Are Arrest Records Public in North Carolina?
According to North Carolina statute 15A-304, arrest records are considered public information and can be accessed by anyone. However, there are some restrictions on who can access certain types of information contained in an arrest record. For example, a person's social security number, date of birth, or home address cannot be released without the person's consent. In addition, a minor's name and other identifying information may also be restricted. Questions about accessing arrest records in North Carolina may be directed to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
North Carolina arrest records are a part of an individual's criminal history records that are maintained by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. These records contain information on all an individual's arrests, especially those made within state limits.
Who Can Access North Carolina Arrest Records?
The following persons/institutions may access North Carolina arrest records with minimal exceptions:
- The subject of the record
- State and local government agencies
- Law enforcement agencies
- Attorneys and courts
- Licensing boards
- Child protective services
- Credit reporting agencies.
Arrest records and related information are maintained by the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and North Carolina courts. In North Carolina, arrest records are also maintained by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). Arrest records typically include:
- The individual's name
- Date of birth
- Physical description
- The offense for which they were arrested
- Date and location of the arrest.
North Carolina law requires the state's enforcement agencies to report arrests to the SBI. The SBI then compiles this information into a central database. Interested members of the public may search the database by name, date of birth, or other unique identifiers.
What Shows Up on a North Carolina Arrest Record?
The following information is typically included in a North Carolina arrest record:
- The name, age, and address of the arrestee
- The date and time of the arrest
- The location of the arrest
- The name of the arresting officer or agency
- The charges that were filed against the arrestee
- The bail amount (where applicable)
- Court date and related information
- The mugshot of the arrestee
- The fingerprints of the arrestee
- Any other information that may be related to the arrest, such as witnesses or evidence collected at the scene of the crime.
North Carolina arrest records are public documents containing information about an individual's arrest history; they are typically contained within an individual's North Carolina criminal records and form a critical part of each record-holder's criminal history information.
North Carolina Arrest Statistics
According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting data, there were 241,242 arrests in North Carolina in 2021, which was slightly higher than the 235,827 arrests recorded in 2020. Juvenile arrests made up 7,537 of the arrests, which was a 2% decrease from 2020, while adult arrests totaled 233,705 and had a 2% increase from the figures reported in 2020.
The statewide crime rate per 100,000 residents for index, violent, and property crimes was reported to be 5,172.7. The majority of these arrests were for property crimes, violent crimes, and other charges. Aggravated assaults had the highest number of arrests (8,303) among violent crimes, while larceny (17,539) had the most for property crimes. The total crime index arrests for juveniles were reported to be 1,025, which was a decline of about 64% from the figures obtained in 2017.
The county with the highest number of crimes was Graham, with an index crime rate of 8085.4, a violent crime rate of 386.9, and a property crime rate of 7698.5 per 100,000 residents, followed by Richmond with a total crime rate of 11,016.7 and Durham with a rate of 7,932 per 100,000 persons. Caswell County reported the lowest crime rate in 2021 at 635 per 100,000 residents.
Obtaining North Carolina Public Arrest Records
Searching for public North Carolina arrest information provides access to non-confidential arrest records and reports generated from the arrests in the state. An arrest search can be done in person, via mail, or online by querying the department in charge of such records and utilizing the arrest log or inmate roster they maintain to retrieve arrest information. An inquirer will need details of the arrest or the personal data of the arrested individual to begin the search process.
While arrest records are generally available to the public, there are some exceptions. For example, North Carolina law prohibits the release of information about an individual's arrest if that individual has been found not guilty of the charges or if the charges have been dismissed. Additionally, juvenile arrest records are not typically accessible to the public.
How Do I Lookup Someone's Arrest Records in North Carolina?
When trying to look up someone's arrest records in North Carolina, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that not all arrests will be public records. If the person was arrested but never charged with a crime, then their arrest record may not be available to the public.
Another thing to remember is that even if an arrest record is public, it may not contain all of the information requested. In selected cases, some records may only list the charges against the individual and not the outcome of their case.
That said, there are still a few ways to look up arrest records in North Carolina. Interested persons may search the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's website. Otherwise, the requesting party may contact the county sheriff's office where the arrest took place. To request an arrest record from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety via mail, requestors can fill out and submit the Criminal Record Request Form ( Form AOC-CR-314) and submit it to the clerk of the superior court in the county or jurisdiction where the arrest or crime occurred. Queries may also be made to:
North Carolina Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 29500
Raleigh, NC 27626-0500
Tel: (919) 733-2126
Fax: (919) 715-0058
While searching for arrestees using the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's website, it is essential that the requestor have the personal information of the arrestee. The search queries available on the site include the offender's name, birth date, gender, ethnic group, offender ID, race, gender, and age range. The requestor will also need to know their status, whether they are active inmates, released on bail, or on probation.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in North Carolina
Subpoenas are legal documents that require a law enforcement agency or other organization to provide specific records or information.
To subpoena arrest records in North Carolina, the requestor will need to contact the clerk of court in the county where the arrest was made and provide them with specific information about the case, including the date of the arrest and the name of the arrested individual.
The clerk will then generate the subpoena and send it to the law enforcement agency that has the records.
The law enforcement agency will have a set period to provide the records, and if they do not comply, the court may order them to do so.
How to Search for an Inmate in the North Carolina Prison System
Interested members of the public may search for inmates in the North Carolina prison system by visiting the criminal offender searches page of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website and clicking on the "Offender Public Information" link. Once on the offender search page, individuals may search by name, date of birth, or statewide Offender ID number. The results of a successful search will include the inmate's name, photo, physical description, and current location. Additional information that may be available includes the inmate's offense history, sentence information, and projected release date. The public may also sign up to receive email alerts when an offender's custody status changes.
Alternatively, the requestors may search using third-party websites that maintain public records. These websites allow members of the public to search for inmates or arrestees by name, date of birth, case number, or county. A successful search will also provide the requestor with the inmate's name, mugshot, charges, and bail information.
The requesting party may also contact the sheriff's office in the county where the inmate is being held to inquire about visiting hours and procedures. Each county has its own rules and regulations regarding visits from members of the public. It is important to note that all visitors must have a valid form of government-issued identification and are subject to a background check before being approved for a visit. The visitor must also be on the inmate's approved visiting list.
How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in North Carolina
The North Carolina Department of Correction maintains a database of all inmates currently in custody and those who have been released within the past 24 hours. This information is updated daily.
To find out if someone is currently in custody, the requesting party can search the database by name, date of birth, or inmate ID number. If they do not know the inmate's ID number, they can still search by name and date of birth; however, this will return a list of all inmates with that name and date of birth, so it is important to have as much information as possible when searching.
To find out if someone has been released from custody within the past 24 hours, requestors can search the database by name or inmate ID number. The results will include the date and time of release and the facility from which the inmate was released.
It is important to note that the database sometimes excludes custody or who have been released within the past 24 hours; it does not contain historical data on inmates who have been released from custody at any point in the past. When looking for information on an inmate released more than 24 hours ago, requestors can contact the North Carolina Department of Correction's Records Office directly.
How to Find Recent Arrests in North Carolina
To find recent arrests in North Carolina, an individual will need to contact the law enforcement agencies in the state and inspect their arrest log or inmate roster. Interested individuals can also submit requests in person, via mail, or online to the county police station or sheriff’s office to acquire public arrest records.
For instance, In Wake County, the Sheriff’s Department maintains arrest records and makes them accessible to the public through the Event Search tool. Individuals utilizing the search tool must enter details of the arrest or the name of the arrested person into the search engine to ease the search process. It is also important to note that there may be charges attached to obtaining copies of the records. Likewise, Mecklenburg arrest records are obtainable at the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office, and interested persons can mail requests or visit the Sheriff’s office in person.
How Long Do North Carolina Arrest Records Stay on File?
For persons who have been arrested in North Carolina, their records will remain on file with the arresting agency indefinitely. However, if the individual was convicted of the crime, the record will also be sent to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and kept on file for at least 50 years. For persons arrested but not convicted, their records will still be kept on file with the arresting agency but will not be sent to the SBI.
What is an Arrest Report?
An arrest report is a legal document that contains the details of an arrest and is created by the arresting agency upon arrest. Arrest reports usually reveal important information about an arrest, such as the name of the arresting law enforcement officer or agency, the arrest date and time, personal data of the suspect, remarks and comments from the arresting officer, the charges for which the individual was arrested, and the scheduled arraignment date, if available.
Arrest records, on the other hand, are more comprehensive reports that contain the arrest history of persons incarcerated in the state or county per time, as well as information about other arrests in that jurisdiction. Arrest records can be accessed by members of the public on request as they are public records unless otherwise stated by a court injunction. Whereas arrest reports are also public records, they are not readily available to the public because they often contain sensitive information.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?
An arrest record is a public record that contains information about an individual who has been arrested. On the other hand, an arrest warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement to arrest an individual suspected of a crime.
The public can access both arrest records and arrest warrants, but there are some essential differences between the two. Arrest records typically only contain information about the individual's contact with law enforcement, while arrest warrants also include information about the charges against the individual.
Arrest warrants are usually issued when there is probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime. Probable cause is a legal standard that requires more than just suspicion but less than the certainty of criminal activity. Once an arrest warrant is issued, the individual named in the warrant can be arrested and taken into custody.
In contrast, arrest records are created when an individual is arrested and booked into custody. Arrest records typically include the individual's name, date of birth, booking photo, and the charges against them. Arrest records may also have other information, such as the individual's fingerprints, criminal history, and aliases.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?
An arrest record is a formal document that records an individual's arrest and the circumstances surrounding it. On the other hand, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes all convictions, whether they resulted from a guilty verdict or a plea bargain. In many cases, an arrest record will show up on a background check even if the individual was never convicted of a crime.
The primary difference between an arrest record and a criminal record is that an arrest record may not provide as much information about a record-holder's potential risk. An arrest does not necessarily mean that an individual committed a crime, so it may not be predictive of future behavior. On the other hand, a criminal conviction is generally a stronger indicator of an individual's likelihood of committing a crime in the future.
How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in North Carolina?
Persons interested in obtaining arrest records for free in North Carolina may contact the clerk of court in the county where the arrest occurred. The clerk should be able to provide them with a copy of the record, though they may charge a small fee for copies and postage (if applicable).
Requestors can also try searching for the records online. Many counties have websites where members of the public can access public records, including arrest records. However, not all counties make their records available online, so the requestor may need to call or visit the courthouse in person to obtain them.
How to Search for a North Carolina Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service
Third-party search services are a reliable alternative to obtaining records from government-run databases. These services provide access to various public records, including arrest records. Most services offer a simple search interface that allows users to search by name or location.
When using a third-party search service, it is essential to choose a reputable service with a good track record of accuracy and customer satisfaction. Users must also be aware of the potential for scams. Some unscrupulous services may attempt to sell access to non-existent records or charge exorbitant fees.
To use a third-party search service to find an arrest record, the requestor can:
- Go to the website of the confirmed, reputable search service
- Enter the name of the person they are searching for
- Choose North Carolina as the state
- Search for arrest records
- Pay a fee to access the information required (this may vary with the site)
The search results will likely include a variety of public records, including arrest records. The requestor can then review these records to find the information they are looking for.
How to Correct an Arrest Record in North Carolina
When an arrest record is found to have a mistake in North Carolina, the record holder can petition to have the information corrected. To do so, the record holder must provide supporting documentation that verifies the mistakenly reported information is inaccurate. The paperwork required for this process can be obtained from the clerk of court in the county where the arrest occurred. Once the completed forms are filed, a hearing will be scheduled where both parties can present their evidence. If the judge finds that the information on the record is inaccurate, they will order it to be amended or removed.
How to Expunge Arrest Records in North Carolina
Interested persons may opt to expunge their North Carolina arrest records if they satisfy the state's eligibility requirements for expunction.
- If the charges were dismissed, or if the person was found not guilty, they may be eligible to file a petition with the court to have their record sealed or deleted.
- If the Governor of North Carolina has pardoned the record-holder, they may also be eligible to have their records expunged.
- If (for a drug-violation-related arrest) they completed a substance abuse treatment program and has remained drug-free for a certain period of time, they may also be eligible to have their record sealed.
Arrest records can also be expunged if the person was found not guilty or if the charges were dismissed. To have an arrest record expunged, the person must file a petition with the court and show that they have been rehabilitated.
To have a record expunged, eligible persons may query the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in the following steps:
- Download and complete the Expungement Petition Form.
- Include a certified copy of the court order dismissing charges or finding the person not guilty and any other required documents.
- Mail the completed form and required documents to:
North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 2448
Raleigh, NC 27602-2448
- The AOC will review the petition and supporting documentation. If everything is in order, they will notify the district attorney, sheriff, and police chief in the county where the arrest occurred. These agencies will then have 30 days to object to the expungement.
- If there are no objections, or if a judge overrules the objection, the AOC will send an order to expunge the record to all relevant agencies.