What is a Criminal Record in Alabama?
Criminal records, also known as a rap sheet, are official documents and information on offenses for which a person was arrested, prosecuted, charged, entered a plea, convicted or sentenced. It also contains information on offenses for which a person was acquitted or discharged. Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and criminal justice departments are generally the custodians of criminal records in Alabama State. Information contained in a criminal record could be minor, such as the name of the offender or more detailed, with information on documents filed in court by the prosecution and the defense.
Information contained in an Alabama criminal court record may differ from one county to the other within the same state. However, criminal records may contain
- First, middle, and last name of the offender
- Offense(s) committed, and law violated
- Physical descriptions such as race, height, eye color, hair color, and so on
- Date of birth
- Pending charges
- Acquitted or dismissed charges
Are Alabama Criminal Records Public?
Yes, according to Alabama’s public records law, members of tHe public have a right to request criminal records in the state. The Alabama Law Enforcement Criminal Records Department (ALECRD) maintains state public criminal records. Individuals that wish to obtain criminal history documents in Alabama may submit applications to the ALECRD in person or by mail.
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Alabama?
Individuals interested in obtaining Alabama criminal records may complete an application to review Alabama criminal history record information and mail it to the ALECRD. The required administrative fee is $25 and applicants must pay using a money order or Cashier’s check made payable to the ALEA Criminal Records and Identification Unit.
What are Alabama Arrest Records?
An Alabama arrest record is part of a report created by law enforcement officers after the apprehension, detention, or questioning of an individual or persons in connection to a criminal investigation, criminal complaint or criminal conduct. An arrest is often the starting point for many offenders whose criminal case and records go through law enforcement, criminal justice system and the correctional system in Alabama State. Although an arrest does not always lead to a criminal charge in Alabama, records of a persons’ arrest may still be accessible to the public unless they meet the requirements for expungement and are able to successfully expunge the arrest records.
Once a person is arrested and their fingerprint is taken, information about their arrest and fingerprint is automatically analyzed, stored and is retrievable through the Automated Fingerprint Identification Services (AFIS) section of the ALEA. Alabama arrest records often provide details on the offense for which the suspect or offender is arrested, charges, name, address, physical description, the fingerprint of the offender and the steps to follow after the arrest, such as appearing in court.
Alabama police records and police reports are different from arrest records, but the terms are often used interchangeably. Police records are reports that track the interactions between law enforcement and citizens, while arrest records have a single record subject and only include arrests.
Are Alabama Arrest Records Public?
Yes, Alabama arrest records are in the public domain, thanks to Alabama’s Open Records Law. Most criminal records from the ALECRD contain arrest records. However, most local police stations and sheriff offices maintain original copies of arrest records.
Interested persons may visit their local police station to perform an arrest search and get copies of arrest records at a cost. While inexpensive, getting free arrest records is impossible as copying fees, certification fees, and authentication fees may apply.
What is an Alabama Arrest Warrant?
An Alabama arrest warrant is a formal document, which arms law enforcement officers with the authority to arrest a person in connection with a crime. Active warrants in Alabama are issued by a judge or a magistrate when law enforcement officers or a complainant can show probable cause under oath that they believe that a person named or against whom the warrant is issued, has committed an offense. Although there is no central portal to perform an Alabama warrant search, interested parties can search for active warrants using the DEA Fugitive Search tool and the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System. To run a local active warrant search, parties can explore local county sheriff's websites.
What are Alabama Inmate Records?
Alabama inmate records are official documents with information on persons incarcerated or formerly in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). The public can perform an Alabama DOC inmate lookup by looking through the ADOC inmate search page. The Alabama inmate search page only provides information on persons currently being incarcerated in any of the facilities under the administration of ADOC and does not include historical data. The search service enables people to find inmates of interest and obtain some feedback on the location of the inmate as well as
- Year of birth
- Status such as release rate, possible parole, life imprisonment, death row
- Offense committed
- Alabama Institutional serial number (AIS)
Information about young persons adjudicated as delinquents is not available on the offender search. Sheriff’s Department in various Counties also maintain information about inmates being held in county jails.
What is the Alabama Sex Offender Registry?
The Alabama sex offender registry is a registry of information released to the public about persons who have been convicted of sexually motivated crimes. Sex offenders are required under Alabama Laws to register and submit to fingerprinting in person every year on their birth month and every 3 months after that. Sex offenders only appear on the registry after a conviction and release on probation or from incarceration on completion of their sentence.
Information submitted by registered sex offenders is then transmitted to the ALEA for verification. ALEA updates the Alabama sex offender registry daily and in real-time once information is transmitted from local law enforcement. Information contained on the registry may include the residence, name, date of birth, physical descriptions of the offender.
What is a DUI in Alabama?
An Alabama DUI is one of the more serious traffic violations in which a person is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Alabama law enforcement are mandated to look out for motor vehicle operators whose driving appears impaired and to subject such individuals to field sobriety tests.
Upon testing, police officers will arrest any private vehicle operator whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08% for drunk driving. In Alabama, the penalties for drunk driving include spending up to a year in prison, paying between $600 and $10000 in fines, and losing their license for 90 days to three years.
What are Misdemeanors in Alabama?
A misdemeanor is a category offense for which the penalty is a maximum of 1-year imprisonment, fine and hard labor. Depending on the severity of the crime, misdemeanors are further classified, with Class A misdemeanors being the most severe with harsher punishments of not more than 1-year imprisonment and a maximum of $6000 in fine. Class B and Class C misdemeanors are less severe with a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 6 and 3 months in custody or $3000 and $500 fines respectively.
Misdemeanors are considered lesser offenses and incarceration terms are usually served in county jails. Records created by authorities relating to the misdemeanor offense and the offender remain in the state repository as part of the criminal background history. A few misdemeanors examples under Alabama laws include:
- Witness tampering
- Resisting arrest
- Public lewdness
- Disorderly conduct
- 3rd-degree assault
- Drug paraphernalia
What are Felonies in Alabama?
A felony offense is a criminal conviction with the highest possible penalty under Alabama laws, which can range from 1 year and a day to a death sentence. Felonies tend to be crimes that result in grave danger and destruction to life and property. Crimes resulting in felony charges under the Alabama State Code were formerly divided into 3 categories, Class A, B, and C. Class D category was added to the law in 2016. Offenses and punishments ascribed to them are also outlined by degrees, First-degree assault, for instance, is a more brutal form of assault and attracts a sterner sentence than 2nd-degree assault.
Alabama law imposes additional prison time if a person convicted of a felony has also been convicted of one more felony in the past. The length of the enhanced penalty depends on the class (A, B, and C) of the prior felony and the number of prior felony convictions on record. Felony examples are not limited to but usually include:
- Human trafficking
- Armed robbery
What is Alabama Parole Information?
Parole records provide the official information about persons who have been granted some freedom outside a correctional facility so they can continue to serve their sentence still under the supervision of correctional officers but within a community, permitted by the Alabama Bureau of Pardon and Paroles Board, also known as the Alabama parole board or the ABPP. The gravity of offense for which an inmate is convicted usually determines if the court would grant the possibility of parole and when the inmate can come up for parole.
The ABPP consists of 3 persons who may or may not approve an inmate for parole. Parole would generally be granted only if the Board is able to determine that the inmate would remain in the society after their release without breaching the welfare of the society or contravening laws. The parolee is required to abide by the conditions of the Alabama pardons and parole. If a parole violation occurs, the individual risks arrest and incarceration.
What are Alabama Probation Records?
Probation records are official documents containing the order of the District or Circuit Court in Alabama granting a person convicted of a crime the opportunity to remain within a community under the supervision of law enforcement officers instead of going to jail or prison. Before the court grants Alabama probation, the Alabama probation office will carry out investigations, based on the recommendation of the court that the offender is put on probation and present its findings to aid the court in its decision.
A person on probation is not entirely free to live their lives as they did before the criminal conviction, they are required to follow the Alabama parole board’s strict rules and regulations as a part of the terms of their probation, failing which they may be arrested without a warrant and brought before the court for possible revocation. The maximum term of probation granted for a felony is 5 years and 2 years for a misdemeanor. The court stipulates the terms of probation, length, and conditions of probation granted which may include:
- Maintaining non-threatening and noncriminal behavior
- Avoiding associating with known criminals or persons with disreputable character
- Following the instructions and orders of a probation officer
- Reporting to a probation officer as scheduled
- Avoiding possession or unlawful use of controlled substances
What are Alabama Juvenile Criminal Records?
Juvenile records contain documents and information pertaining to a person below the age of 18 who has been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court. A child may be adjudicated delinquent if they have committed an offense that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult. The state incarcerates such children in juvenile detention centers in Alabama.
A child adjudicated delinquent for an act that would fall under a Class A felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon, physical force and causing physical harm and injury is classified as a serious juvenile offender and may be sentenced to serve a minimum 1 year in the custody of the Department of Youthful Services. If a child older than 16 years commits a similar offense, they are considered a youthful offender prosecuted as an adult.
Juvenile criminal records are generally confidential under Alabama Laws. The child’s parents, legal guardians, attorney or other persons representing the child may have access to the records, and the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center maintains them. Law enforcement agencies are required to take necessary precautions, or ‘‘safeguards’’ to prevent unauthorized access to juvenile information and records. However, a court may order the disclosure of the records of a juvenile delinquent or release the information in the interest of national security or the child.
Find Alabama Criminal History Record for Free
A criminal history record in Alabama summarizes an individual's interactions with criminal justice agencies. The record contains a listing of an individual's arrests, pleas, convictions, sentences, and offenses for which an individual was discharged or acquitted.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Criminal Records Identification Unit is the central repository for criminal history records checks, also called Alabama criminal background checks. To obtain an Alabama criminal history record, a person must submit an application form with their fingerprints to a local police agency. However, the requester must be eligible to receive the record and pay a $25 fee (by cashier's check or money order) to the ALEA Criminal Records and Identification Unit. ALEA does not disseminate criminal history information for free.
Are Police Records Public in Alabama?
Yes, police records are open to the public in Alabama under the Alabama Open Records Law (Ala. Code § 36-12-40). These records include audio/video recordings, accident reports, crime/incident reports, warrants, arrest logs, investigation reports, officer-involved shooting reports, and other records created or maintained because of law enforcement activities.
However, the open records law exempts certain documents or information from being publicly accessible. Examples include:
- 911 tapes, except by a court order (Ala. Code § 11-98-12)
- Law enforcement investigative reports and related investigative materials (Ala. Code § 12-21-3.1(b)). For example:
- Records of a pending criminal investigation
- Witness information and reports
- Search and arrest warrants unless a warrant has been executed and returned
- Identifying information about crime victims
- Complainant identification on arrest reports
- Records gathered about a crime victim who was also a witness to a crime
- Records carrying the identity of confidential informants
How to Obtain Police Records in Alabama
To obtain a police record in Alabama, an individual can contact or visit the records division of a specific police department. Some departments may also provide mail or online methods to submit these requests. For example, the Daphne Police Department has a public records request portal that individuals can use to request a police record.
Alabama has no set eligibility criteria for obtaining police records. The public can request police records during a law enforcement agency's working hours or via other approved means. However, each requester must provide basic information about the record (e.g., the subject's name), be ready to pay copy fees, and allow a reasonable time for the records unit to find the record. Nevertheless, record seekers will be notified when a record is unavailable.
Are Police Reports Public Record?
A police report carries information about an incident or arrest. This includes witness and victim names, the classification and description of an offense, and other vital facts or circumstances.
Under the Alabama Public Records Law, police reports are open for public viewing and copying. Therefore, individuals can visit the various police departments to access the records.
How to File a Police Report with Alabama Law Enforcement
Alabama citizens can file a police report with law enforcement by going to a nearby police department or calling the station on the designated phone line (usually found on the agency's website).
The public can also report certain non-emergency crimes online using a crime reporting system provided on a police department's website. For instance, individuals can report the following offenses to the Phenix City Police Department:
- Custody order violations
- Harassing phone calls
- Minor vehicle accidents
- Criminal mischief
- Hit and Run
- Identity theft
- Lost property
- Traffic complaints
- Vehicle burglary
However, individuals must be mindful of specific requirements when filing police reports online in Alabama:
- The crime must not be an emergency
- The crime must not be ongoing.
- The crime must happen within the jurisdiction of the police department that will receive the report.
- Before using the online reporting system, individuals may have to turn off pop-off blocking software on their laptops or personal computers.
- The complainant must provide personal information (their name, phone number, and location) and incident details (date and time of the incident/crime, location, and witnesses). This information is required because the incident may be further investigated.
Where to Find Free Public Police Records
Because police records are considered public information in Alabama, members of the public can inspect or copy such records, except when a particular law restricts access or permits redaction.
In many cases, an individual can retrieve police records for free from law enforcement agencies. However, sometimes, a record may require the payment of a fixed sum before it is released. Usually, this is a small fee that covers the costs of reproduction and labor.
Alternatively, an individual can find free public police records in Alabama by checking the websites of law enforcement agencies for a public records database. An example of such a database is an inmate search database where the public can obtain information about an inmate supervised by a police department. Another example is an arrest database, like that provided online by the Madison Police Department. The database carries information about recently arrested persons, including their names, arrest numbers, arrest dates and locations, and charges.
How to Find Mugshots in Alabama
A mugshot is a photograph captured by the police when an individual is arrested and booked for an offense. The picture shows the front and side views of a person's head, neck, and shoulders. Generally, law enforcement uses mugshots to identify offenders.
Mugshots are considered public records in Alabama. For instance, Ala. Code § 36-22-8 mandates each sheriff to maintain a well-bound book describing each person in the county jail and make it available for inspection during office hours. Hence, individuals can source mugshots from sheriff's offices or the local police departments within the state.
It may also be possible to find mugshots online through law enforcement agencies. One example of an Alabama police agency that provides mugshots online is the Birmingham Police Department. Accessing the department's Birmingham Jail Search platform can provide useful information about an inmate (their full names, numbers, housing facilities, custody status, dates of birth, etc.). An inquirer can also find the inmate's mugshot (front and side profiles).