. Inmate Search Info. Retrieved from <https://inmatesearchinfo.com/>
9US Criminal State Records. State Records United States. Retrieved from <https://staterecords.org/criminal.php>
10Plea bargain. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/plea_bargain#:~:text=Many%20successful%20criminal%20prosecutions%20in,for%20concessions%20from%20the%20prosecutors.>
11Appellate Courts and Cases – Journalist’s Guide. United States Courts. Retrieved from <https://www.uscourts.gov/statistics-reports/appellate-courts-and-cases-journalists-guide#:~:text=The%20court%20hears%20appeals%20from,of%20the%2012%20regional%20circuits.>
12City of Maryville Police Department. (2022) Home Page. Retrieved From <https://www.maryvillegov.com/police-department-home-page.html>