A few days ago, I read a news article about the resurgence of inquiries pertaining to criminal court records. In fact, the burgeoning interest in information on arrest warrants and arrest records is now making programmers look into the possibility of using AI for a criminal check.
But even without the assistance of artificial intelligence, I can tell you for a fact that information from the police blotter can go a long way in enhancing the safety quotient of a community. Think about it this way, if you know who all figure in the warrant list of local law enforcement, you will be able to keep an eye out for the antisocial elements in your area.
With that covered, I come to a very important question- Is it even possible to get the police arrest log and warrants list? As a civilian you are bound to wonder about the criminal history records made available to the public.
I will, of course, tell you how to access arrest records and details on active warrants. But first, let me explain a few things about data that is clubbed under the umbrella term of “criminal history information”. For that, I am going to start by answering the question:
What information do I get when I seek a criminal check in NC?
I know things get confusing when you are bombarded with a lot of investigative jargon and terms, particularly if you are not in any way linked to the judiciary or law enforcement. So, I am going to simplify this for you.
To begin with, let us talk about the term “criminal history information” or “criminal court records” or “background check report”. All three mean the same thing and include a range of information about the involvement of your subject in criminal cases.
If I were to segregate the details offered in response to a crime check into distinct categories, I would say you get four types of information:
- Details pertaining to arrest warrants
- Arrest records
- Criminal court records
- Correctional details
What are arrest records from North Carolina?
As the name suggests, this is information pertaining to custodial detention. Simply put, this is where they tell you if your subject was ever taken into custody by the police. Typically, the details are about time spent in the county jail as well as in state penitentiaries, if the person of interest was convicted.
I am going to take this explanation one step further and ask you to imagine a scenario where the subject was arrested and subsequently released on bail. The criminal case is still under way, so this individual has not been sentenced, thus is not incarcerated in a state correctional center.
But, the fact that he was detained by the local police means that he will have arrest records in his name. There are only a few instances in which this arrest report will be removed from the system or sealed off. I will talk about these later in the article.
When I seek a warrant search in NC, what information will I get?
The operative word in that term is “warrant”. Although warrants and arrests are inherently linked in a “cause and effect” equation, information on arrest warrants is different from an arrest report.
You already know what arrest records include. When you opt for a warrant inquiry, you are essentially telling a state entity to find all active warrants in the name of a person. If the agency chooses to part with this information, you will know about arrest orders that have been served as well those that remain outstanding in the system, meaning arrests have still to be made by using these orders.
While I have found it fairly east to access the arrest log for an area, seeking details on outstanding warrants is a different ball game all together. The police will rarely offer this information online for fear of alerting suspects of their impending arrest.
In fact, I could only find 4-5 counties, out of the 100 in North Carolina, where the police offer their warrants list on their website. Typically, if you get your hands on information about active warrants, you will know about the charges that led to the issue of the detention order as well because this information is a part of the data submitted while seeking the warrant and it is mentioned in the document.
What information will I get in response to an offender search from NC?
Here again, you get a clue about the type of inquiry that you have chosen and the response you can expect from the term itself. Because it is an offender search, it is taken for granted that you want to know if your subject was convicted of a criminal offense since only after a conviction will an individual be termed as a criminal/offender.
So, with an offender search, you will get to know if the subject was ever held in a state penitentiary and if so, for how long and under what charges. If he/she has since been released, you will also get to know if he has been let out on parole or after the completion of his sentence.
While information on arrest records and the local arrest reports are kept by the judiciary and law enforcement offices of the county, this information is made available to the public and local governance by the NC Courts and the State Department of Public Safety.
What should I know about arrest warrants issued in various counties of NC?
I know that most people have a rough idea about what arrest warrants are. However, the popular perception is that these detention orders are issued by the police. This misconception often leads to a degree of apprehension about the safety of regular folks against unlawful detentions.
Relax! You guys are complete safe because arrest warrants are sought by the police, but they are issued by the judiciary. More specifically, it is the court of the magistrate that sanctions these orders and there is nothing haphazard about the process nor does the judiciary blindly accept the request for such orders.
Arrest warrants are only issued when the magistrate is convinced that probable cause exist to believe a particular crime was committed by the individual against whom the warrant is being requested.
After that explanation, I am sure you understand how and why the judiciary and the police both have information on active warrants. That said, when you launch a warrant inquiry, you will get details on arrest warrants issued in the state of NC and not in other parts of the country.
As a civilian, can I seek information on arrest warrants and the police arrest log?
Yes, you can seek arrest reports and the criminal court records in the name of third parties as well as request a background check in your name. You can get this information from local judicial and law enforcement offices as well as state agencies.
Who you should approach will depend on the type of information you want and the reason for initiating the background search; more on this coming up.
Can I access an arrest report from NC, online?
Yes, you will be able to get details on all offenders who have spent time in NC correctional centers by using the criminal check feature offered by the NC Department of Public Safety. I have used the offender search tool on http://webapps6.doc.state.nc.us/opi/offendersearch.do?method=view to compile detailed arrest reports for my clients; that is how good this facility is.
You will just need the name of the subject, and you will get all “correctional “data available in his/her name. Even if he/she is no longer in prison, you will still be able to find information on this person by using this tool.
What about a NC warrant inquiry, can I conduct this online?
I have only found a warrants list being offered by the police departments of 3 or 4 counties in North Carolina. So, I’d say, “no”, you cannot normally get this information online. In fact, the only way to access details on outstanding warrants is to go to the local Sheriff’s Dept or the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court in person.
Are there any state agencies that I can approach for a criminal check?
The State Bureau of Investigation is the only agency that offers finger print based background checks. But, these cannot be initiated in the name of third parties. In other words, if you need a background report for immigration, adoption and employment, you will have to procure it from this agency. You can get more information on the fee structure and the submission of fingerprint cards on http://ncsbi.gov/Services/Background-Checks.aspx.
What if I am seeking arrest records and details on arrest warrants in a specific county in North Carolina?
Like I said, you can either go to the police or the Clerk of Court’s office for a third party or personal background check in a particular county. While the police may just offer information on the existence of arrest warrants in the name of the subject, you can get more detailed criminal history records from the Clerk of Court’s Office. There is a standard fee of $25 for the service, and it applies to all the Clerks’ offices across the state.
For how long, after the occurrence of a criminal incident, can I access criminal court records pertaining to it?
Arrest records and information on active warrants is held by various law enforcement and judicial agencies, indefinitely. The only time they are sealed is when the request to expunge the records is granted by the court or if the subject passes away.