How To Find Out If Any File Of Criminal Charges Exist

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

The soaring use of online dating apps and websites may be a fast and simple way to meet ‘the one’ (potentially), but it raises its own safety risks.

How do you find out if the person you think you like has any criminal charges on file? While impulsivity is fun, it is not worth the potential downfall of voluntarily hooking up with a serious offender.

So, how can you make sure you are connecting with a decent person? 

How To Find Out If Any File Of Criminal Charges Exist

Thankfully in America, the Freedom of information Act and Public State Record lets us do just that.

This law enables any member of the public to look up another person’s arrest record, criminal charges and interactions with the Criminal Justice System.

However, using the free criminal record database does not provide the best results.  Information is frequently missing or limited.

Of course, there are many reasons for finding out if any file of criminal charges exist. Whatever the reason, this process is a public right. Understanding how to go about searching, to quickly get the answers to your questions is something everyone should know.

Read our essential guide to show you exactly what to do. We share the key information, offer step-by-step instructions, and provide must-know facts about criminal charges, records, and files.

When you have finished reading this helpful guide, you will be able to obtain the relevant information with ease and certainty. Don’t forget to check out our final thoughts for additional information and guidance.

What Is A Criminal Record?

How To Find Out If Any File Of Criminal Charges Exist

A criminal record (sometimes referred to as a rap sheet), is a folder containing documents of all the times a person has met with the Criminal Justice System. Each file is ordered chronologically, dating from the earliest offense to the most recent,

What Information Does A Criminal Record Contain?

A criminal record has all the information you could possibly wish for regarding an individual’s bad behavior.

The information includes all arrest and pre-arrest details, court hearings and trial outcomes. It even shares descriptions of the individual in question and circumstances that led to any arrest.

The public can get relevant documents from the record custodian. They do not need permission to do so. That said, each jurisdiction varies its record custodian.

Many states hold the primary law enforcement agency as the record custodian.

How To Obtain Criminal Record Check

The first point of call is to put in an official request to the record custodian. Given the high demand, record custodians have record request protocols to make the process simple.

To find information on their person of interest, you can make requests in-person, via email, and also by conducting an online search. The online search method is by far the easiest, quickest, and most popular.

Many third-party search organizations exist, but you must pay a fee. As previously discussed, free public record searches are available, but the results are often very limited.

Types Of Criminal Records

1. Arrest Record

When an offender is arrested and taken into custody, the arresting officer must complete an arrest record containing all the details.

A person’s arrest record (or arrest report) can either be a separate document or form part of their criminal record. Arrest reports are the responsibility of the arresting agency.

They can be accessed by the public, but cannot serve as a criminal record on their own. Most arresting agencies offer free public access to these records via their website.

2. Sex Offender Registry

This is a public searchable database that contains details of all convicted sex offenders in the U. S. A national sex offender registry is provided by the Department of Justice.

3. Inmate Records

These are documents containing information about offenders who are incarcerated. They are public records under the Public Records Law.

4. Juvenile Court Records

These are closed records that cannot be accessed by the public. This is intended to offer protection to minors who offend.

5. Criminal Conviction Records

Also referred to as ‘arrest and conviction records’ and provide every detail from the point of arrest, all the way through to what happens at trial.

As with the other publicly available records mentioned, these can be obtained by the clerk of court. This will be the court where the associated judge sits.

The public can request both print and digital copies. They can be sought in-person, via email, and more popularly, through the online database.

Must-Know Criminal Record Jargon

When trying to find files of criminal records, it is important to understand certain legal terminology. These include:

Arrest Record – Record of an individual’s arrest. It tells of the charges made, the law enforcement who dealt with it and the state where the arrest occurred.

Arrest Report – Once an individual (regardless to whether they are found guilty), the officer files a report. It is referred to as an arrest report or police report.

Arrest Warrant – When the courts officially request a person is arrested.

Charges Dismissed – when a charge against an individual gets dropped.

Charges Filed – When charges against an individual get filed. This happens at the time of arrest.

Criminal Charges – This refers to the criminal charges officially brought against the offender following an arrest.

Criminal Public Records – So, each time an arrest is made, it has its own type of criminal record attached.

 Record Check – This refers to an online search of criminal record databases in order to find a match with their person of interest.

Criminal Record Search – This is more to do with searching the criminal history of a person.

Employment Check – Finding out if a prospective employee has had previous convictions.

Criminal Record Check – Resourcing many online databases of criminal records to check a person of interest. 

Police Record Check – Public can access this to look at details of an arrest.


As we can see, if you feel uneasy and wish to check an individual’s background, there are many resources available. Most are free, and those which charge fees are fairly cost-effective.

It is reassuring to know that it is quite easy and hassle-free to obtain much-needed peace of mind.