Virginia is the 12th most populous and 14th most densely populated state in the US, with an estimated population of 8.54 million people. The state is one of the safest in its region, with a violent crime rate of exactly 2 crimes per 1,000 population in 2018, far lower than the national average.

However, Portsmouth, the most hazardous city in the state, has a violent crime rate roughly four times that of the rest of the state. In terms of arrests, Virginia is in the middle of the pack among US states, with the 25th highest arrest per capita rate in 2018.

What Exactly is a Public Arrest Record?

An arrest record is a report generated by a law enforcement agency following the arrest or capture of a person. It comprises information on the event, the subject’s personal information, and, in certain cases, information about the person’s criminal past.

An arrest record is typically a crucial document in a criminal case, and it may have a big impact on the outcome of the trial. Whether or whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were first arrested, the arrest record may stay on the public record for a long time. This indicates that it is open to the general public.

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What Information Is Contained in a Public Arrest Record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will contain a chronological description of the alleged crime written by the arresting officer, which may include information from first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime.
  • Arrest date and place.
  • Physical description: The detained person’s height, weight, hair color, sex, and race are all listed, as are any distinctive features such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks.
  • Personal information: Includes the arrested person’s name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information, as well as any other names he or she may use.
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • The accused crime’s classification: whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanour.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Details of the police interrogation

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What Are the Different Sorts of Charges That Might Show up on a Person’s Arrest Record?

Charges are often divided into three categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a small breach of the law that is controlled at the state level. Instead of a jail or prison term, an offense is usually punished with a fee or a written warning. Minor traffic offenses, public nuisance crimes, and littering are examples of infractions.
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony and is usually punished by a sentence of less than a year in jail or a period of probation. A misdemeanor conviction is more likely to result in a sentence to a county or local jail than to a federal or state prison. Driving under the influence, most drug usage crimes, and petty theft are examples of misdemeanors.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious sort of crime, usually resulting in a sentence to a state or federal prison for more than one year. Having a felony on one’s record may affect one’s work opportunities and ability to get specialty licenses. Rape, murder, and arson are examples of felonies.

Who Has Access to a Person’s Arrest Records?

Arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public documents in Virginia and may be obtained by anybody who makes a request to a law enforcement agency. They may also show up via a standard background check, as they are in most other states.

Other Virginia public records instances include:

  • Birth and death certificates are examples of vital records.
  • marriage certificates
  • mugshots
  • Court records
  • Voting history
  • Records of property ownership

In Virginia, Where Are Actual Copies of Arrest Records Kept?

The law enforcement entity responsible for the arrest, which is generally a local police department or county sheriff’s office, often keeps arrest records. They might also be maintained in a state government agency’s or circuit court’s archive.

While arrest records may be kept in many places around the state, the Central Criminal Records Exchange is the only recognized repository for criminal records in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Why Can’t I Access An Arrest Record in Virginia?

For a variety of reasons, you may be unable to get an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compels federal agencies to make arrest records and other public data available to the public, records that fall under specified exclusions might be kept.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) contains nine exclusions that allow authorities to conceal material, such as criminal records, from the public. They are as follows:

  1. To safeguard national security, the information is classified.
  2. The material focuses on the agency’s internal policies and procedures.
  3. The dissemination of the material is prohibited by other federal legislation.
  4. Confidential trade secrets, as well as commercial and financial information, are among the items on the list.
  5. The data contains privileged and sensitive communications between the two agencies.
  6. If the information is made public, it might put another person’s privacy in jeopardy.
  7. The information is only available to law enforcement in the case of a court case or an inquiry, and it may disclose a confidential source.
  8. Confidential information concerning financial institution oversight is included in the data.
  9. Geographic information regarding wells is included in the data.

Furthermore, because arrest records are viewed as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s perspective of the occurrence, certain state laws restrict their access.

What is the Difference Between a Criminal Record And An Arrest Record?

A criminal record, as opposed to an arrest record, is a more detailed document that contains information on an individual’s full criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third-party complaints, convictions, and even cases that were dismissed.

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What’s the Difference Between a Criminal Record And A Warrant For Arrest?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that entitles law enforcement to arrest a person suspected of committing a crime or to search and seize the person’s property, whereas an arrest record is a record of an arrest that is only created after the person has been arrested or apprehended.

A judge or magistrate must determine that there is probable cause for an arrest before issuing an arrest warrant. Sworn testimony or an affidavit containing sufficient facts supporting the necessity of an arrest must be used to establish probable cause. An arrest warrant must also name a single person who should be arrested, not a group of people or a general description of a suspect.

How Many People From the United States Have Been Arrested?

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While crime in the United States has consistently decreased over the last few decades, arrests have increased, particularly among younger age groups. Every year, law enforcement conducts around 10 million arrests. The following are some notable arrest statistics in the United States:

  • In 2018, over 10.3 million arrests were made across the country.
  • Males made up 73 percent of those arrested in 2018.
  • The younger an American is, the more likely he or she has been arrested at least once. The percentages of Americans in various age groups who have been arrested are as follows:
    6.4% of Americans were born before 1949.
    Between 1949 and 1958, 10.7% of Americans were born.
    Between 1959 and 1968, 13.8 percent of Americans were born.
    Between 1969 and 1978, 18.7% of Americans were born.
    Between 1979 and 1988, 23% of Americans were born.

Sources: Federal Bureau of InvestigationRAND Corporation

What is the Best Way to Look For Arrest Records in Virginia?

While many states have public access to official internet search tools for doing criminal background checks, getting a criminal record check in Virginia is a little more involved and requires you to have your fingerprints taken on an official fingerprint card.

To receive a Virginia criminal history record check, follow these steps:

  • To get your fingerprints taken on an official fingerprint card, go to the Virginia State Police Headquarters at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike, North Chesterfield, VA 23235 (or any cooperating State Police facility). It costs ten dollars.
  • Fill up your personal information on this website to print an SP-167 request form to mail to the Virginia State Police.
  • Send the SP-167 request form, fingerprint card, and money (if necessary) to:

The State Police of Virginia

27472 P.O. Box

Richmond, VA 23261

Contact the VSP at 804-674-2000 if you have any concerns regarding the procedure.

How can I Use a Background Check Service to Look For a Virginia Arrest Record on the Internet?

Because obtaining actual copies of arrest records might be difficult, looking for them online is one option. For a price, you may use a variety of internet services to search and view Virginia arrest records and other public documents from a variety of government agency databases.

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Despite the fact that customers must pay for an arrest record obtained through an internet service, it is still a simple way to access these records. The offices of government agencies are frequently plagued by inconsistency in service, and the processing of requests to inspect documents takes a long time.

It’s sometimes better to pay a fee to use an online background check service than to wait in line for hours at a government office.

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What Can I do if a Mistake Appears on My Virginia Arrest Record?

If the information on your Virginia arrest record is wrong or incomplete, the Virginia State Police suggests contacting the arresting agency for directions on how to rectify the information.