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Arkansas Arrest Records
In Arkansas, law enforcement reports generated after an individual is apprehended and taken into custody by the police are called arrest records. Each Arkansas arrest record reveals an arrestee's identity and details about the incident leading up to an arrest. Such records are preserved by the agencies responsible for the arrests.
Ordinarily, arrest records serve as indisputable proof that someone was suspected or accused of committing a criminal offense. Hence, these documents are often necessary for criminal prosecution and considered public information.
Even though an arrest record is not technically the same as an Arkansas criminal record, its existence and the fact that it is a public record can affect the quality of one's life, possibly limiting their access to suitable housing, jobs, and more. As such, because sometimes an individual can be arrested wrongfully or freed from their charges, Arkansas law permits the sealing of arrest records as a form of relief to acquitted or innocent parties.
Arkansas Arrest Statistics
The Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC), a unit of the Department of Public Safety, publishes annual crime statistical reports compiled from data submitted by law enforcement agencies within the state. Among data released for general consumption are arrest statistics, including the total number of people arrested, their ages, race, gender, and alleged crime.
According to the 2020 report, 103,919 persons were apprehended for criminal activity in Arkansas. The breakdown is thus:
- Group A offenses - 54,745 arrests
- Crimes against persons (murder, rape, simple/aggravated assault): 17,104 arrests.
- Crimes against property (arson, burglary, embezzlement, fraud, theft): 16,479 arrests.
- Crimes against society (prostitution, animal cruelty, drug/narcotic violations): 21,162 arrests.
- Group B offenses (bad checks, DUIs, disorderly conduct, trespass, and other offenses): 49,174 arrests.
Simple assault had the highest reported arrests in the "Crimes Against Persons" category, coming up to 8,402 arrests. For crimes against property, shoplifting caused the most arrests (4,865 in total). For Group B offenses, DUIs pulled in the most arrests (5,192 persons). Meanwhile, more people were arrested for drug/narcotics violations than any other offense in the "Crimes Against Society" category, or any other offense category for that matter. As a result, drug/narcotics violations were the leading cause of arrests in Arkansas in 2020, totaling 15,893 persons.
What is an Arrest Record in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, an arrest record is the official documentation of a person's arrest or temporary detainment. It is a compilation of all criminal offenses that someone has been apprehended for in the state. Arresting law enforcement agencies typically maintain these records.
However, some arrest records are maintained as part of a person's criminal history by the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC), the state's central repository for criminal history information. Arkansas law (Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-1503 (2)) gives a different definition to those arrest records or information.
According to the law, any arrest record maintained by the ACIC means "felony arrest information in which disposition or conviction information has not been entered into the central repository." The following do not constitute ACIC arrest records:
- Misdemeanor arrest records.
- Felony arrest records of a person whose case was resolved by acquittal, dismissal, or nolle prosequi.
- Felony arrest records that are over three years old from the arrest date.
What is Contained in an Arrest Record?
An Arkansas arrest record will contain the following information:
- The suspect's identity and description, including their name, date of birth, age, current address, fingerprints, height, weight, and distinguishing features (hair color, eye color, tattoos, scars, etc.)
- The suspect's photograph
- The date, location, and time of the arrest
- The name of the arresting officer and agency
- Details about the criminal incident and subsequent interrogation
- The crime classification (felony or misdemeanor) and charges filed
Are Arrest Records Public in Arkansas?
Yes. The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) stands as the statutory authority permitting public access to arrest records created by state law enforcement agencies. As a result, anyone who wants to examine an arrest record can contact, visit, or mail the agency in charge of an arrest or maintaining the record (fees apply). As a public record, an arrest record may also show up on a criminal background check.
Who Can Access Arrest Records?
Because arrest records are public information in Arkansas, residents and other parties have the right to demand arrest records from the police without providing a reason for their request. This includes employers, family, friends, colleagues, and other interested parties.
Also, members of the public can access arrest information compiled in open Arkansas criminal history records maintained by the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC). However, suppose the records custodian is the ACIC, and the goal is to retrieve certain arrest information from an Arkansas criminal history record or National/FBI record. In that case, only authorized entities bearing the signed consent of the subject or permitted by law can retrieve the information.
Keep in mind that as much as arrest records are public in Arkansas, some records are protected or sealed from disclosure. Hence, a requester will be unable to access the record, even when citing the FOIA. A few instances where this may occur:
- The record has been sealed by court order.
- The record is confidential by law.
- Disclosure of the record will interfere with a police investigation.
- A person's life may be endangered if the arrest is revealed.
How Do I Lookup Someone's Arrest Records in Arkansas?
There are two ways by which an individual can look up someone's arrest records in Arkansas. One is to ask the arresting law enforcement agency directly, and the other is to search the internet.
Retrieving an arrest record from the police is as simple as finding the appropriate agency's contact information to place an inquiry or visiting the agency's physical location to review the information. Meanwhile, online arrest record searches can be carried out on the websites of the county sheriffs (a sheriff's office may provide a log of recent arrests on its official site). The former often requires the requester to pay a small fee to the agency to obtain the arrest record, while the latter is entirely free, yet the information dispensed may be limited.
Furthermore, civilians and certain entities qualified by law can request someone's criminal history from the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) to obtain arrest information. The difference between the two is that the former can only access arrest information releasable under the FOIA. While such information is constrained to arrests in the state, one does not need the subject of the record's consent or statutory backing to obtain the record. On the other hand, a qualified entity can look up certain arrest information, provided the party has the signed consent of the record's subject or is authorized by law.
Any civilian who wants to view the arrest information in a person's criminal history must use the Arkansas Criminal History (ARCH) system offered by the ACIC. There is a $24 non-refundable fee per search to use the platform, payable by debit or credit card. Meanwhile, qualified parties can use the Online Criminal Background Check System or mail/hand-deliver a completed form (ASP-122) to retrieve the information. Using the online background check system costs $22 per search or $11 for volunteers, while the in-person or mail application costs $25 per request. Below are the relevant addresses:
Arkansas State Police Identification Bureau
1 State Police Plaza Drive
Little Rock, AR 72209
Arkansas State Police Headquarters
One State Police Plaza Drive
Little Rock, AR 72209
TelePhone: (501) 618-8000
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday)
Note that only the following arrest records are obtainable from the ACIC:
- For members of the public: Open Arkansas felony arrests not above three years old. Records of sealed arrests, traffic arrests, juvenile arrests, unresolved misdemeanor arrests, felony arrests over three years old, arrests that were dismissed, and arrests where the suspect was not fingerprinted are not available to the public.
- For qualified entities bearing a subject's written consent: Pending Arkansas arrests within the last three years, i.e., arrests where the suspect has not gone to trial.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Arkansas
A subpoena becomes necessary when an individual needs to bring certain records or materials as physical evidence to a civil, criminal, administrative proceeding or make someone appear to testify in court. Ordinarily, there are two main types of subpoenas.
- Subpoena ad testificandum (commonly known as a "witness subpoena"), and
- Subpoena duces tecum.
There is a third kind of subpoena: deposition subpoena. However, it is often considered a type of subpoena ad testificandum.
When the objective is to prompt the custodian of a law enforcement agency to release a copy of an arrest record within a certain period, the subpoena to use is the Subpoena Duces Tecum. Typically, a person will need to subpoena an arrest record if it is not releasable under the FOIA.
To obtain a subpoena duces tecum, one must apply to the court. This entails completing a subpoena form and submitting it to the court for issuance (an authorized attorney may also perform this duty). The form should contain the name of the issuing court, names of the parties involved, recipient's title and address, requested documents or items, and the requesting attorney's name, address, and contact details (if applicable). A statewide form may be available for the request. For example, litigants in civil cases can use the subpoena form provided by the judiciary.
After acquiring the subpoena, it must be personally served on the custodian of the law enforcement agency that possesses the record(s). It is best to contact the agency beforehand to inquire about service and processing procedures, as these often vary. It is also good to have an attorney explain the procedural requirements, as laws frequently change.
How to Search for an Inmate in the Arkansas Prison System
Anyone arrested, cited, or summoned in Arkansas will eventually be convicted or acquitted of an alleged crime, or the charges will be dismissed. As criminal convictions often involve a loss of freedom, individuals may be confined in county jail or a state correctional facility for some time or the rest of their lives.
When searching for an inmate in the Arkansas prison system, the first inquiry should be to the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC), the state agency that oversees the prison system. The ADC provides an Inmate Search feature on its official site, which can help the public find an inmate. Searches can be conducted using the following criteria:
- ADC number
- First or last name
- Offense category
(The researcher can also retrieve or print inmate information with or without photographs.)
An inmate search on the Arkansas Department of Corrections' site will yield the following results:
- The inmate's full name and aliases
- Identifying information (hair color, eye color, height, weight)
- ADC number
- Date of birth
- Information about the place of confinement (the facility's name, street address, and mailing address)
- Initial receipt date
- Prospective transfer or parole eligibility (PE/TE) date
- Custody classification
- Good time class
- Sentence length
- Prior and current sentence history
- Major guilty disciplinary violations
- Risk score/level
- Court orders
- Program achievements
- Probation or suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) history
Another way to search for an inmate who is currently incarcerated is to query the county sheriff or police department supervising the inmate. However, this only applies to people confined in county or city jails. Other than contacting the applicable department, the searcher can also look for the information online, as local law enforcement agencies often offer inmate locators on their websites. Inmate information that may be found includes:
- The inmate's full name and aliases (if any)
- Intake date and time
- Arrest/booking details (e.g., date of arrest, booking number, booking date)
- Arresting agency
- Offense/charge information
How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Arkansas
Records are kept on people who served time or were detained in Arkansas. Hence, finding out if someone has been in jail is as easy as contacting or visiting a county sheriff’s office or local police department to ask for the records.
However, obtaining these records online may not be as simple. This is because while law enforcement agencies may provide ample information on inmates or detainees currently in the state's jails or prisons, electronic data on past inmates is not usually available. At most, one may find the release date and time on a sheriff's or police department's website. In those cases, an interested party can run a background search to find information on any convictions.
How Long Do Arkansas Arrest Records Stay on File?
In Arkansas, an arrest will likely remain on a person's public record indefinitely. The state does not establish a retention schedule for these records nor permit their automatic destruction after some time elapses.
Ordinarily, for as long the arrest record stays on file, any interested party can access parts of it under the state's FOIA. However, certain arrest records can be sealed under state law. While sealing does not permanently destroy a record, it shields it from further public scrutiny.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?
There are several differences between an arrest record and an arrest warrant. However, the most significant one relates to the document's purpose. An arrest warrant becomes necessary when a police officer or grand jury has reason to believe ("probable cause") that someone performed a criminal act. This document assists the police in arresting a person without violating the individual's constitutional rights.
A judge or magistrate can issue an arrest warrant in Arkansas. The document can be released to arrest someone for a non-felony offense or a traffic offense that does not involve drunk driving, death/injury, or property damage.
Meanwhile, an arrest record is what comes after an arrest, despite the arrest being performed with a warrant or not. Unlike an arrest warrant that requires the showing of probable cause before it can be issued, an arrest record is simply a document created by law enforcement to log the events surrounding an arrest and the accused's identity.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?
An arrest record is often referred to as a criminal record. While this designation is not inaccurate—after all, the record proves that someone was questioned or charged with a crime—it does not imply that the person received a guilty verdict at a trial or pled guilty to a crime. Hence, it is not a complete representation of a person's contact with the criminal justice system.
A criminal record, on the other hand, constitutes an individual's entire criminal history. It typically includes all convictions, arrests, parole violations, sentences, acquittals, and dismissals.
How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Arkansas?
Most methods used to secure a public arrest record require an individual to pay a fee to the records custodian. This fee covers the search and reproduction of the record for the individual's inspection.
When anyone wants to obtain an arrest record for free in Arkansas, the internet is the best place to find those records. Sheriff offices and police departments often maintain databases of arrests on their official sites, which can be viewed at no cost. However, note that electronic records may produce less information than records obtained by written or oral request.
How to Search for an Arkansas Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service
Arkansas law permits the public to request and obtain open arrest records from law enforcement agencies by contacting or visiting the applicable agency. Some requests can also be submitted online. However, because state agencies often have considerable processing times, a person who wants to retrieve an arrest record quickly may be unable to do so. This is where a third-party search service may come in handy.
A third-party search service (sometimes called an online background check service) is an independent entity that gathers and disseminates public data, including arrest records, through the internet. The benefit of using such services—though the question of accuracy or completeness might come up—is that one can quickly and affordably access arrest records without having to go through a lengthy process.
To search for an Arkansas arrest record with a third-party search service, an individual must visit the site of their preferred service. The searcher must provide certain record details to get results. This usually includes a first name, last name, and state—but there might be other criteria for filtering searches, such as age and city.
Most reputable sites often require a one-time fee or monthly subscription to furnish arrest reports. While the arrest data retrievable is somewhat similar to what the law enforcement agencies provide, the service may include information about the subject's court records, related persons and family, social media accounts, and more.
What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?
As soon as an individual discovers a mistake in their arrest record, the first step should be to challenge the record by contacting or visiting the law enforcement agency responsible for creating/maintaining the record (i.e., the agency that made the arrest). There is usually no fee for the process.
Suppose the error was found in one's criminal history report. In that case, the individual will need to be fingerprinted at a law enforcement agency. These fingerprints will be compared against those on file. If there is no match to the arrest, the erroneous information will be removed. Then, the record will be updated, and the subject will receive it at no charge. The right to challenge such records is given by Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-1013. For further information, inquiries can be directed to the Administrator of the ACIC Criminal History Division or (501) 682-2222
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Arkansas
Expungement refers to a type of court proceeding initiated to erase or destroy some records. The purpose of this is to ensure that the record becomes inaccessible to the public and restore the subject's rights and privileges. Ordinarily, expungement applies to criminal records.
States also establish a second procedure to remove records from public view, known as "sealing." Unlike an expungement, sealing a record does not mean that the record will be physically destroyed, but rather that the record will be hidden from the public, and only select entities will be able to access it.
In some states, the sealing and expungement processes are as described above. In others, an expungement does not mean the complete destruction of records but rather its concealment from public review. When it concerns adult arrest records, Arkansas only seals them. However, the state permits the expungement of juvenile arrest records under Ark. Code. Ann. 9-27-309 (b).
The statutory authority guiding the sealing of adult arrest records in Arkansas is Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-1401, et seq. (also known as the Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2013). Under these laws, persons eligible to seal such a record must petition the District Court or Circuit Court in the county where the arrest occured. An eligible person is someone whose charges were not filed by the prosecuting attorney within one year of the arrest.
The petition forms to file with the court are thus:
- Petition to Seal Arrest
- Order to Seal Arrest
Blank forms can be retrieved from the Arkansas Crime Information Center's forms page. There is no fee assessed to file the petition. The clerk of the court can provide instructions on filling the forms and the court's sealing process. An attorney can provide guidance on the legal process as well.
Usually, the court will allow thirty days to pass before granting or denying the petition. This time can be used by the prosecuting attorney to oppose the petition. If the petition is denied, the petitioner cannot file again until one year has passed since the denial.
Note that, according to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-1416, the following people can still access a sealed arrest record in Arkansas:
- The subject of the record or an attorney with the subject's written consent
- A criminal justice agency for employment purposes or certain criminal background checks
- A court, if it is in the interests of justice or subsequent adjudication of guilt of the subject
- A prosecuting attorney for criminal justice purposes
- The Arkansas Crime Information Center
- The Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training
- A state agency or board that licenses healthcare professionals