Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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How to Order Criminal Records

Posted by Writing PIs on April 13, 2011

Three tips for how to order criminal records.

Tip #1. Check your local police department website. Many departments offer means for people to order offense reports–at minimum, a person’s name and offense date are typically required. If there is no online order form, call the police station and inquire how to order offense reports. There is typically a $6 to $10 dollar fee.

Tip #2. Order your FBI criminal records. Called an “FBI Identification Record”–the FBI only provides these arrest records to the subject of those records (you must provide an ID, a written request and an $18 payment by certified check or money order). They show arrest charges, dates, and dispositions. Go to FBI Identification Record Request.

Tip #3. Go to county courthouses. The most relevant, current criminal records are maintained in the county courts where the person resided, worked or attended school. Obviously, you know which counties you’ve lived in, but if you’re wanting the criminal records for someone else, you’ll need to know which counties are in their residential/work history. Ask the court clerk their procedures for obtaining criminal records, which typically include a search fee and copying costs.

Note: Don’t fall for those online ads that promise “nationwide criminal records” for $19.95 (or whatever they charge). Sorry, but there’s no such thing as a national repository of criminal records. See Tip #3, above.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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