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Florida Arrest Records

In Florida, an arrest record is a report generated by local or state law enforcement agencies. State law enforcement agencies create this report after arresting a person for committing a crime. However, unlike Florida criminal records, arrest records do not offer definitive proof of the individual's criminal activity. A person is said to be under arrest when taken into police custody following their alleged involvement in a crime.

An arrest record typically includes all information deemed relevant by the arresting agency. It consists of the time and date of the arrest, the alleged offense, details of the police interrogation, and other pertinent information. Arrest records are considered public record information in Florida and they can be obtained from law enforcement agencies across the state.

Florida Arrest Statistics

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) generates crime statistics reports based on data collected from law enforcement agencies in the state.

According to the FDLE's 2019 annual report, law enforcement agencies recorded 679,221 arrests that year. Adult arrests accounted for 634,574 of the total, while juvenile arrests accounted for 44,647. The report further divides the 2019 arrest total by crime category, which includes:

  • Murder: 787 arrests
  • Rape: 1,765 arrests
  • Robbery: 6,006 arrests
  • Aggravated Assault: 24,607 arrests
  • Burglary: 13,560 arrests
  • Larceny: 64,088 arrests
  • Motor Vehicle Theft: 7,779 arrests.

What is a Florida Arrest Record?

Florida arrest records are documents that contain information about persons who have been apprehended because of a crime. These records often bear specifics of the alleged crime(s) plus other arrest and booking information. The record may also contain indictment information.

Regardless, arrest records are not sufficient proof of criminal behavior because they do not confirm that the arrestee was convicted of the alleged offense. Instead, the documents show that the suspect was detained and interrogated about a criminal law violation.

What is Contained in an Arrest Record?

In general, arrest records provide details about the suspect, nature and severity of an alleged crime, the police interrogation, the criminal charges, and future court dates. This includes:

  • The suspect's personal information:
    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Gender
    • Fingerprints
    • Photograph
    • Identifying marks (scars and tattoos)
    • Height and weight
  • Time and location of the arrest
  • The case's current status
  • Crime information
  • The arresting officer's name
  • The arresting agency
  • The detention facility where the suspect is held

Are Arrest Records Public in Florida?

Yes, Florida arrest records are open to the public. Under Florida's Sunshine Law, it is the responsibility of every government agency to make public records, including arrest records, publicly accessible. As such, members of the public can review and copy arrest records from the appropriate records custodian.

Who Can Access Arrest Records?

Arrest records, like other non-sensitive government documents or papers, are considered public records in Florida. As a result, the records are open to the public, including the record holders, legal representatives, family, and more. Employers in Florida are also permitted by state law to inquire about arrest records and utilize them in hiring decisions. However, a statute or a court order may withhold parts or all of an arrest record from public disclosure in some situations.

How Do I Lookup Someone's Arrest Records in Florida?

Generally, law enforcement agencies in Florida maintain criminal and arrest records. Hence, an individual may query local sheriff's offices and police departments for arrest records.

Furthermore, Florida arrest records are retrieved from law enforcement agencies by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and maintained as part of a person's criminal history. The department is committed to providing public access to such records. As such, it supplies the general public with access upon request.

Arrest records maintained by the FDLE can be ordered by requesting someone's criminal history. Orders can be completed online for a $24 fee (and $1 processing fee), payable by credit or debit card.

How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Florida

A subpoena is a judicial order that requires a person or entity to appear to give testimony before the court or produce tangible evidence. In Florida, specific laws and court rules govern the issuance and execution of subpoenas. For example, Title VII, Chapter 92 of the Florida Statutes, Rule 8.041 of the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Title VI, Section 48.031 of the Florida Statutes, and Rule 12.410 of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

Regardless, to legally subpoena arrest records in Florida, an individual must petition the court to issue a Subpoena for Production of Documentary Evidence This type of subpoena commands the production of books, papers, documents, and electronically stored information.

Any party who wants to compel the production of arrest records in Florida may do so by serving a subpoena to produce such evidence on the records custodian. The party with the subpoena must also serve a notice of its issuance on each case party and file this notice in court. This must be done on the day that the subpoena is served on the records custodian. The subpoena may be served by any adult (above 18 years) who is not a party to the underlying court case.

The following must be stated on the notice of issuance of a subpoena:

  • The entity who is the subject of the subpoena
  • The date the subpoena was issued
  • The date and time for the production of the record(s)

How to Search for an Inmate in the Florida Prison System

The Florida Department of Corrections oversees the Florida prison system. This supervision extends to ensuring the functionality of state jails and prisons as well as the maintenance of records on offenders incarcerated in those facilities. These records are called inmate records.

Inmate records are a collection of official documents that include personal and administrative information about people held in Florida's correctional and detention facilities. The records are similar to criminal records, but they also have details on a person's incarceration. The information in an inmate's record includes:

  • Personal data, including name, age, and gender
  • Mugshot
  • Location
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Crime and sentencing information

Hence, searching inmate records is the best way to obtain information on inmates within the Florida prison system. When attempting to carry out such searches, the offender information search site provided by the Florida Department of Corrections is an invaluable tool. With this tool, inquirers can find inmates by first/last name or DC number. The DC number is an alphanumeric identification code with six characters. This number is unique to each inmate.

To streamline searches, inquirers can search the database by an inmate's alias. The search results will include:

  • The inmate's full name and aliases
  • Physical description
  • Current location
  • Custody status
  • Expected release date
  • Photograph
  • Admittance date
  • Facility information
  • Identifying marks
  • Release date
  • Criminal history
  • Court history

How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Florida

Individuals can utilize web applications provided within the Florida Department of Corrections' Corrections Offender Network to find the custody status of Florida inmates.

Specifically, the Inmate Release Information Search tool can provide data on people who have been released or are due to be released. The database is updated regularly to guarantee that only up-to-date information reaches the public. Inquirers can search the system with a person's first and last name, DC number, and known alias.

Note that the searchable database only contains information about people sentenced to state prisons. If the subject of the search were incarcerated in county jail, no data would appear during the search. In those cases, the interested party can request information from the jail administration or local sheriff's office.

How Long Do Florida Arrest Records Stay on File?

When an arrest is made and documented in Florida, the record is kept on file indefinitely unless the court expunges it.

Even when a record is automatically sealed by law or sealed upon the petition of the record holder, it will remain on file forever. The only difference is that the public will be unable to view or copy the record. An example of where a record may be automatically sealed by law is when the court clerk submits a qualifying certified disposition to the FDLE via electronic means. This action seals records kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Nevertheless, arrest information may not surface in standard background checks unless the inquirer obtains a comprehensive criminal report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?

Sheriff's offices and police departments are in charge of creating and maintaining arrest records in Florida. These records allow law enforcement authorities to track incidents involving police interaction with civilians, particularly when the civilians are held for alleged violations of the state's criminal statutes. Essentially, arrest records detail the arrestee's information, the arrest event, and subsequent booking procedure.

On the other hand, arrest warrants in Florida are court orders that allow for the arrest, detention, and interrogation of people within the state's jurisdiction. A judge or magistrate issues this warrant to state law enforcement agencies after a hearing. The hearing is conducted to demonstrate probable cause (i.e., the belief that someone committed a criminal act). Although arrest warrants primarily authorize arrests, the documents may also include the right to search and seize the suspect's property.

Arrest warrants are essential to ensure that people are not arbitrarily detained or their Fourth Amendment rights violated. The warrant also informs the individual being arrested of the allegations filed against them.

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?

When someone is arrested in Florida, the arresting agency documents the incident in an arrest record. The record shows that the individual was taken into police custody, detained, and questioned. It specifies the charges for which the record holder was arrested as well.

On the other hand, criminal records bear the criminal history of perpetrators who violated the state's laws. In addition to data on a person's misdemeanor and felony offenses, the subject's arrest, indictment, and conviction information will be included in a criminal record.

It is vital to note that an arrest record does not have any criminal case information. The record only shows that a person was detained for allegedly committing a crime. On the other hand, a criminal record comprises what happens following an arrest, such as the case outcome and whether the offender's charges were dismissed or not.

How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Florida?

Copies of arrest records cannot be released for free in Florida, but they can be examined at no cost. Usually, the custodial agency will require a small fee to reproduce any arrest record.

Persons who wish to review records for free can either go to the agency's physical location or visit the agency's website to check arrest or booking records. It is worth noting that the latter approach may not return the complete record.

How to Search for a Florida Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service

Other than the Florida law enforcement agencies, third-party search services (also called background check sites) also provide access to public arrest data. This is possible due to Florida's Sunshine Law, which allows such sites to retrieve public information, including arrest records, from government databases.

Users are usually required to provide the record holder's name and state to obtain arrest records through a third-party database. Additional personal information (e.g., the search subject's age) may be necessary to filter results. Note that many sites demand a fee for complete records. In some cases, regular membership is required to obtain the sought-after information.

What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?

Any mistake on a person's arrest record, such as false charges, somebody else's information, or the absence of the disposition, can be harmful to the record holder. It may result in the loss of employment opportunities and denial of state licenses or specific rights.

However, Chapter 943.056 of the Florida Statutes allows people to obtain a copy of their arrest and criminal history record to review it and ensure it is correct. The requester also has the right to contest any information deemed inaccurate or incomplete. The affected person should contact the local arresting agency or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to rectify any inaccuracy. The result is that the mistake will be corrected or the record withdrawn from public view.

Individuals with mistakes in their arrest records, or those who believe their identity was stolen, can ask the FDLE to repair their records by submitting Personal Review applications. A copy of the requester's fingerprints, captured by law enforcement or criminal justice agencies, must be included in the application. Most police departments and sheriff's offices offer fingerprinting services.

The interested party must fill out a Personal Review of Florida Criminal History Record form to begin the correction process. The completed paperwork and fingerprint card must then be mailed to this address:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Post Office Box 1489
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1489
Attn: Criminal History Record Maintenance Section

Individuals with questions about the process can contact the Criminal History Record Maintenance Section at (850) 410-7898 or chrm@fdle.state.fl.us. Unlike criminal record requests, only record holders and their attorneys can request for personal review.

Also, note that applications for personal review are not the same as requests for criminal records. They must not be mixed up. A copy of the criminal history record provided in response to the personal review request does not include any demographic information and cannot be utilized for immigration, employment, licensure, or certification purposes.

How to Expunge Arrest Records in Florida

The State of Florida allows eligible persons to expunge or seal their arrest records. An expungement (also called expunction) directs any criminal justice agency in possession of the record to physically destroy the record. On the other hand, sealing a record means preventing public access to the document.

A sealed record will remain on file with the criminal justice agency. Although many people will not have access to it, the record will be accessible to the subject of the record, the record holder's attorney, and criminal justice authorities. In contrast, an expunged record is not accessible to anyone because the record will be destroyed for the most part. Nevertheless, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will retain a copy of the expunged record.

Sealing and expungement procedures ensure that eligible arrest records are no longer considered public records under Florida law. Hence, government agencies are prohibited from disclosing such records.

In Florida, most arrest records can be expunged if the subject was not found guilty. When the record holder entered a plea of "guilty" or "no contest" and the court withheld adjudication of guilt, the record is only eligible for sealing. (When a court withholds adjudication of guilt, it means that the offender was found guilty of the offense but not convicted.)

Before the court allows the expunction of an arrest record, the petitioner must meet the following requirements:

  • The charges were withdrawn, dismissed, or the person was found not guilty.
  • The applicant has never been convicted in Florida or adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile.
  • The applicant has not received an expungement before.

Following the determination of eligibility, the applicant may proceed as follows.

  1. Prepare an application for a Certificate of Eligibility. (See application form.)
  2. Obtain fingerprints from the police. The prints must be taken on an FDLE-certified fingerprint form.
  3. Obtain a certified copy of the case disposition from the court clerk in the jurisdiction where the record was created.
  4. Send the completed application for a Certificate of Eligibility and the certified case disposition to the local state attorney's office. The office will complete Section B of the application form. The Section B portion of the application demands confirmation from the state that a case has been dismissed, nolle prossed, or withdrawn.
  5. Submit the signed/notarized application form, fingerprints, completed Section B, certified case disposition, and a cashier's check or money order for $75.00 to the FDLE for processing. Processing takes about nine months, but the time frame can vary based on the backlog of applications.

If an application is approved, the FDLE will issue a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal or Expunge. The certificate is required to file a Petition to Seal or Expunge in the presiding court. Also, the petition must follow procedures outlined in the Florida Statutes, Chapter 943. It must also be supported by the original certificate and a declaration of the defendant's eligibility.

At the same time, a proposed order to seal or expunge the applicant's record must be submitted along with the Petition to Seal or Expunge. Then, copies of all filed documents must be served to the state attorney's office and the law enforcement agency involved in the case.

If the state attorney files an objection to the petition, the court will schedule a seal/expunge hearing to determine whether the relief should be granted or denied.

If the petition is approved, the court will issue an order instructing the clerk and criminal justice agencies to seal or expunge the relevant arrest record. Copies of the order will be sent to the defendant and other related departments/agencies.