The public arrest record: What it can do and what you can do

public arrest record

Find Public Arrest Records

Arrest records are official documents that chronicle all the instances on which an individual was detained by law enforcement officials on suspicion of committing a criminal offense. They also detail various particulars pertaining to the incidents such as the nature of the crimes that the individual was suspected of committing when they were taken into custody.

 

In the United States, such records are not protected by any personal privacy entitlements as is the case in some other countries around the world. As a result, they are generally freely available for virtually anyone to access them whenever they so choose to do. In the aftermath of their detention, the following question is among those which frequently find their way to the forefront of the mind of the arrestee: What can my public arrest record do to me and what can I do about it?

Where can one find public arrest records?

The freedom of information provisions in the laws that regulate the administration of such records make it possible for copies of these types of documents to pop in a whole host of places. Some of these sources are official ones that are maintained by local, state, and federal authorities with the responsibility for administrating records related to such occurrences.

On the other hand, there are also many other unofficial sources from which such information can be retrieved. Many of these unofficial repositories are websites which are maintained by private citizens who have a personal interest in such matters. In a lot of instances, this preoccupation is fuelled by commercial imperatives. These various resources make it possible for such information to be yielded by simply entering an individual’s name into the search bar of any credible search engine to conduct an instant arrest record search.

The consequences of having a publicly available arrest record

If embarrassment was the only consequence of having an arrest record that was publicly available, it is arguable that such a fate would be quite tolerable for the vast majority of individuals. However, there are many other potentially more severe implications that give rise to significant unease in the minds of many people who have such documents with their names on them floating around out there in the public sphere.

These situations are largely due to the fact that many people view an arrest record with as much suspicion as they would a criminal record that features criminal charges and arrests that actually produced charges for the suspect and convictions handed down in a court of law. Such “convictions” in the “court of public opinion” can result in drastic reductions in the number of opportunities that flow the individual’s way in diverse areas of their lives. Some of the more common concerns are detailed below.

  • Compromised job prospects

Irrespective of the position for which an applicant is registering their interest, a comprehensive background check on them is now a prerequisite of virtually all screening exercises that employers undertake. The nature of the job (including the responsibilities that the successful candidate will be expected to shoulder) generally dictates how extensive and intensive these processes turn out to be.

For positions in which the incumbent will have access to sensitive information or routinely interact with individuals from vulnerable groups such as the elderly, applicants are generally subjected to greater scrutiny than for other types of job opportunities. In such situations, even the existence of a prior arrest can scupper an individual’s chances of landing the job they desire. A simple public arrest records search that is conducted via the Internet is often all that is needed to reveal all such information that the employer or their agents want to know.

  • Limited housing opportunities

There are many landlords who will also scrutinize the arrest records of individuals when screening prospective tenants to take up residency in the apartments or houses that they own. In such instances, arrests that resulted from suspicions that concern the commission of acts of violence are generally among those that most severely compromise the potential tenant’s chances of getting the keys to the dwelling. Suspicions regarding acts of vandalism are also strongly frowned upon because they can result in tangible property damage and material loss if – contrary to what law enforcement officials may have ultimately determined – they were not totally unsubstantiated.

What are the available options for making these records private?

  • Sealing

The sealing of an arrest record is an option that is at the disposal of some individuals who have previously had such a run-in with the law. The process of sealing is a means by which access to the aforementioned document can be restricted to representatives of some law enforcement agencies, judicial officials, etc. However, it should be noted that not all arrests are covered under sealing provisions in statute. Additionally, the laws pertaining to the sealing of such records vary from state to state.

  • Expungement

Expungement is another alternative that exists for people with incidents on their arrest record that they would like to have “scrubbed”. In many respects, it is a more permanent fix than the sealing option alluded to above. Depending on the nature of the arrest, the individual may be able to initiate an arrest record expungement.

A public arrest record is a document that can cause considerable embarrassment for the person whose unsolicited interactions with law enforcement it details. It can also result in many other undesirable consequences that can have a more tangible and longer lasting effect on the person, family members, and their friends. These negative repercussions include the impairment of employment prospects and the limitation of housing options.

About Angela

Hello, Cyber world! I currently work as the Web Content Editor for the Expunge Center page and through my whole life writing and blogging has been in my Top priorities.

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