Are Florida Criminal Records Public?
Yes, criminal records are open to everyone. Under Florida Sunshine Laws, members of the public have the right to access the documents unless specifically restricted by statute or court order.
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping-off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government-sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
What is Considered a Criminal Record in Florida?
Florida criminal records are official documents about the criminal activity of persons within the jurisdiction of Florida. These records typically include details of all misdemeanor and felony offenses of the subject as well as Florida arrest data, indictment history, and conviction information. These details are assembled from various county and state-run offices and repositories as well as law enforcement agencies, court, and correctional institutions.
What Shows Up on a Criminal Record in Florida
Anyone who obtains a Florida criminal record can expect to see the following information:
- The personal data of the subject - i.e. their full name and alias, gender birth date, nationality/ethnicity
- A mugshot and a full set of fingerprints
- Details of unique physical attributes
- Misdemeanor and felony offenses
- Arrest history, indictments, convictions, and pending dispositions
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Florida?
Generally, requests for Florida criminal records are sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the central custodian for criminal records in Florida. The record custodian only supports electronic access to criminal records via its Criminal History Record Check website. There, the interested searchers must provide the full name of the person of interest as well as the subject’s birth date or approximate age.
Providing the subject’s race and sex also helps narrow down the search results even further. Next, the portal directs the searcher to pay a $25.00 search fee before processing the request for instant criminal records. The searcher can either print the search results or specify that the system sends it as an email attachment. Meanwhile, persons seeking certified criminal records for official purposes may use the SHIELD portal. The same search fees apply - only this time, it takes several weeks to get search results. Generally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not grant free public criminal records checks, but searchers may petition the agency for a fee waiver.
Are Arrest Records Public in Florida?
Yes, according to the Sunshine Laws, arrest records are public in Florida. Persons who wish to obtain public arrest records must visit the arresting agency. Generally, this is the local police department or the county Sheriff’s Office. Other times, the arrest is a cross-jurisdictional collaboration between several agencies. In such cases, requests for public arrest records will go to the agency that has custody of the arrestee.
Most arresting agencies support electronic methods like phone calls and email to obtain arrest records, but it is best practice to submit the records request in person. Generally, the record custodian will charge a nominal fee that covers the cost of reproducing the arrest record. Still, a requester can obtain completely free arrest records by submitting a fee waiver request.
What is Considered an Arrest Record in Florida?
Florida arrest records are officially recorded documents that feature information regarding a person or persons following their alleged involvement in criminal activity. These records often include details of the suspected crimes as well as the relevant information regarding the data and may include any applicable indictment information. As per Florida’s Miranda Rights, law enforcement agencies are obligated to inform an arrestee that they are being arrested, share the reason for the arrest, notify the arrestee of their right to an attorney, and several other important pieces of information pertinent to the arrestee's rights. However, arrests and arrest records are not considered sufficient proof of criminal activity but only indicate that the subject was detained and questioned regarding a crime. Florida arrest records typically include:
- Details of the alleged criminal offense
- The name of the arresting agency, officer, and holding facility
- The personal information of the arrestee - i.e. full name, birth date, gender e.t.c.
- The place and date of the arrest
- The most current case status
Florida police records include arrest records, but also comprise police reports, police logs, and incident reports.
Florida Arrest Warrants
Active arrest warrants in Florida are court-issued orders authorizing the arrest and detention/interrogation of persons within the jurisdiction of the state. They are typically requested by the District attorney's office for state law enforcement agencies, and they are issued by judges or magistrates. Warrants for arrest in Florida may also authorize the search and/or confiscation of the property of the arrestee. As per Florida state law, arrests can be made without a warrant when a law enforcement officer is a witness to the crime or there is probable cause to believe that a felony has been committed, a restraining order is violated or the arrestee is likely to reoffend.
How Do You Check for Warrants in Florida?
Florida does not have a central database for individuals searching for an arrest warrant. Interested persons may query the DEA Fugitive Search tool or the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System for an active warrant search.
How to Lookup Florida Inmate Records
Florida inmate records are official documents containing prisoner-related information as well as information regarding correctional institutions in the state’s jurisdiction. Like most states, the Florida Department of Corrections maintains an inmate database that is searchable online. Florida jail records often include the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected release date, convicted offense and sometimes photos. The database also lists the inmate’s full name or alias, birthdate, nationality, and gender and may be obtained online or by querying the facility where the prisoner is housed. The database also lists correctional facilities within the state’s jurisdiction as well as their locations, contact information and housing capacity.
How Do I Find Sex Offenders in Florida?
Florida sex offender listings refer to the various public access databases which feature information regarding convicted sex offenders in the state per Megan’s Law. These are primarily managed by various county and city jurisdictions and typically list the full name, addresses, conviction information, and unique identifiers of persons convicted of committing crimes motivated by sexual interests. In addition to local listings, the state has the Florida sex offender registry which is managed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and lists all registered sex offenders regardless of jurisdiction. Whether or not a person is obligated to register on this list is at the discretion of the presiding judge during their trial. A judge may require an offender to be registered if the crime was sexually motivated, even if the crime itself was not a sex crime.
Understanding DUI Laws in Florida
A DUI in Florida is a serious traffic violation wherein a driver chooses to operate their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Per Florida DUI laws, the police may charge an individual with driving under the influence if their normal faculties are visibly impaired by alcohol. The police can also arrest an individual for a DUI, also called drunk driving, if they carry out a field test and find the arrestee’s blood alcohol or breath alcohol level to be at. 08 or above. In Florida, first-time DUI offenders typically pay fines between $500 - $4000, depending on their level of inebriation and whether there are minors in the vehicle. Subsequent offenses typically result in license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and jail time for the offender.
Florida Misdemeanors Laws: Offenses and Penalties
Florida misdemeanor crimes are offenses of mid-severity (after infractions) which are usually punishable by short prison terms to be served in county jail and considered to be less serious than felonies. In the state of Florida, misdemeanor charges are often designed to match the severity of the alleged crime and a misdemeanor may be either first or second degree. While a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida is the most serious of the two and is typically punishable by up to one year in jail, and fines of up to $1,000, a second-degree misdemeanor is usually punishable by no more than 60 days in jail and fines of $500 or less. Some examples of Florida misdemeanor crimes include:
- First Degree Misdemeanors
- Theft of property valued at at least $100 but under $750
- Indecent exposure
- Second Degree Misdemeanors
- Driving on a suspended license
- Simple assault
- First-offense petty theft
- Some forms of prostitution.
Florida Felony Laws: Offenses and Penalties
A felony crime in Florida is the most serious criminal offense of the state which is typically punishable by extended jail sentences and by death in some cases. Mostly, the penalty for a felony offense is left to the discretion of the presiding judge and may be influenced by the criminal history of the offender and the nature of the crime. Generally, sentences are typically meant to match the severity of the crime. Florida’s most serious felonies are capital and life felonies which are usually punishable by life in prison, or by the death penalty. The penalty for other felonies from first through third-degree offenses ranges from 30-year to 5-year jail terms. The list of felonies in Florida includes the following:
- Capital and life felonies: First-degree murder
- First degree felonies: Aggravated battery of a law enforcement agent
- Second-degree felonies: Selling marijuana to a minor
- Third-degree felonies: Theft of an automobile, trespassing (while armed)
What is Florida Parole Information
Parole information includes details on the provisional release of a prisoner who agrees to certain restrictions in exchange for freedom from prison or jail. The Florida Parole Commission offers parole to most prisoners, except in extreme cases such as treason, an impeachment that results in imprisonment, and severe criminal activity. The governor of Florida may issue an executive order to suspend the collection of fines and forfeitures and grant reprieves of up to 60 days.
With the approval of two members of their cabinet, the governor may grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, or remit fines and forfeitures for offenses. In cases of treason, the governor may grant reprieves that last from the adjournment of a regular session of the legislature until the next session. At this session, the legislature may grant the pardon or reprieve, or deny it.
Are Probation Records Public in Florida?
Florida probation records are non-confidential official documents indicating that a convict has been offered probation as an alternative to prison. Probation sentences allow persons convicted of a crime in Florida to serve their sentences out of custody, as long as they follow the rules specified at the beginning of their probation by the presiding judge. The Florida Probation Commission offers probation in proportion to the crime, which means that the length and nature of the probation differ depending on the offense of the convict and/or their criminal histories. Probation sentences may be minimally supervised or intensive. Intensive probation is a form of very strict probation with conditions that emphasize punishment and control of the offender within the community.
Are Florida Juvenile Criminal Records Public?
In Florida, juvenile criminal records are not open to the public. Florida state juvenile criminal records are protected official documents that contain criminal activity committed by children or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not considered to be convicted of a crime like an adult but instead are found to be “adjudicated delinquent”. These criminal records are often mistakenly thought to be erased or expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, but in fact, the record remains unless the person petitions to have it expunged. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.
What are Florida Conviction Records?
Florida conviction records are documents that provide information regarding the persons who have been found guilty following a court hearing and/or criminal charges in a civil, criminal, or military court. These documents typically detail the crime for which the individual has been convicted as well as the personal data of the said person. Details contained in these records include the full name, gender, and date of birth of the subject as well as the sentence they received, the nature of their crime, and other pertinent information involved in the prosecution. Convictions are usually rendered by a jury of peers or a judge in a Florida court of law. However, conviction records exclude any pardons, reversals, or convictions which have been overturned.
History and Accuracy of Florida Criminal Records
Prior to the recent technological developments in record management, all record maintenance processes were primarily undertaken manually. Given the method’s propensity for error, the accuracy of the data of criminal records depends largely on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. Other than eliminating human error, the newly adopted methods of record storage allow for easier access to the records as criminal and arrest data have been centralized and compiled into an organized database. That said, varying management processes are adopted by different jurisdictions depending on their unique needs. As a result, the information provided on StateRecords.org may vary between individuals.
Find Florida Criminal History Record for Free
Per 943.045 of the Florida Statutes, a criminal history record is any non-judicial record maintained by a state criminal justice agency that contains a person's criminal history information. This includes their identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, and indictments.
The public, employers, law enforcement agencies, and other government and non-governmental entities can obtain Florida criminal history records from the state Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FDLE accepts criminal record requests as detailed on its Criminal History Record Check site. However, individuals must pay a $24 fee to acquire each record.
The FDLE does not offer fee waiver options nor grant free criminal record checks to the public. Only criminal justice applicants (for example, a law enforcement or correctional agency) can access such criminal justice information for free.
Are Police Records Public in Florida?
Yes, police records are open to the public in Florida, barring statutory exemptions. A Florida police record is any document created, received, or maintained by a local or state law enforcement agency pertaining to a criminal or non-criminal event that occurred within its jurisdiction. Examples include arrest reports, 911 recordings, crash reports, offense/incident (OI) reports, calls for service, surveillance videos, body camera recordings, traffic citations, police clearance letters, and so on.
Nevertheless, not all police records can be assessed by the public in Florida, as the law (Section 119.071) requires certain information to be withheld from the public. For example:
- Identifying information about confidential sources.
- Surveillance techniques, procedures, or personnel.
- The substance of a confession of an arrested person until the adjudication, dismissal, and other final disposition of the criminal case.
- Records that reveal discriminatory complaints until after due investigation or after becoming the official record of any hearing or court proceeding.
- The identity of a sexual battery or child abuse victim
- Records that reveal the personal assets of a crime victim when unrelated to the crime.
- Identifying information of murder witnesses.
- Criminal intelligence and investigative information obtained by a criminal justice agency before January 25, 1979.
- Information about undercover personnel.
- The home address, telephone number, or photograph of a law enforcement personnel, their spouse, or children.
Per Section 119.10 of the Florida Public Records Law, any law enforcement officer who knowingly discloses exempt or confidential police records to the public is subject to suspension and removal or impeachment. In addition, such an officer commits a first-degree misdemeanor, which attracts a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
How to Obtain Police Records in Florida
In Florida, individuals can usually query the records bureau of law enforcement agencies for police records online, by phone, email, or in person. However, a record seeker must provide information that would make it easier for the staff to find the record. For example, the subject of the record's name or a unique identifying number. The requester must also pay any applicable fees.
Furthermore, eligibility requirements may apply to access a police record, as some records are confidential or exempt from public disclosure but available to an authorized few. For instance, traffic crash reports are confidential to the public. Only the parties involved in the crash and other specific parties with a legitimate claim have access.
Are Police Reports Public Records in Florida?
A police report is an official document created by law enforcement that describes an arrest, non-criminal incident, or crime. It can contain photos taken at the scene of an incident, offense descriptions, witness reports, and victim information.
Per Section 119.105 of the Florida Statutes, police reports are public records unless deemed confidential by law. Hence, interested persons can request copies of nonconfidential police reports from law enforcement agencies.
How to File a Police Report with Florida Law Enforcement
Florida law requires residents to file emergency police reports by calling 911. However, citizens can file non-emergency police reports using the online citizen police report system available on the websites of city police departments and county sheriff's offices.
Online crime reporting allows residents to submit police reports remotely and obtain unofficial copies of their police reports. However, a person's report must meet the following criteria:
- The incident must not be an emergency
- The incident must have occurred within the territory of the law enforcement agency receiving the report.
- The incident did not happen on a state highway like I-95 or the Florida Turnpike
- It must be a delayed incident
- The reporter must have a valid email address and be 18 years or older
- The incident is one of the following:
- Lost property
- Landlord/tenant dispute
- Fraudulent use of a credit card
- Verbal threat
- Traffic crash/hit & run
- Suspicious incident
- Criminal mischief/vandalism
- Harassing phone call
Below are the steps to file a police report in Florida:
- Visit the relevant law enforcement agency's website to search for the online citizen police report system.
- Review criteria for reporting crimes in that jurisdiction before launching the reporting tool.
- Follow the instructions or prompts to file the police report.
- The words "Your report has been submitted" will pop up after submission, and a confirmation mail will be sent to the individual's email address.
Per Section 817.49, filing a false police report in Florida is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by not above one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
Where to Find Free Public Police Records in Florida
Local and state law enforcement agencies in Florida make certain police records available per the state's Public Records Law. Hence, citizens can visit the records section of a law enforcement agency during regular business hours to inspect public police records for free. However, some records may only be released as copies, which attracts a cost for reproduction. For instance, eligible individuals must pay $10 for a traffic crash report.
Another option to find free public police records in Florida is to search online public records databases provided by local police departments and sheriff's offices. Examples of public police records published online for free include:
- Arrest logs: This contains booking information such as an arrestee's full name, mugshot, race, sex, age, charges, and the arresting agency.
- Warrants: This reveals information about a person named as the subject of a warrant. For example, the individual's full name, physical description, last known address, charges, type of warrant, and mugshot.
How to Find Mugshots in Florida
Mugshots are arrest-booking photographs taken by law enforcement officials that show the front, back, and profile view (from shoulders up) of suspects or criminals. Most mugshots are taken when a suspect is brought into the police station.
Under Florida's Freedom of Information Act, mugshots are public records. Hence, the public can obtain mugshots from the online databases of criminal justice agencies online. For example, individuals can find mugshots through the Florida Department of Corrections Offender Search website and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sex Offender Registry. Mugshots that are unavailable online can be obtained in person at local and state law enforcement agencies in Florida.