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Alabama Arrest Records

Arrest records or arrest reports in Alabama are official documents created by law enforcement agencies that contain information on individuals that have been taken into custody and interrogated based on suspicion of a criminal act. These arrest records are created upon a person’s arrest, and may come up in background searches.

While arrest records are considered a critical part of Alabama criminal records, it is not concrete proof that a person committed a crime. Rather, it provides information on the arrest of a person suspected of committing a crime, by law enforcement, and it may be vital to the prosecution of the accused person. However, not all arrests lead to a criminal conviction, and in some cases, arrest records may be erased, like where a person has been acquitted or wrongly accused.

Alabama Arrest Statistics

The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC) has the duty to compile and publish yearly statistics on Crime in Alabama. These statistics are gathered from data submitted by local law enforcement agencies to the Uniform Crime Reporting System, which is a source of reliable and uniform crime statistics for the state. The data section of the website contains information on statewide crimes, as submitted by county and local municipalities. According to the report, 104,306 crimes occurred in Alabama, with 22,927 of those crimes being violent.

Alabama recorded a total of 180,987 arrests in 2019 alone. A breakdown of the figure reveals that 176,819 of those arrests were adult arrests and 4,168 juvenile arrests. There were 25,824 Part I Adult arrests in 2019, 1,298 Part I Juvenile arrests, 150,995 Part II Adult arrests, and 2,870 Part II Juvenile arrests.

What is an Arrest Record in Alabama?

The police in Alabama are at liberty to arrest any person caught or suspected of committing an offense stipulated in the Code of Alabama or violating any provision of the code. Such a person may also have to stand trial for the criminal offense. After a law enforcement officer arrests a person for a crime, the officer must prepare a report in the person’s name. In Alabama, this report is called an ‘arrest record,’ and it contains the details of the person’s arrest, booking, and detention. It also stipulates the particular offense committed, and whether it is a misdemeanor or felony.

What is Contained in an Arrest Record?

In Alabama, arrest records are a detailed description of a person’s crime and arrest by a law enforcement officer. As a result, the following information may be found in the record:

  • A physical description of the offender, like race, height, eye, and hair color. It may also contain other distinctive features of the offender, such as a tattoo, scars, or similar marking on the person’s body.
  • The offender’s full name, aliases, and other personal information like the person’s social security number. Other personal details of an offender found in an arrest record are the person’s birthplace, present address, and current job (if any).
  • Booking and arrest information of the offender, such as the booking number, date, and time of booking. Others are the offender’s mugshot, fingerprints, type of arrest, location of the arrest, the arresting agency, bail amount (if applicable), outstanding warrants (if any), and the possible time and manner of release.
  • Information on the offender’s crime. It entails the classification of the crime, whether it is a felony or minor infraction. Then, the report must describe the criminal occurrence, which may depend on witnesses and victims’ statements. Also, the record will provide the criminal charges upon which law enforcement held the individual and the next court date.
  • A description of how the police conducted the interrogation

Are Arrest Records Public in Alabama?

Thanks to the Open Records Law in Alabama, interested persons can request and access criminal records in the state. Most criminal records also include arrest reports for arrests made in Alabama. The agency responsible for managing public criminal records in the state is the Alabama Law Enforcement Criminal Records Department (ALECRD). Persons who want to get criminal history reports in Alabama may apply to the ALECRD in person or via mail. Alternatively, such persons may visit the local police stations to conduct an arrest search and obtain copies of arrest records after paying a small fee.

Who Can Access Arrest Records?

The person named in the arrest record may access the record. Third parties may also view a person’s arrest record, like the person’s employer, an insurance company, or a legal representative. Other interested third parties may be a witness, victim, bail bondsman, or a government agency. While arrest records are public information in Alabama, individuals may be denied access to certain arrest records for several reasons, such as:

  • Where the investigation is still ongoing, arrest records relating to the investigation may be protected from public viewing.
  • If the relevant law enforcement agencies feel that the information on an arrest record may threaten public safety, they may withhold the record.
  • In certain cases, a person may have gotten the record sealed or expunged because the person was innocent or a juvenile at the time. As a result, members of the public cannot access the arrest record because the law regards it as non-existent.
  • Depending on the classification of the crime, the state may make an arrest record only viewable by law enforcement. It arises in certain sex crime arrests.

How Do I Lookup Someone’s Arrest Records in Alabama?

Before looking up another person’s arrest record in Alabama, verify that the law allows such a search. For instance, the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act demands that employers follow some procedures and get the job applicant’s consent before carrying out a criminal history check. The same procedure applies to landlords who want to request background information on a potential tenant. Refusal to comply with legal limitations may lead to serious consequences.

The best place to start an arrest records search is with the Sheriff's office or the local law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest. Individuals may also search for arrest records at any state courts, and if it is a federal crime, at the federal district court that handled the matter. The purpose of this is to determine whether a person has arrests or convictions. To get copies of the record, such a person may have to pay copying fees, certification fees, and authentication fees.

Interested parties may also find arrest records through third-party sites. These sites carry out a sweep of law enforcement databases to find information on a person’s arrest history. To make a third-party search easy, the searcher must have certain information on the offender. This information includes the person’s name or known aliases, a physical description, and current or known locations where the offender has lived. Most of these third-party sites require a small fee to search for someone’s criminal history.

How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Alabama

Alabama laws allow members of the public to access arrest records, but the right is not absolute. In special circumstances, the law may allow only parts of the arrest record to be visible to the public. It is also important to note that under section 12-21-3.1 of the Code of Alabama, law enforcement and investigative records are privileged communications protected from disclosure. Any person or entity that wishes to access restricted arrest records will need a subpoena order. It often arises where the court case is pending and time has passed since the arrest.

A subpoena is a court order that mandates a person to appear in court or produce certain documents. The interested person may fill a Subpoena (Order to Appear) Form to subpoena arrest records in Alabama. Under Rule 45 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, the subpoena must state the name of the court where the matter is pending and command the person directed in it to produce the stated document. The subpoena must also dictate a reasonable time to comply, not less than fifteen days after service, unless the court orders otherwise. The Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff, or another person not related to the matter and at least 19 years old may serve the subpoena. Section 12-21-3.1(D) of the Code of Alabama further provides that the court may only grant a subpoena order where the party seeking one has substantial need for it and is unable to obtain the records by other means.

How to Search for an Inmate in the Alabama Prison System

The Alabama Department of Corrections oversees all correctional facilities in the state. Correctional facilities in Alabama include county jails, state-operated detention centers, camps, and other similar institutions. To find an incarcerated inmate in Alabama, the interested person may visit the Alabama DOC Inmate Search portal. Such a person must also have relevant details of the inmate to facilitate the search. These necessary details include the Alabama Institutional Serial (AIS) code and the inmate’s first or last name.

The AIS number is a six-digit code assigned to every inmate upon incarceration and is the easiest way to find an inmate because the code is unique and will bring out only one inmate record matching the number. An inmate search will also go through with either the first or last name search or a combination of both. Search results will display all inmates with names matching that provided in the required field. The search results only show 50 records at a time.

For easy identification, the site displays a photo (if available), height, weight, description of offense(s), and sentence(s). Once the searcher visits the site, the next step is to input the necessary details in the required field and click ‘Search.’ The screen will then display a result of the inmate search, showing records of inmates that match the search keywords or criteria. It will also show the year of birth, current prison or institution, and inmate’s release date. The searcher may then click on the relevant person’s name to get the full incarceration details.

Inmate searches in Alabama do not include persons sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act. For further inmate-related inquiries, the searcher may mail the DOC at or visit the department at 301 S. Ripley Street P.O. Box 301501 Montgomery, AL 36130-1501. Alternatively, the interested party may call the Central Office Switchboard at (334) 353-3883.

How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Alabama

The DOC inmate search database only provides details on currently incarcerated inmates and does not provide historical data online presently. There is also no central database for former inmates in Alabama. So, any person that wants to find out if someone was in jail in Alabama may have to direct the inquiries to the Sheriff's office or the police department.

How Long Do Alabama Arrest Records Stay on File?

The Code of Alabama does not provide a standard duration for arrest records to stay on file. By general practice, an arrest record stays on a person’s record for a very long time, sometimes forever. State and local government agencies and the United States Department of Justice maintain these arrest records and do not automatically wipe out the records at intervals. The only way to get an arrest off a person’s record is by expunging or sealing the record.

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?

The main difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant is that one comes before the other. An arrest warrant comes first and refers to a document that a judge or magistrate issues to a law enforcement officer, giving the officer authority to arrest a person suspected of committing an offense. The arrest record follows a successful arrest and contains details of the arrest, like the offender’s identity.

Another difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant is that the warrant comes from the court upon the request of a police officer. The judge or magistrate may only issue an arrest warrant where there is a good reason to do so. An arrest record is then generated by the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Generally, an arrest record cannot exist without an arrest warrant.

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?

A criminal record or rap sheet is a detailed document that contains information on all offenses that a person was arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced. It also provides details on offenses for which the person was discharged or acquitted. The criminal record is a thorough analysis of a person’s criminal history, including all arrest warrants issued against the person, third-party complaints, and even dropped charges. An arrest record contains only information on one arrest and is not as detailed as a person’s criminal history record.

It does not say that a person is guilty of a crime, only that the person was a suspect. An arrested person may not be found guilty of the offense during criminal proceedings and may walk free. So, a person can get an arrest record without a criminal history. However, a criminal record follows from an arrest and is created after the court convicts a person.

How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Alabama?

To get arrest records in Alabama at no cost, the interested person may visit a local police station to conduct an arrest search and obtain copies of the arrest records. However, getting arrest records for free is not entirely possible in Alabama. The reason is that the searcher will have to pay for minor expenses like authentication, certification, and copying. Another way to view arrest records for free is through a third-party site that offers free access.

How to Search for a Alabama Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service

The search procedure for arrest records in the Sheriff or law enforcement offices in Alabama may be difficult for a person to do alone. So, the need for an online third-party service may arise as a result. Third-party sites offer search services and source information from different portals without long waiting periods. To begin the search for arrest records in Alabama online, the interested person may input a preferred site in their web browser using a third-party service.

Then, the person must enter certain keywords in the indicated search field. These keywords include the first and last name of the arrest record owner. Most third-party sites charge small fees for one-time access or make provision for monthly plans, to allow individuals open access to search through the records at any time. Certain sites allow individuals to search for free. An interested person will have to pick a preferred option.

What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?

An arrest record contains detailed and accurate information on a person’s arrest, but sometimes this record may contain incorrect information. If such a circumstance arises, the individual may contact the relevant law enforcement agency that made the arrest and issue complaints. However, if the incorrect information shows up on the person’s criminal history report, such a person may first file an ‘Application to Review Alabama Criminal History Record Information’ form or (SBI Form 46, to confirm that there is an error. The purpose of this form is to request the release of all Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) of a person, maintained by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Once the individual confirms that there is incorrect information on the report, such a person may appeal to challenge the record. To do this, the person must fill the challenge form (SBI Form 46 Appendix A) in the review above and mail it alongside all supporting documentation, to ALEA Criminal Records and Identification Unit – P.O. Box 1511 – Montgomery, AL 36102-1511 – ATTN: Record Challenge. The completed application must contain a valid means of identification, like a valid driver’s license, certificate of citizenship, or naturalization. Other documents that will suffice are a valid, unexpired United States Passport and a valid foreign passport with a valid US visa.

The applicant must also attach a $25.00 administrative fee in cashier’s check or money order only, payable to the “Criminal Records & Identification Unit.” Also, the application must contain a classifiable set of fingerprints from an authorized law enforcement agency with an FBI-issued Originating Agency Number (ORI) and a copy of the defective criminal history record. The completed request and all required documentation must then be mailed to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Criminal Records and Identification Unit, ATTN: Record Challenge, P.O. Box 1511, Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1511. The application takes between four to five weeks for the ALEA to process and may sometimes take longer than that. An applicant may contact the ALEA at (334) 353-4340 or 1-(866) 740-4762 for further questions concerning the procedure.

How to Expunge Arrest Records in Alabama

Having an arrest record in Alabama can cause a person embarrassment or loss of opportunities. For a person to be free from these drawbacks, such a person must move to get the record expunged, as it is not an automatic procedure. An expungement is a procedure that leads to the removal of a criminal arrest, charge, and prosecution from a person’s record. After an expungement, the law regards the criminal proceedings as having never occurred.

Alabama passed its expungement law in 2014, allowing for the expungement of criminal charges in some situations, making Alabama the last state to do so. Title 15, Chapter 27 of the Code of Alabama contains the applicable expungement statutes in Alabama. Many misdemeanor and felony charges can now be expunged in Alabama, and in some circumstances where time has passed, the law may allow a criminal expungement. Interested persons may check the Alabama Checklist for Expungement to know which offenses qualify.

To file for an expungement, the individual must present a certified ALEA-issued criminal history record with a record of arrest, disposition of case action. The person applying for the certified criminal history record must do the following:

  • Fill out the request form contained in Section C of the Expungement Kit
  • Present an official set of fingerprints from the ALEA headquarters or a local law enforcement agency
  • Provide a copy of the applicant’s photo ID
  • Pay $25 and $5 for each additional copy

If a person’s criminal records are expunged, the records cannot be used for a non-criminal justice purpose. Only criminal justice agencies may subsequently have access to it. The applicant does not have to reveal the criminal record in employment, credit, or other application types. However, the person must fully disclose to a government regulatory/licensing agency, bank, or other financial institution. For instance, a person applying to be a law enforcement or corrections officer must disclose and present a copy of the expungement to the relevant agency.

Once the court grants an expungement order, the crime will not form part of a public record used for background checks. However, this may not apply to unofficial third-party background check services. To deal with this, the applicant may issue a notice to the service provider that an expungement order has been granted. After receiving the notice, the third-party site may no longer display the record. An expungement order does not also restore a person’s right to carry, receive or transport firearms. Such a person must obtain a Certificate of Pardon with Restoration of Civil and Political Rights from the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to do so.