When a person is taken into police custody because of a criminal act, they are under arrest. The arrest can ensue directly after an alleged crime or after an investigation.
An arrest record, also known as a criminal record, details a person’s criminal history. Arrest records are generally stored on file by law enforcement agencies and other judicial and administrative institutions.
Does Police Custody Mean I Am Arrested?
Police can have you in their custody without actually arresting you. Police custody is typically defined as anytime the police deprive you of your freedom of action or where you know you cannot get up and leave the presence of the police of your free will.
An arrest occurs when:
- You are detained by physical restraint
- You are booked at the police station
- You are placed in handcuffs, or
- You are placed in the back of a locked police car
If the police have you in their custody or have arrested you, they must inform you of your Miranda rights and allow you to exercise them.
Importance of Police Custody
Suppose a suspect is not informed of his Miranda rights while in police custody. Any evidence obtained through police interrogations may be inadmissible in court. For instance, if a suspect is in police custody, and an interrogation happens without the suspect being read Miranda rights, and the defendant confesses to the crime, the confession may be inadmissible in court against the defendant because of the failure of the police to read the suspect their Miranda rights.
What Are Criminal Records?
Criminal records include the history of a person’s background of criminal charges and convictions. Anytime a person is convicted of a crime, the court records this in the individual’s file, which will have a record of all prior convictions. Criminal records are typically public records and can be accessed through the court’s criminal law system or a county recorder’s office.
When Are Criminal Records Checked?
Criminal records are usually checked whenever information is needed regarding a person’s background. This is generally done as a security precaution, as individuals with a criminal record are sometimes not permitted to participate in particular activities.
Criminal records may be checked for:
- Job applications
- Housing applications
- Immigration purposes
- For purposes of an upcoming or pending trial
- Applying for certain forms of aid
- Other objectives, such as purchasing a firearm or applying for a loan
Criminal records involving violent crimes or crimes involving a minor can disqualify a person for many different activities and privileges.
Can Criminal Records be Cleared?
Having a clear criminal record is essential for most individuals. Clearing a criminal record can occasionally be possible for individuals who request it. This procedure, also known as “expungement,” allows the individual’s record to be cleared or sealed as if they never committed any crime.
This is associated with miscellaneous requirements, such as satisfying all sentences and paying fines and a waiting period from the date of the last conviction (5-10 years usually).
What Is Felony Expungement?
Expungement is a legal procedure where an individual’s criminal records are withdrawn from public records and treated as if they no longer exist. This method may be useful if an individual is applying for a job or looking for a place to live. Depending on the person’s location, they may be able to file a petition with the court for a minor crime or a felony to be expunged from their record.
The regulations and requirements for expungement vary significantly from state to state. It is usually easier to expunge or seal minor crimes, such as misdemeanors and juvenile records. Some states authorize the expungement of felony crimes.
An individual may wish to have a crime expunged for several reasons. For instance, some convictions may cause individual problems when obtaining employment, professional licensing, or the right to vote, especially for felony convictions. Even if the individual is acquitted, the arrest and criminal prosecution on their record can cause similar issues.
If a Felony is Expunged, Does that Mean it is Erased?
In most states, a felony that has been expunged is no longer a matter of public record. That means an individual is not required to report the charge or conviction on employment, housing, public benefits, or education applications. Generally, if the potential employer performs a background check, the expunged felony will not appear.
There are, nevertheless, limitations to an expungement. For instance, law enforcement agencies can still view expunged records. Law enforcement and the courts may be entitled to regard expunged charges if they impact sentencing in a later criminal case.
Additionally, many states require potential employees to disclose expunged offenses if they apply for law enforcement, financial services, or work with children. An individual may also have to disclose expunged charges when applying for a professional, legal, medical, or pharmacy license.
Is Expungement the Same as Record Sealing?
No, expungement and record sealing are different. If a criminal record is sealed, it still exists. It just cannot be accessed by employers and other people. Usually, an individual’s juvenile criminal records are sealed once they reach 18. Yet, they may still be accessible via a court order.
Expungement, however, results in the actual criminal charges and arrest files being erased as if they did not happen.
It is essential to note the following about expungement and record sealing:
- Many felonies cannot be expunged;
- The majority of sex offenses are not qualified for record sealing;
- Expungement usually ensues with juvenile offenses or misdemeanors; and
- In some jurisdictions, although records are sealed, the original sealed conviction may still be used to increase the severity of a future sentence.
What Are Arrest Records Used For?
They are used to keep track of a person’s criminal history. They are also used by individuals who are:
- Renting property
- Employing people
- Performing background checks
- Various other uses
What Information is on an Arrest Record?
An arrest record includes personal information, such as the individual’s last known address and age. Also included in a person’s arrest record may be facts about their arrest and personal information such as:
- Criminal charges
- Identifying marks
- Different names used
- Social security number
The arrest record will usually also include information regarding the crime classification. For example, the record may contain whether the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor. Felonies may be associated with statutes of limitations than misdemeanor crimes.
Will My Arrest Record Include Convictions?
In most circumstances, criminal convictions are generally included in arrest records. They may also contain other procedural information such as:
- Whether the individual owes any criminal restitution or fines
- Prior incarcerations, including the amount of time spent incarcerated, as well as the type of facility the person was placed in
- Any instances of pending or upcoming hearings or litigation
- Military service, if applicable – this may relate to other issues such as dishonorable discharge
The exact details and information contained in an arrest record will vary from person to person.
They may also differ by jurisdiction.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer About My Arrest Records?
Arrest records can contain much information and may be difficult to interpret sometimes. If you are trying to delete your records, you should contact a local expungement lawyer to see if you meet the eligibility requirements.
But it’s essential to keep in mind that it is challenging to have your record expunged as specific requirements must be in place before the process can begin. Know your entire criminal history and show any paperwork that might help your cause.