In Georgia, state and municipal law enforcement agencies generate and retain arrest records after a person is arrested. These documents detail the arrest event and include information about the offense and suspect.
It is essential to understand that arrest records are not the same as Georgia criminal records. This is because a person does not have a criminal record unless the individual has been found guilty of a crime. Instead, arrest records carry information about an arrest made on suspicion of illegal activity, and such records may be critical to a person's conviction. The public can search for these records through state and local law enforcement agencies.
Georgia Arrest Statistics
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) compiles crime and arrest statistics from state and local law enforcement agencies through the Uniform Crime Reporting (U.C.R.) Program.
The agency's 2019 U.C.R. report depicts the arrest statistics for index crimes (violent and property crimes) in 2019. According to the report, the state had 30,435 arrests that year. The report shows the profile of arrested persons, which includes their age, gender, and race.
Arrests by age group:
- 16 years and below: 723 arrests for violent crimes and 2, 237 for property crimes.
- 17-21 years: 1,342 arrests for violent crimes and 4,042 for property crimes.
- 22-29 years: 2,057 arrests for violent crimes and 4,911 for property crimes.
- 30-39 years: 2,090 arrests for violent crimes and 5,009 arrests for property crimes.
- 40-49 years: 1,094 arrests for violent crimes and 2,961 arrests for property crimes.
- 50 years and above: 1,009 arrests for violent crimes and 2,600 arrests for property crimes.
Of the 2019 arrest total, 20,396 male suspects and 10,039 female suspects were arrested in the state. Furthermore, 13,344 of those arrested were white, while 17,051 were from other races.
Index crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. These eight crimes gauge the state's crime rates because of their severity and frequency of occurrence. Murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault are violent crimes, while burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are property crimes.
What Is An Arrest Record in Georgia?
When residents violate Georgia's criminal laws, they can be arrested by the police and taken to court to face the charges. Following an arrest, an individual will be taken through a booking process, which creates an official arrest record.
During booking, the arresting agency will record the suspect's personal information, physical description, the offense that caused the arrest, and more. This information makes up the arrest record.
What Is Contained in an Arrest Record?
Georgia arrest records often contain the following details:
- The arrestee's data and physical features. This includes the party's name, date of birth, gender, race, tattoos, height, weight, and scars
- Date, time, and location of the arrest
- The agency that made the arrest
- The name of the officer that made the arrest
- Fingerprints and mugshots
- Vehicle information, if a vehicle was used to commit the crime
- The facility where the arrestee is held
- The type of crime perpetrated, i.e., whether it was a felony or misdemeanor
Are Arrest Records Public In Georgia?
In Georgia, arrest records are available to the public upon request. According to the Georgia Open Records Act, the public has legal access to the information contained in arrest records. People interested in obtaining such records should contact the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Who Can Access Arrest Records?
Arrest records are considered public records in Georgia. As a result, unless parts or all of an arrest record are withheld from public disclosure by law, the subject of the record, an employer, a legal advisor, a victim, a witness, a government agency, a bail bondsman, and other interested third parties can access and review arrest records.
Juvenile arrest records and other arrest records restricted by statute (O.C.G.A. 35-3-37) or court order may only be available to law enforcement agencies.
How Do I Lookup Someone's Arrest Records In Georgia?
Although the common requesters of arrest records are the record holders, Georgia law allows people other than the subjects to obtain public arrest records.
Members of the public can run background checks on someone who has been arrested and charged with a felony in the state through the state's felon search website. Alternatively, the sheriff's office or police department in the county where the arrest occurred can provide public arrest records to interested parties.
Furthermore, arrest records are included in Georgia criminal history reports. However, such reports are only obtainable for an official purpose, e.g., licensing, law enforcement, or employment. An eligible party must have the record holder's consent to acquire a copy of their criminal history record from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. A fee is assessed for each record request.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Georgia
Arrest records are available for public inspection under Georgia's Open Records Act. However, suppose all or part of the record is restricted or exempted from disclosure. In that case, a subpoena will be required to examine or copy the record.
A subpoena is a judicial order for a person or entity to appear in court or provide certain documents. To compel a government entity to produce an arrest record, an individual will require a Subpoena for the Production of Documents, also called a Subpoena Duces Tecum. Georgia's subpoena law is codified at Title 24, Chapter 13 of the Georgia Code.
Generally, to have the court issue a subpoena duces tecum, the interested party must obtain a subpoena form from the court's website. (See civil subpoena and criminal subpoena forms from the Fulton County Superior Court.) Note that every subpoena must be in writing and indicate the action's title. Also, the party seeking the record's production must sign the subpoena and serve it on all parties involved, including the custodian of the requested records.
A subpoena issued in Georgia may be served by any sheriff, sheriff's deputy, or another person who is not below the age of eighteen. It can also be served by registered or certified mail, with the return receipt serving as proof of delivery.
How To Search For An Inmate In The Georgia Prison System
An inmate records search is required to locate inmates in Georgia's prison system. Inmate records contain details about convicted offenders in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC). The GDC makes inmate data available through two online search systems: the Offender Search and Facility Search.
The facility search tool allows the public to find information about a facility and the inmates located in that facility. By clicking on the "search this facility" tab, an individual can look up an inmate with the following:
- The inmate's name or description: last name, first name, gender, race, age, alias, etc.
- The inmate's GDC ID or case number: The GDC ID is a one-of-a-kind number that identifies the individual, whereas the case number identifies the violation.
The same search criteria are used to obtain records from the offender search tool. Unlike the Facility Search tool, whose search results are constrained to a specific GDC facility, the Offender Search tool searches for all inmates supervised by the GDC.
Furthermore, the public can use inmate search tools provided on government websites run at the county level to find local inmates. This service, however, may only be provided in a few counties. For example, Clayton County offers an offender search service that allows interested parties to locate inmates with their last and first names.
When an online inmate search tool is unavailable, the inquirer may contact the jail administration to locate an inmate.
How Do I Find Out If Someone Was In Jail In Georgia
The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) oversees the state's prison system. As a result, anyone looking for information on whether someone was incarcerated in state prison can run a GDC inmate search to view the offender's information and custody status (e.g., incarcerated, released, paroled).
If an offender's information does not appear in search results, it is most likely because the Georgia Department of Corrections no longer supervises the offender. Hence, the inquirer may contact the department for more information. Also, if the offender was held locally, the inquirer may query the local jail that had custody of the inmate.
How Long Do Georgia Arrest Records Stay On File?
In Georgia, when an arrest is not prosecuted or does not result in a conviction, the arrest record will be automatically sealed or removed from a person's public record after a designated period. The period's length is determined by the severity of the charges:
- Misdemeanor charges: two years
- Felony charges: four years
- Violent felony charges and sex-related charges: seven years
However, this programmed restriction may only be temporary. If the prosecutor opts to pursue the case, the record will be reopened until the close of the legal proceeding.
What Is The Difference Between An Arrest Record And An Arrest Warrant?
The fundamental difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant is the legal document's function. The information contained in a Georgia arrest record relates to a person arrested for alleged criminal activity. On the other hand, an arrest warrant is a court order that permits the arrest, detainment, and interrogation of someone within the state's jurisdiction. Essentially, the warrant allows the police to perform a legal arrest without violating an individual's Fourth Amendment rights.
Another distinction between the two records is that an arrest warrant is only issued when there is a strong suspicion that an individual has committed a crime. The warrant, which a judge or magistrate must approve, is frequently obtained by the District Attorney's office for state law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, arrest records are generated by a law enforcement agency after an individual's arrest, despite the severity of the crime.
What Is The Difference Between An Arrest Record And A Criminal Record?
Although arrest records are sometimes referred to as criminal records, they are not the same. Typically, an arrest record details the offense(s) that resulted in a record holder's apprehension. On the other hand, a criminal record summarizes someone's criminal past. This includes the individual's arrests, convictions, parole violations, acquittals, and dismissed charges.
As an arrest record only contains information about a person's arrest, not the case's eventual outcome, it is not conclusive evidence that someone broke the law. In contrast, a criminal record is created when a suspected individual goes through the criminal justice system and is found guilty in a court of law.
How To Obtain Arrest Records For Free In Georgia?
Obtaining copies of complete arrest records from Georgia state and local law enforcement agencies often requires the payment of a small fee. However, one way to access arrest information for free is through the law enforcement agency's website, specifically the county sheriff's website. It is worth noting that reviewing such data online may only return limited arrest information.
How To Search For A Georgia Arrest Record Online Using A Third-Party Search Service
Arrest records are considered public documents in the United States of America. As a result, numerous third-party public records sites provide arrest records on demand. In addition, because the information gathered by third-party aggregator sites is not limited to one locality or region, searches are considerably easier.
When using a third-party website to obtain an arrest record, users must often submit the following information:
- The record holder's name
- The record holder's location (county, city, state)
However, note that third-party sites maintain databases that are not operated by the government. As a result, record availability may vary between sites.
What Can I Do If My Arrest Record Has A Mistake?
When the information on an arrest record is incorrect, it is the responsibility of the agency that created the record to make corrections—and the duty of the record holder to make the agency aware of the error.
To ensure the information on a Georgia arrest record is correct, the record holder may first obtain a copy of their record for a small fee. Upon finding inaccurate information, the record holder may ask the arresting agency to remove the error. If the arresting agency's data is determined to be incorrect, the agency will amend the arrest and identity information using the web-based Computerized Criminal History (CCH) User Interface.
Specifically, owners of arrest records who discover mistakes can follow these steps:
- Verify that the information is incorrect by acquiring a copy of the arrest record from the arresting agency and comparing the information to the record holder's criminal history record.
- The individual must then submit the arrest record, a copy of their criminal history record, and a written request with the error highlighted to the arresting agency.
The arresting agency has 60 days to investigate and, if appropriate, correct the record. If the arresting agency does not act within 60 days, the record holder must file an appeal in the court that handled the case. Then, the individual must send a copy of the appeal to the agency and the prosecutor on the case by certified mail. If the court determines the record is inaccurate or incomplete, the court will order the record corrected within 60 days.
It is worth noting that the Georgia Crime Information Center's criminal records department cannot correct an arrest record without acceptable evidence or authorization from the agency that submitted the incorrect information. For more information, parties can contact the GCIC at _(404) 244-2639_or email@example.com.
Furthermore, when another individual uses a record holder's identifying information at the time of their arrest, a more extensive process may be required. The subject of the record may need to complete a record inspection with GCIC, which will compare their fingerprints to the fingerprints on file.
Suppose GCIC confirms the information on the record is incorrect and that someone falsely used the record holder's identity at the time of the arrest. In that case, the record holder will be issued a certificate indicating that their fingerprints do not match the arrest records. Then, this certificate must be taken to the arresting agency. The record holder must request that their personal identifying information be deleted from the other person's criminal history record. In this way, the arrest will no longer appear on a person's criminal background check.
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Georgia
An expungement in Georgia means the restriction of criminal records created or maintained by state agencies. A Georgia expungement order does not physically destroy criminal records. It only keeps people from accessing the records unless for law enforcement and criminal justice purposes. The expungement process is referred to as "record restriction."
In general, arrest records may only be expunged in Georgia if:
- The record holder has no pending charges.
- The record holder has not been convicted of the same or a similar offense within the last 5 years.
Still, Georgia law only allows the restriction of arrest records in the following situations:
- The record-holder was arrested but released without the offense being referred for prosecution, or
- The prosecuting attorney dismissed the charges without seeking an indictment or filing an accusation.
- An indictment or accusation was filed, but the charges were "nolle prossed," dead docketed, or dismissed.
- The record-holder was a youthful offender under the age of 21 when the arrest record was generated.
The process for restriction/expungement depends on when the individual was arrested and how the case was resolved. Some arrests are expunged automatically after a certain period if no prosecution occured. However, suppose an individual was arrested before July 1, 2013, and the party was not indicted or accused; furthermore, the case was dismissed (and no other exceptions apply). In that case, the record holder must apply for restriction through the arresting agency and pay any required fee.
Meanwhile, if the arrest occurred after July 1, 2013, the record would be restricted once the court clerk or prosecutor enters the appropriate disposition into the Georgia Crime Information Center's database. This process does not require the record holder to apply for a restriction or pay a fee.