Police Records: A Viable Option for Checking Background Information
If you are concerned about a new person in your own or a loved one’s life, it is often a good idea to screen the individual by checking for police records in their name. These records can offer insight into his or her character and fitness, and warn you of any red flags that you should be alerted to in their past.
How Accessible Are Police Records?
Police records are a matter of public record, unless a judge has redacted them from public view. This may happen because the person is or was a juvenile at the time of the offense in question, and when they come of age the record is cleared or expunged. Otherwise, information regarding any arrests, prison time, warrants and convictions in someone’s past should be accessible for your personal knowledge.
How Are Police Records Created and Maintained?
When someone is arrested, a record is created by the arresting agency – whether it is a local county sheriff, state police or federal agency. These records include details such as the date and place (town) of arrest; charges filed against the suspect; mug shots; personal description such as height and weight; resulting convictions, if any; and sentencing details.
Prison or jail records are then created when someone is sentenced to serving time for the crime they were arrested for. These can include dates of incarceration, current disposition (released, absconded or currently in custody) and the place of incarceration.
Warrant records are issued when someone is wanted for a crime or questioning, or more often if they fail to appear for court. Some jurisdictions may even create a warrant for failure to pay child support. Existing warrants will appear in a police records search, since the police are charged with the responsibility of finding the individual and bringing them to court for a hearing.
These police records are maintained at the local level, and some cities have an old records department where they are transferred to after a certain period of time. A police records check includes scanning public documents found with local and state police agencies, jails and prisons, and local court clerks for outstanding warrants. Much of this information is available online as well as instructions on how to access copies of them, though actual copies of records typically need to be requested from the maintaining office directly.
What If I Find Police Records in Someone’s Past?
If the person you are researching is someone close to you, you may choose to approach them with the police records you’ve discovered. If they are simply an acquaintance and you want to keep your distance from them, you don’t need to worry – conducting a police records search is completely confidential, and public offices don’t alert individuals that someone is checking public records in their name.
Learning that someone has been arrested and charged with a crime, convicted of a crime or currently has a warrant out for their arrest can be a great tool when determining how accessible you want to make yourself and your family to them. Verifying anyone’s past with a police records search can help you ensure your safety and peace of mind in future endeavors.