How to Find Out Why Someone Was Arrested

Search For Public & Criminal Records

Unfortunately, people don’t go around telling you why they were arrested. However, knowing the reason can make a world of difference when it comes to your safety or even your ease of mind. As such, you need to know where to find legitimate answers to your questions to avoid misunderstandings or worse.

That’s why in this article, we’ll tell you all you need to do to find out the reason behind someone’s arrest, from where to start your search to who you can ask for help. So, let’s get started, shall we?

How Can You Discover if and Why Someone Had Been Arrested?

To put it briefly, you can discover all you need to know about someone’s arrest by looking at their arrest record.

It’ll contain all the details that concerned that person’s arrest, from why it happened to where and when it happened. Not only that, but arrest records also state the suspect’s physical description, date of birth, full name, as well as the court responsible for their case.

All in all, arrest records will be more than enough to illuminate the offense the one you’re looking into was suspected of. However, you should keep in mind that arrest records are not the same thing as criminal conviction records, though some occasionally refer to them as criminal records.

Basically, just because someone has an arrest record, it does NOT mean that he has been charged and convicted for that crime. He has to have a criminal conviction record for that.

So, now that we’ve established this point, let’s see how exactly you can access those arrest records.

Ways to Find Arrest Records

If you need to get your hands on someone’s arrest records, you can try the following methods until one of them strikes gold.

Pay a Visit to the Involved Agencies

Your best bet of finding someone’s arrest record is to check for their arrest record at the county clerk’s office, aka the record office. This is the most direct and reliable source of finding out why someone was arrested, as all the paperwork involved in the arrest will be filed there.

If you’re unable to find what you want there, then you should then head either to the courthouse or the police department that made the arrest and ask to see the arrest report. Though not all police departments make the arrest paperwork public, some do, and a small shot is better than no shot at all.

It’s important to remember that you don’t always trust what people say, even police officers. They may remember the situation falsely, or they may lack some information. So, you should always try to see official, written documents about the arrest to ensure you’re getting the full story.

Search an Official Website

Now, though visiting the involved agencies is the fastest way of finding a person’s arrest record, what happens if you don’t live near these places? More importantly, what if you’re not sure where that person supposedly committed a crime?

Thankfully, you don’t have to make the trip to find out whether someone has an arrest record or not. You can simply check the Department of Justice website or visit your state/county website and look there. Sometimes, the involved court can also make those records available on the internet.

As such, even if you’re not sure where that person lived precisely, you can start in a county, then work your way around.

However, if you DO happen to know where that person lived, all you have to do is visit that state’s website, then type the state or county name plus court records or criminal record in the search bar. This will lead you to another website in which you can conduct your search more thoroughly until you can access that person’s public records.

Now, if you happen to find the elusive record, don’t always expect it to be free. While some establishments won’t make you pay, others will charge you a certain fee in order to get a copy. However, the amount is usually quite reasonable, and it’s mostly there to cover the printing and mailing costs.

Make a Google Search

As simple as it may sound, Google can sometimes come in handy when trying to find if and why someone was arrested.

Simply type the individual’s name between quotation marks into the search bar and see where the results take you. However, if you enter more specific information related to that person, the results will be much more helpful, eventually leading you to the obscure arrest record.

Use a Background Check Service

If you want to save yourself the trouble of searching on your own, you can simply use an arrest record lookup service to do the work for you.

Whether they have to put in the legwork or pay for accessing government records, these services will eventually get to the bottom of the story. Sometimes, they merely put together all the info they could find online about that person; however, these results are usually out of date.

Now, you also have the option of using online lookup services and sites that have nationwide access to arrest records and, occasionally, arrest warrants. Once you pay the specified monthly subscription, you can search for an unlimited number of arrest records, though some sites charge per a single search.

So, as long as you don’t mind the expense, background check service can be a great way to save yourself the hassle, and you can rest easy knowing all searches will be confidential. So, if you’re looking for a reliable lookup service, here are some of the best services you can find online.

1. TruthFinder

Coming in the form of a website and a mobile app, TruthFinder is an excellent way to look into someone’s criminal past. It gives you access to public records and provides you with the information you need in a clear, coherent report.

Since it provides you with access to things like criminal records, civil court records, and even you can find traffic records, you can find out pretty much all you need to know about someone’s criminal past.

You’ll also be able to find their current and previous addresses as well as their relatives and used aliases. And if you pay for the premium report, you can learn about their weapon’s permit, employment history, and other key information.

Thankfully, TruthFinder has an excellent customer support team. So, if you ever feel lost, all you have to do is reach out, and they’ll help you on your search.

2. Instant CheckMate

Instant Checkmate is another great service to look into an individual’s arrest records, sex offender status, as well as any other information you hope to find. From marriage and divorce records to previous addresses and special media profiles, Instant Checkmate is an altogether great way to know if someone is safe.

Even if you don’t know that individual’s full name, Instant Checkmate can still pull up some great results with just a partial name if you provide it with that person’s current location.

Again, to gain access to things like weapon permits, bankruptcy reports, and civil court judgments, you’ll have to pay extra for the premium report. However, as long as that information is irrelevant to you, you can just stick with the regular report.

3. Intelius

While the last two services are geared toward full background checks, Intelius gives you the option of requesting a criminal records check, no more, no less. You can check criminal records, both state-wide or on the national level, for different price points. However, if you wish for a full background check, then you can choose that option as well.

But, it’s not just this feature that sets Intelius apart from other services. For a price, Intelius will provide you with a court runner to check non-computerized court records. As such, you won’t find a more comprehensive criminal record check than with Intelius.

Can Anybody Check Arrest Records?

Technically, yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Basically, arrest records are considered public information in the United States, and under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967 (FOIA), anyone can request an arrest record from the relevant agency at any time.

However, since FOIA is considered a federal law, states can set some restrictions on who can look at those records as well as limit the amount of information that can be seen by the public. You should know that these restrictions and limitations significantly vary from state to state. So, while you can find out if, say, someone posted bail in one state, you may not get the same info in another.

And it’s not just that. It’s worth noting that not all records are made public. This happens when a state seals or expunges someone’s record, which usually occurs when the case concerns a juvenile. Accordingly, you and everybody else will be able to access those records no matter what you do.

Nevertheless, most arrest records are public records, so with a good search, you should be able to find what you want without any fuss.

When Should You Check if Someone Has an Arrest Record?

Generally, arrest records can tell you a lot about a person’s character, which can matter quite a lot when it comes to tenancy or employment. As such, landlords and employers will almost always check for an individual’s arrest records, though again, don’t forget that arrest records are not the same thing as criminal conviction records.

Still, arrest records can make a huge deciding factor if you’re deciding on whether someone is safe to interact with. For example, say someone is applying to be your roommate, and you want to see if they don’t have any previous offenses of rape or theft. The same scenario can be applied to a love interest or a new neighbor.

Also, say you’re familiar with someone, but you think they’re hiding something. A good way to lay your suspicions to rest is to look into their arrest history and see if it matches up with what you know about them. All in all, if you ever want to have a better idea about who you’re dealing with, their arrest record will be a great place to start.


How Should Landlords and Employers Run a Background Check? 

Landlords and employers can’t deny someone a job or housing if they don’t use a Consumer Reporting Agency for their background check. If they don’t use such an agency, they will be violating a US federal law according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What Is Written in an Arrest Record?

An arrest record usually states the charge/offense and its category, the arrestee’s full name, the location of the crime, the case number and type, as well as the court name.

Can You Find Out if Someone is a Sex Offender from an Arrest Report?

While an arrest record will state why a person was arrested, it won’t disclose whether they were charged with the crime. As such, it’s best that you check your state’s Sex Offender Registry for more accurate information. If you fear that that person may not be registered in your state’s registry, then you can look in the nationwide databases.


If you ever want to find out why someone was arrested, your best course of action would be to ask for their arrest record at the proper governmental agency, be it a court, record office, or police department. If you can’t get to those places, try searching the Department of Justice or the state’s website and see if anything turns up.

If that’s too much work for you, then you should use a background check service such as TruthFinder or Intelius. These services will get you all you need with just a few simple clicks in change for a simple subscription fee. Whichever method you decide to go with, we hope your search is fruitful.