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What are North Carolina Criminal Records?

North Carolina criminal records are official documents providing details of criminal activities committed within the state. These documents are prepared by local and state law enforcement agencies, courts, and detention and correctional centers. Also referred to as rap sheets, criminal records describe felonies and misdemeanors of alleged and convicted criminals as well as arrest, indictment, and conviction records.

A North Carolina criminal record contains the following information:

  • Full name of the subject including known aliases
  • Subject’s birth date, gender, race, and any other identifying personal data
  • A set of fingerprints and a mugshot
  • History of criminal offenses and indictments
  • Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
  • Conviction records

Are North Carolina Criminal Records Public?

Yes, North Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law states that the public can inspect and examine government-generated records at reasonable times. In North Carolina, state public criminal records are available in different databases. These databases are maintained by courts and law enforcement agencies. Most of them are accessible online and citizens can request for copies for nominal fees. The North Carolina Court System maintains a complete database of charges and convictions it has made in conjunction with law enforcement across the state. Interested persons can obtain certified copies in person or by mail.

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How to Obtain Criminal Records in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Court System allows the public to request a certified criminal record search by name for themselves or others through their local county superior court’s clerk of courts. Interested persons must complete and print Form AOC-CR-314, attach the $25 fee, and submit it to the clerk’s office in person or by mail.

To perform a free public criminal record check on oneself or others, individuals may use the public access computers at the clerk's office at their county superior court. This search will yield free, on-demand court records. However the records are not certified, and printing fees may apply. Finally, the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) allows the public to obtain North Carolina criminal records from third-party vendors who have the discretion to charge a fee for the records or let requesters perform a free criminal records search.

What are North Carolina Arrest Records?

North Carolina arrest records are the official documentation of apprehensions and detentions. These records are prepared to provide details of the alleged criminal activities of arrested individuals. An arrest record does not mean the subject is guilty of a felony or misdemeanor described. It only provides proof that the individual was brought in for questioning and possibly detained afterward. A North Carolina arrest record contains the following information:

  • The identity of the arrested individual i.e. subject’s name, sex, date of birth, etc.
  • The time and location of the arrests
  • Details of the alleged offense informing the arrest
  • The name of the arresting law enforcement officer
  • Name and address of the county/city jail or state detention center where the subject is booked

Are Arrest Records Public in North Carolina?

Yes. According to North Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law, arrest records are in the public domain. The North Carolina Court System maintains a complete database of charges it has made in conjunction with law enforcement across the state. Interested persons can obtain certified copies in person or by mail. Interested individuals may also visit their local police station or sheriff’s office to obtain public arrest records. Note that there may be an administrative charge for an arrest search.

To obtain free arrest records in North Carolina, requesters may consider using the public access computers at the clerk's office at their local county superior court. This arrest search will yield any arrest records in the court’s database. Arrest records are one of several police records compiled during criminal investigations in North Carolina. While arrest records are included in police records, police records are not included in arrest records.

What is a North Carolina Arrest Warrant?

In North Carolina, an arrest warrant is an official court document instructing a law enforcement officer to detain an individual within the jurisdiction of the state. Judges (and magistrate judges) sign and issue arrest warrants only when requesting law enforcement officers demonstrate probable cause. Arrest warrants give arresting officers the legal authority to detained individuals accused of alleged crimes whether they are guilty or not.

North Carolina law enforcement officers may arrest individuals without an active warrant only if they witnessed ongoing crimes and believe the arrested individuals have involved them.

A North Carolina arrest warrant includes the following details:

  • Full name and other personally identifying information of the subject
  • Description of the alleged offense
  • Where and when the arrest may happen
  • Expiry date, if applicable
  • Name of the warrant issuer and date of issue

There is no central database where interested persons can perform a North Carolina warrant search. However, the DEA Fugitive Search tool or the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System are useful options for anyone that needs to perform an active warrant search.

What are Inmate Records in North Carolina?

North Carolina inmate records provide details of individuals incarcerated or booked into local jails and state prisons. Jail records identify inmates and provide information about their incarceration and eventual release. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NC DPS) oversees the operations of all state prisons. It has four regional offices and oversees the operations of 56 adult correctional centers and institutions in the state.

The NC DPS provides an inmate locator on its website to help with performing an inmate search in state prisons and retrieving inmate records. Local jails in North Carolina are under the jurisdiction of sheriff’s offices and police departments. These local law enforcement agencies keep their own jail and inmate records and the public can query them to perform an inmate lookup.

What is the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry?

North Carolina sex offender registry is a database of registered sex offenders living in the cities, towns, and counties of the state. North Carolina sex offender legislation is fashioned after the federal Megan’s law, and it requires all convicted sex offenders to register at the county level. County sheriffs maintain sex offender listings for their jurisdictions and send these to the NCDPS.

The NCDPS is required by law to compile, maintain, and update the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. This statewide registry is available to the public and searchable online. The search tools provided on the online registry allow the public to find registered sex offenders in North Carolina by name, street address, zip code, latitude and longitude, and sex registration number.

What is a DWI in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, individuals that drive while impaired commit a serious traffic violation in the state. A North Carolina court can convict an individual for drunk driving if they are arrested while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances like opiates and benzos. North Carolina law enforcement stop drivers who seem impaired and subject them to a blood, breath, or urine test. The police will arrest any non-commercial driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08% and charge them with drunk driving.

The penalties for driving while impaired or a DWI in North Carolina depend on the level of the infraction. They include 24 hours - 6 months in prison, $200 - $1000 in fines, or a one year - lifetime license suspension. North Carolina courts inform the state’s DMV of the outcomes of traffic violations whether they go to trial or offenders pay their tickets. North Carolina uses a point system for drivers’ records. Therefore, outcomes of traffic violations will accrue points on drivers’ licenses. After considering prior violations, the NC DMV can suspend offenders’ licenses. Traffic violations may also increase offenders’ auto insurance rates.

What are Misdemeanors in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, misdemeanors are minor offenses punishable by up to 150 days of jail time or other community punishment. The state has four misdemeanor classes: A1, 1, 2, and 3. Class A1 misdemeanors are the most serious while Class 3 ones are the least serious.

  • Class A1 misdemeanors in North Carolina are punishable by up to 150 days in jail and/or a fine amount decided by the court. Examples of Class A1 misdemeanors are assault with a deadly weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a state officer/employee, assault on a female, assault on a minor under the age of 12, and violation of a valid protective order
  • Class 1 misdemeanors attract jail times up to 120 days in North Carolina. The court may also deem it necessary to fine the guilty party in any amount it finds satisfactory. Examples of Class 1 misdemeanors are breaking and entering, unauthorized use of a vehicle, larceny of property valued at $1,000 or less, possession of drug paraphernalia, and misrepresentation to obtain employment security benefits valued at $400 or less
  • Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors in North Carolina are simple assault, battery, card fraud, indecent exposure, cyberstalking, resisting law enforcement officers, and disorderly conduct
  • Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 20 days in jail and up to $200 in fines. Examples of offenses in this category are issuing a worthless check for $2,000 or less, failure to return rental property, intoxicated and disruptive in public, possession of 0.5 oz. or less of marijuana, possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia, and fishing/hunting without a license (when it is the first offense)

What are Felonies in North Carolina?

Felonies are more serious crimes and usually attract prison sentences. A North Carolina court may punish a less serious felony with community punishment. In such cases, the convicted individual may be instructed to pay a fine amount determined by the court. There are 10 felony classes in North Carolina. These go from Class A to Class I with two types of Class B felonies (B1 and B2). Class A felonies are the most serious while Class I ones are the least serious.

  • Class A felonies are punishable by death, or life with or without parole. First-degree murder is a Class A felony in North Carolina
  • Class B1 felonies are punishable by 144 months to life without parole. Examples include second-degree murder and first-degree forcible/statutory rape/sexual offense
  • Class B2 felonies are punishable by up to 484 months in prison. Second-degree murder is a Class B2 felony in North Carolina
  • Class C felonies are punishable by up to 231 months in prison. Examples include second-degree forcible rape/sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping, assault, and embezzlement of $100,000 or more
  • Class D felonies are punishable by up to 204 months in prison. Examples are voluntary manslaughter, burglary, arson, armed robbery, and child abuse involving serious injury
  • Class E felonies are punishable by up to 88 months in prison. Examples are second-degree kidnapping, discharging a weapon into occupied property, assault a law enforcement officer with a firearm, and selling/delivering a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school
  • Class F felonies are punishable by up to 59 months in prison. Examples are involuntary manslaughter, habitual impaired driving, patronizing a prostitute that is also a minor, and assault on a law enforcement officer
  • Class G felonies are punishable by up to 47 months in prison. Examples are second-degree burglary and arson, common law robbery, identity theft, and possession of firearms by a felon
  • Class H felonies are punishable by up to 39 months in prison. Examples are possession of stolen goods, assault by strangulation, hit and run, embezzlement involving less than $100,000, and escaping from a state prison
  • Class I felonies are punishable by up to 24 months in prison. Examples are breaking and entering motor vehicles, card fraud, forgery of current notes, checks, and securities, and possession of cocaine/marijuana

What are Parole Records in North Carolina?

In 1994, the North Carolina General Assembly eliminated parole and replaced it with Structured Sentencing. Offenders whose crimes were committed before October 1, 1994, are still eligible for consideration by a parole board. The state’s Structured Sentencing Act mandates inmates to serve at least 100% of the minimum sentences and 85% of their maximum sentences to be eligible for post-release supervision.

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission determines the conditions necessary for post-release supervision for felons convicted after October 1, 1994, under the Structured Sentencing Act. To find information about inmates released under Structured Sentencing in North Carolina, use the NC DPS Offender Search tool.

What are Probation Records in North Carolina?

Probation records are official documents that provide details of convicted individuals serving their sentences outside of correctional and detention facilities. Probation is an alternative to prison and allows convicts in North Carolina to serve their suspended sentences out of custody, as long as they comply with probation conditions imposed by the judge and probation office. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case.

In North Carolina, there are two types of probation: supervised and unsupervised. Supervised probation requires reporting to a probation officer regularly and providing contact information and home address. Supervised parolees also have to follow certain rules regarding employment. Unsupervised parole has none of these restrictions.

What are Juvenile Criminal Records in North Carolina?

Juvenile criminal records are official records of criminal activities committed by minors who were tried by the juvenile justice system. Juveniles are not convicted of crimes like adults. The correct term used for convicted juveniles is “adjudicated delinquent.” While many believe that juvenile criminal records are expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, these records remain unless the offender petitions to have them expunged.

If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent or served time in a juvenile detention center. Although juvenile court hearings are open to the public in North Carolina, juvenile court records, including criminal records, are confidential. Only parties to the cases and their attorneys can access these records without court orders.

What are Conviction Records in North Carolina?

North Carolina conviction records are official court documents describing the indictments, pleas, hearings, and sentencing of individuals found guilty in criminal cases. Misdemeanor and felony trails may produce conviction records. Convictions are rendered by juries in jury trials and judges in non-jury trials. An individual’s conviction records will exclude final judgements removed by pardons. Judgements may also be missing if reversed or set aside.

History and Accuracy of North Carolina Criminal Records

The veracity of North Carolina criminal records depends on the methods and means used by state and municipality law enforcement agencies and courts for collecting and storing those records. Some jurisdictions have digitized most of their old paper records. North Carolina criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s. This period coincides with the drive to compile criminal and arrest data into a centralized database. While human error reduced record accuracy in the early days, records became more accurate in the 1990s as computer systems made recordkeeping easier and more scalable.

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