Knowing you should have both your criminal and arrest records is one thing. Knowing how to acquire these reports is a whole different matter.
Since California’s arrest records are a matter of public record, you’re legally allowed access to the information, but to obtain it, you need to know where to go and who to talk to.
Many people assume that an arrest record isn’t the same as a conviction, they don’t need to worry about obtaining that particular record. However, you will be surprised by how much information that simple document contains.
When you read through your arrest record you’ll learn:
- The suspect’s name
- Date of birth
- A physical description
- The crimes the suspect has been charged with
- Booking information
It’s not unusual for an arrest record to also include some information that provides insight into the investigation, why the police suspected the individual, and the person’s past behavior/arrests.
While you are entitled to your arrest record, it’s not always easy to get this report. The simplest way to do this is by going directly to the police station where you were arrested and asking for a copy. You will have to be prepared to show some proof of identity.
The second place you can contact for a copy of your arrest record is the county courthouse. It’s important to understand that you can’t go to any county courthouse, you must contact the one in the county where you were arrested.
The best time to obtain a copy of your arrest records is shortly after you’ve been arrested. Not only are recent records easier to obtain, having a copy of the record immediately following your arrest makes it possible for you to confirm that all the information included on the arrest record is accurate. If there is inaccurate in the arrest record, it is far easier to get it corrected in the days following your arrest than if you wait a month or longer.