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North Carolina Arrest Records

Persons who violate state laws or disturb public safety can be brought into custody by enforcement officers in North Carolina. An arrest can be executed with or without a warrant, provided there is probable cause that the individual committed a crime or was caught committing one. Upon arrest, the offender is booked and held in custody pending release on bail or arraignment. 

North Carolina arrest records are reports, documents, and logs containing information related to the arrests conducted within the state. They typically disclose information about the arrestee, the arresting agency/agent, and the violation of the law/reason for the arrest. Arrest records in North Carolina are created and maintained by the local law enforcement agencies and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. They are also contained within North Carolina criminal court records and accessible to the public. 

Based on data published on the Uniform Crime Reporting system of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NSBI), the total arrests made in the state in 2022 were 234,411. Arrests for violent crimes were 10,035, with aggravated assaults having the highest number( 7,517). On the other hand, property crime arrests totaled 24,350, with Larceny having 17,218 of the total sum. The number of juvenile arrests in 2022 was 9,585, which had a percentage change of 26% compared to the data posted in 2021. Adults arrested in 2022 were 224,826, with a percentage decrease of -5% as opposed to the 237,250 arrests made in 2021.

Are Arrest Records Public in North Carolina?

Yes. Per the North Carolina Public Records Law, arrest records are typically available for review by interested persons. However, certain arrest records information under the law is confidential and legally exempt. G.S.132-1.1 through 132-1.23 contain the North Carolina Public Records Law exemptions. Consequently, any individual seeking to retrieve arrest records that contain confidential information will need to obtain a court order. 

These exemptions include arrest records containing any of the following:

  • Account numbers, social security numbers, and other personally identifiable information
  • Criminal Investigation and innocence inquiry records
  • Recordings created by law enforcement agencies 
  • Pretrial documents and information 
  • Juvenile information

What is Included in North Carolina Arrest Records?

The following information is typically included in North Carolina arrest records:

  • The offender's personal details: This includes the offender, such as the complete name set, sex, ethnicity, and birth date. 
  • Offender's biological descriptions: weight, height, hair color, race, shape of the nose, and eye color. 
  • Mugshots/photographs of the suspect. 
  • Violation details: The class and degree of offense committed ( either a misdemeanor, felony, or infringement) and the statute broken. 
  • Booking and arrest information: This includes the date, time, and arrest location or site, the booking agency/ officer, and general information about the arrest. It also contains a summary of the events that preceded the arrest and the weapons extracted from the suspect at the point of arrest, if applicable. 
  • The outcome of the arrest: if the offender was detained, charged, or released on bail and the bail/bond amount. 
  • Active warrants, probation, and parole programs to which the offender is a record subject. 

Find Public Arrest Records in North Carolina 

Interested persons can find North Carolina public arrest records in local law enforcement agencies such as the sheriff's office, police department, or courthouses. A public arrest record search can be conducted in person, online, or via mail, depending on the method provided by the record custodian. The process of submitting record requests varies among the different custodial agencies. However, the steps outlined below are usually practical in the search for arrest records:

  1. Find the Record Custodian: The record custodians for arrest records in North Carolina are typically the local enforcement agency that made the arrest, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Public Safety, or a courthouse where a criminal case was decided ( if the arrest led to a conviction). 
  2. Contact the Record Custodian: After determining the record custodian, the next step is to reach out to the agency in charge of the record to ask for their record request processes and verify the availability of the desired record. Usually, these processes are listed on the agency's official website and may not be required if the record is publicly available online.
  3. Submit a Record Request: There are generally three options utilized by record custodians to receive record requests- mail, online, and in-person. Online queries are usually faster, more convenient, and cost-effective. They require the requester to enter vital search criteria into an online search portal to retrieve arrest record information. 

For in-person requests, most agencies may require appointments before the date for the search, while others may allow walk-ins during official hours. The researcher is expected to provide adequate information needed to retrieve the requested record. Fees may apply to obtaining copies of the record and engaging the services of the agency staff in the search.

Mail requests, on the other hand, usually need a completed form either drafted or obtained from the record custodian's website. The duly completed request form is to be submitted alongside a check or money order covering the search fees in an enclosed envelope and then mailed to the agency in charge of the record. Most agencies mandate the mail requester to include a return address and stamp on the envelope before dispatching it. 

Obtaining Sealed Arrest Records

As earlier stated, not all arrest records maintained by local enforcement agencies or other custodial offices are publicly available. A court order will be required to retrieve such records. To subpoena an arrest record in North Carolina, the inquirer must submit a petition to the clerk of court in the county where the arrest was made. The petition is expected to provide adequate information about the desired record, including the arrest date and name of the arrestee. Upon receipt of the petition, the court verifies it and determines if the reasons for requesting the sealed record are of greater good to the public than those that necessitated its restriction. If the petition is granted, the clerk of court prepares the subpoena and serves the record custodian, mandating the release of the desired record within a stipulated period and stating the terms regulating access to the record.

How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in North Carolina 

Persons interested in looking up North Carolina arrest records online can utilize official or third-party websites to search. Most record custodians maintain online databases for public access to arrest records. Local enforcement agencies typically have search portals on their official websites to retrieve arrest information or information about persons incarcerated in jail.

For instance, the Wake County Sheriff's Department maintains an online repository for retrieving arrest records. To use the search portal provided by the enforcement agency, the inquirer will need to visit the agency's website and click on the search link, usually found on a navigation bar at the middle of the page or towards the base of the webpage. Search criteria like the subject's name, arrest date, and other arrest details will be required to begin the search.

Similarly, the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction has a website search tool for arrest records and inmate information. Likewise, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety has an Offender Search page. To find offender information on these offender search tools, one must enter a first and last name or provide an inmate ID or State Offender ID if available.

Besides the official sources mentioned above, it is also possible to look up arrest records in North Carolina from third-party or aggregate websites. These aggregators are useful in cases where one is unable to determine the record custodian. It is, however, important to note that the information obtained from these sites may not be accurate or up-to-date as they are not affiliated with the government. 

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in North Carolina 

The retention period of arrest records in North Carolina generally depends on the type of record and the internal policies of the various custodial agencies. Typically, arrests remain part of a person's criminal record indefinitely in North Carolina unless they are expunged. State laws and statutes do not mandate a time frame for the retention of arrest records. However, if the arrest led to a conviction, such a record is sent to the State Bureau of Investigation and held for at least 50 years.

Expunge an Arrest Record in North Carolina 

North Carolina statutes allow an individual to file for expungement or expunction of arrest records if the conditions below are met. 

  • The charges brought against the individual were dismissed, or the person was not found guilty of the offense.
  • If found guilty, a period of five years has elapsed from the time of conviction for misdemeanors and ten years for felonies.
  • The Governor of the State patrons the record subject.
  • The prescribed substance abuse treatment has been fulfilled and the individual has refrained from the use of drugs for a period in cases of substance abuse arrests.
  • There is no active warrant or pending probation/parole attached to the record subject.
  • All court-ordered fines and restitutions have been satisfied.

To file an expungement petition, the petitioner will need to :

  • Visit the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts' website and download the approved expungement form depending on the offense type, age, and conviction status.
  • Fill out the form duly and attach a certified copy of the court order acquitting the individual of the charges or stating the Governor's pardon.
  • Appear before a Notary Public to swear to the contents of the completed form.
  • Mail the necessary documents to the clerk of the courthouse in the county where the case was heard or send to:

North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 2448
Raleigh, NC 27602-2448

  • Pay the expungement filing fee of $175, either by check or money order, if applicable.  

Upon completion of the expungement petition process, the court or AOC will review the petition and decide if the record should be expunged or not. In some cases, the judge may request a court hearing to ascertain if the petitioner has good standing and is qualified for the expungement.

If the petition is granted, the affected law enforcement agencies will be notified and given 30 days to object to the petition. If no objection arises within the stipulated period or the judge dismisses the objections raised, the court then issues an order mandating the record custodian to seal such records and restrict them from public access. The clerk also issues a copy of the expungement order to the petitioner.

The petitioner needs to note that the expungement process is usually tedious and legally challenging. Hence, it may be necessary to employ the services of a legal professional to facilitate the process.

How Do I Find Recent Arrests in North Carolina?

Local police departments and sheriff's offices in North Carolina usually have a daily log of arrests made within their jurisdiction. These arrest logs can be inspected in person at the sheriff's office, online, or via mail requests. For example, the Johnston County Sheriff's Office maintains a webpage for searching for recent arrests by name or date. 

Similarly, the Department of Adult Correction and the Department of Public Safety maintain records of offenders arrested or held in custody within the state. These records can be accessed either online or via in-person requests.

Are North Carolina Arrest Records Free?

Yes. North Carolina arrest records can be accessed free of charge from the county sheriff's website or other online platforms provided by record custodians in the state. Nonetheless, in-person and mail requests usually have charges attached to them depending on the magnitude of the record and if copies were produced.

Most third-party websites may also allow users to access limited arrest record information for free on their sites. However, reproducing the records or obtaining more comprehensive reports typically incur costs. Accessing arrest records for free on third-party websites may not be convenient, as most aggregators require a subscription or a one-time fee to utilize their search tools.

North Carolina Arrest Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!