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Watauga County Arrest Records

Watauga County arrest records refer to official documents created by law enforcement to detail information on the arrests of persons within the county. Such files are a key part of Watauga County Court Records and a basis for a just and sustainable county criminal justice and judiciary system.

Watauga County arrest warrants are official documents that grant law enforcement personnel the power to find individuals suspected of committing a crime and arrest them. Judges or magistrates

In Watauga County, an arrest warrant is typically issued when reasonable grounds exist. Before the judge issues an arrest warrant, law enforcement agents must have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime and that the person receiving the arrest warrant committed the crime.

Watauga County police personnel usually detain arrestees at the County Detention Center under the supervision of the Sheriff's Office. Arrests and bookings may occur at a precinct near the offender's arrest and entail taking the suspect's personal information and details related to the charge. Subsequently, the courts will release the suspect on bail or remand them in custody until arraignment.

Are Arrest Records Public in Watauga County?

Yes. The North Carolina Public Records Act (PRA) protects Watauga County residents' access rights and the general public to view, inspect, and copy materials—including electronic documents or otherwise—generated or received by state and local government agencies while conducting public business.

Regardless of the broad range of access the Act provides, it limits access to certain records in the interest of a fair and just criminal justice and judiciary system. Consequently, arrest records that are excluded from public disclosure include:

  • Personnel records of public employees
  • Criminal investigation records — records generated during the investigation of an alleged offense.
  • Legal materials, such as conversations between an attorney and a public body
  • Social Security numbers and other personal financial information
  • Records involving public safety, like specific details of security plans and detailed plans of public buildings and infrastructure
  • Telephone numbers stored by 911 systems

What Do Public Arrest Records Contain?

Under the PRA, Watauga County arrest records available to the public include:

  • Information about the person arrested or charged
  • The circumstances of arrests
  • Content of 911 calls (The agency may provide such records with altered voice or transcribed to protect the caller’s identity)
  • Radio conversation between law enforcement personnel
  • Information about victims and complainants that do not identify them or compromise their safety or privacy

Watauga County Crime Rate

According to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office reported 28 violent crime incidents in 2022 and 13 the previous year. This translates to a 53.57% decrease between 2021 and 2022. On the other hand, total property crimes remained constant, with 211 incidents recorded in 2021 and 2022.

A breakdown of the violent crime incidents in 2022 showed that aggravated assault constituted more than half (69.23%) of all reported violent offenses. Other significant violent crime types were rape (2 incidents), robbery (1 incident), and homicide (1 incident), constituting 15.38%, 7.69%, and 7.69%, respectively.

The NIBRS statistics also revealed that larceny-theft (137 incidents) was the most common property crime. Others include burglary (50 incidents), motor vehicle theft (20 incidents), and arson (20 incidents), with 23.70%, 9.48%, and 1.90%, respectively.

Watauga County Arrest Statistics

The 2022 National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) statistics from the County Sheriff’s Office reported that 542 (82.93%) individuals were arrested for various types of offenses aside from traffic violations. Next to this were 52 (7.94%) persons arrested for drug abuse violations and 20 (3.05%) for driving under the influence. Inmates detained in the same year for simple assault (19), burglary (14), and motor vehicle theft (3) constituted 2.90%, 2.14%, and 0.46%, respectively. The Sheriff’s Office also reported that county deputies arrested two (0.31%) persons for illegal possession of weapons. In comparison, law enforcement personnel made one arrest (0.15%) each for disorderly conduct, stolen property possession, and vandalism.

Further analysis of the gender distribution of inmates showed that male inmates (499) constituted 76.18% while female inmates (156) made up 23.82%. Additionally, a breakdown of the racial composition revealed that white inmates (91.91%) were the predominant racial group in the jail facility. Next were Black/African American inmates (40) and Asians (3), who constituted 6.11% and 0.46%, respectively.

Find Watauga County Arrest Records

At the state level, requesters looking for arrest records can use the Offender Locator. The Offender Public Information Search tool allows visitors to search by name or offender ID for current data on North Carolina state prison offenders, probationers, and parolees. Although the database lacks county jail information, it does offer unique search tools for escapees, absconders, and inmate releases and extensive datasets for statistical analysis.

Alternatively, inquirers looking for arrest records at the state level may visit the North Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) at 214 West Jones St. Raleigh, send a mail to 5201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-5201, or call (919) 733-2126.

Requesters searching for customized statistical reports on North Carolina inmates may use the Automated System Query (ASQ) tool from the Analysis, Programming and Policy Section of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. The public offender search tool queries the same Department of Corrections database as this utility. The distinction is that this utility enables users to generate customized reports that are tailored to their preferred criteria. ASQ provides demographic and count data on detainees, but it does not provide information on specific offender profiles.

Free Arrest Record Search in Watauga County

Requesters of free Watauga County arrest records may wish to conduct their searches on third-party public record databases. These web-based companies typically have experience delivering public records to customers online and collect public information from various official sources, including law enforcement agencies. Even though visitors can conduct simple searches at no charge, they usually have to pay for an extensive report on a subject of interest.

Get Watauga County Criminal Records

A criminal history record is a comprehensive report on a person’s relationship with the criminal justice system. This comprises contact with the police, other law enforcement personnel, and the courts and may contain arrests, detentions, judgments, and more.

The general public and eligible agencies can conduct criminal background checks in Watauga County through the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the state's primary database for criminal information. Therefore, requesters seeking a personal background checkcheck for employment/licensing, or background check on other individuals should critically review SBI portal-based information on specific request types. This process is imperative because each type of background check has its scope, rules, and processes.

Requesters should note that undertaking a fingerprint-based North Carolina criminal history background check attracts a $14 processing fee. For more details on the process of acquiring a criminal history report, applicants should contact the SBI’s Customer Service Unit at:

CIIS - Customer Service Unit
NC State Bureau of Investigation
3320 Garner Road
P.O. Box 29500
Raleigh, NC 27626-0500
(919) 582-8660
(919) 661-5977 (Fax)

Alternatively, interested persons may apply for a certified criminal record search by name themself or others in Watauga County through the clerk of superior court office at the courthouse. However, this search only checks the Watauga County court records. It is not a statewide record search.

In order to start the process, the applicant must complete and print Form AOC-CR-314 and submit it to the clerk's office, along with a $25 fee. Mail service applicants must pay using money orders or certified checks, while in-person requesters can use credit cards, cash, money orders, or certified checks.

Watauga County Arrest Records Vs. Criminal Records

Although "arrest records" and "criminal records" are often used interchangeably, they differ. Highlighted below are some of the features that distinguish the two types of records:

An arrest record is a local document maintained by the police agency responsible for making the arrest. It concentrates exclusively on the specific arrest incident and typically includes the date, time, place, and justification for the arrest. It also provides information about the arrested person, including their name, age, and any charges filed against them. A noteworthy feature of arrest records is that they do not dig into the subsequent legal proceedings or outcomes.

Conversely, a criminal history record offers an extensive overview of an individual's relationship with the criminal justice system. The report goes beyond the arrest and covers the journey from arrest to conviction. A criminal history record includes the details of all arrests, charges, court proceedings, and court dispositions (whether the individual was found guilty, acquitted, or had charges dropped). It may also include sentencing information (if convicted).

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

Arrest records will remain on a person's record forever. The only way to restrict the category of persons or agencies that can access one's record is to have the record sealed or expunged. The US Department of Justice, states, and local enforcement agencies maintain arrest records and rap sheets. These records do not get purged automatically at the different levels of criminal justice enforcement.

Expunge Watauga County Arrest Records

Expunction—also known as expungement—legally erases a criminal charge or conviction from an individual’s record. In Watauga County, this means sealing or destroying the state’s arrest, charge, and conviction records. Once granted, it’s as if the offense never occurred, although it does not always protect against all consequences, such as federal immigration decisions.

Although “expunction” and “expungement” are used interchangeably in North Carolina’s laws, they both refer to the same legal remedy.

Eligibility for expunction in North Carolina varies based on the offense and the individual’s circumstances. Eligible individuals include:

  • Persons with misdemeanor convictions.
  • Persons charged with gang offenses.
  • Individuals with drug offenses dismissed after conditional discharge.
  • Individuals with toxic vapors offenses dismissed after conditional discharge.
  • Persons under 18 or 21 at the time of a nonviolent felony.
  • Victims of identity theft where charges were dismissed.

To start the expunction process for eligible offenses, applicants should review the instruction sheet for individual petitions on the SBI’s website.

Watauga County Arrest Warrants

Watauga County arrest warrants are legal orders that give the police and other law enforcement agents the power to look for an individual and arrest them wherever and whenever they are found.

A judge or magistrate often issues an arrest warrant if there are reasonable grounds, otherwise known as probable cause. Law enforcement agents must have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime and that the specific person to receive the arrest warrant committed the crime. A government official or citizen must stand before a judge and give evidence of certain facts under oath that allege that someone has committed a crime. A Watauga arrest warrant must expressly identify the person the police want to arrest, and a neutral party must conduct the arrest.

Watauga County Arrest Warrant Search

Requesters searching for active arrest warrants in Watauga County can visit the County Sheriff's Office or any other major police department and precinct in the county for information. However, there are better options for someone seeking to conduct the search themself. Instead of risking an arrest if they discover an active arrest warrant on their person, they can discreetly search through online warrant records databases. These third-party databases offer access to local and recent arrest records.

The North Carolina Department of Corrections lists wanted persons on its website for requesters looking for escaped inmates.

Do Watauga County Arrest Warrants Expire?

No. Once issued by a judge, a Watauga County arrest warrant remains active until the subject appears in court or dies. Suppose a person has an arrest warrant against them that has been intentionally or inadvertently avoided for over two decades. A traffic stop for a busted tail light or overspeeding could land such an individual in police custody for that outstanding warrant.

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