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Arizona Arrest Records

Arizona arrest records are official documents that contain information about the subject’s arrest history and other details surrounding the subject’s arrests, including alleged offenses, arrest dates and times, and personal identifying information. Such records also contain information about questioning by law enforcement officers or detention for violations of state laws. It is important to note that arrest records indicate the subject’s complete criminal history, and are not the same as Arizona criminal records; this is because many arrests do not result in charges or convictions.

The courts and law enforcement agencies keep records of all arrests, regardless of whether such arrests result in criminal charges or convictions. In Arizona, arrest records are public; this means that any interested person may access or request copies of arrest records from designated record custodians such as the courts and law enforcement agencies. Unlike some other states, Arizona does not allow the complete erasure or expungement of arrest records even when such arrests do not result in charges or convictions.

Arizona Arrest Statistics

Arizona’s Department of Public Safety (ADPS) coordinates the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) in the state. The Access and Integrity Unit of the ADPS compiles crime reports based on reports and statistics obtained from all the law enforcement agencies in the state. In Arizona’s state-wide crime reports, the arrest statistics indicate only the number of arrests and not the number of offenders arrested. This means that the arrest statistics may include four different arrests for one person. Additionally, arrest statistics are not indicative of an offender’s number of charges.

The Crime in Arizona report records arrest data for two categories of offenses, namely Part I and Part II offenses. Part I offenses include offenses such as:

  • Rape
  • Criminal homicide
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated assault
  • Robbery
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Larceny theft
  • Human trafficking, including involuntary servitude and commercial sex acts

Part II offenses include forgery, gambling, drug abuse violations, fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting, vandalism, sex offenses, driving under the influence, vagrancy, drunkenness, and all other offenses.

Arizona law enforcement agents reported a total of 237,392 arrests in 2019. Part I offense arrests were 44,223 (18.6%), while arrests for Part II offenses were 193,169 (81.4%). Of the total number of arrests, 90.9% were adult arrests, while juvenile arrests were only 9.1%. The highest number of arrests were made for driving under the influence (17,869), simple assaults (26,344), larceny-theft (24,955), vandalism (10,402), marijuana possession (11,661), and all other offenses except traffic (74,386).

What is an Arrest Record in Arizona?

In Arizona, law enforcement agents arrest persons found or suspected to violate the state’s criminal code. Upon arrest, law enforcement agents create a report of the arrest, which describes details of the alleged offense, including the class of offense, whether it is a felony, misdemeanor, or minor offense. Arrest records also contain information about the arrested party’s questioning, detention, and other details. This report is known as an arrest record. Arizona arrest records are part of the subject’s criminal history and often appear in any background checks conducted on the record subject.

It is important to note that arrest records are only proof of detention or questioning and do not indicate admission or culpabilities to any offenses. Some arrests do not result in convictions or charges. Apart from the courts, another agency tasked with maintaining arrest records in the state is the Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS). The ADPS’ Criminal History Records Section is the state’s central record repository and provides copies to authorized parties on request.

What is Contained in an Arrest Record?

As has been established, arrest records contain details of the subject’s arrest. The following information can typically be found in an arrest record:

  • Identifying information such as names, aliases, gender, date of birth, address, and occupation
  • Physical descriptors, including height, eye color, weight, hair color, race, marks, and tattoos
  • Booking information, including time and date of the arrest, name of the booking officer, local booking facility, booking number, mugshots or photographs, fingerprints, bail amount and type, and any outstanding warrants.
  • Offense classification (felony, misdemeanor, or minor offense) and details of events leading up to the arrest, including victim reports and witness statements
  • Questioning and detention details

Are Arrest Records Public in Arizona?

As provided by Arizona’s Public Records Law (AZ Rev Stat § 39-121), arrest records are available to the public for inspection. However, Arizona Courts are not subject to the Public Records Laws. Arizona Supreme Court Rule 123 guides public records disclosure in the state. The rule provides that court records, of which arrest records are a part, are generally public. Any member of the public may request arrest records from the appropriate record custodian.

These records form part of the subject’s criminal history record and may be requested from the court where the case was heard, if the arrest results in a charge or conviction, or the Department of Public Safety, the agency designated to maintain such records. Requesting parties must note that information or records that are designated confidential by state statutes are exempted from public access. If an arrest record contains confidential information, the custodian may remove or redact the confidential information. Additionally, some records may be exempted from public access in the interests of the state.

Who Can Access Arrest Records?

According to the state’s Public Records Law and Arizona Supreme Court Rule 123, any interested person may access arrest records from the Department of Public Safety’s public records database. Arrest information is available to record subjects, employers, attorneys, victims, insurance companies, and other law enforcement agencies. In Arizona, only authorized persons may conduct criminal background checks. However, suppose the requestor runs the criminal background check for occupational or employment purposes. In that case, it is important to note that Arizona laws stipulate that felony or misdemeanor convictions are not sufficient bases for occupational license denial.

Juvenile records are only accessible to selected agencies, including criminal justice agencies and their staff. Outside the specified agencies, juvenile records are only available to court-authorized parties on a need-to-know basis. Additionally, state laws require that some records be exempted from public access if access to such records would constitute an unwarranted invasion of the subject’s privacy or a breach of confidentiality. Certain records may also be exempted from public access in the interest of the state.

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

Generally, there are two ways to look up someone’s arrest records in Arizona. The first way is by conducting a public records search with Arizona’s Department of Public Safety. The Public Records Unit of the department processes public records requests. Interested parties must submit requests in writing or online through the Public Services Portal to look up arrest records. Requesting parties may submit records requests in person at the following address:

Arizona Department of Public Safety
Public Service Center
2222 West Encanto Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85009

The department also accepts records requests mailed or faxed to:

Department of Public Safety
Attention PRU MD3240
P.O. Box 6638
Phoenix, AZ 85005-6638
Fax: (602) 223-2945

If the requestor requires the arrest records for commercial purposes, the party must include a statement detailing the commercial uses of the records in the request. Parties who require emails or physical copies of requested arrest records must pay fees set by state laws. The Public Records Unit sends invoices to requestors after collating requested records. To review a requested record, a requesting party may simply visit the Public Records Unit; however, the requesting party must first make an appointment by calling the unit on (602) 223-2345.

Arrest records requests may take up to 30 days to process. The timeline may be longer if the requested records are archived, involve large data amounts, or are used in an active investigation. The other way to look up arrest records in Arizona is through local law enforcement agencies and the courts. Interested parties may visit appropriate county sheriff and local police departments or their websites to find arrest records. Alternatively, requesting parties may contact court clerks or use Arizona’s Public Access Portal to look up arrest records.

Persons seeking to conduct employee background checks search of arrest records as part of employment criteria must contact the Criminal History Records section of the ADPS. This unit only makes requested records available to authorized parties. The requesting party must provide fingerprints in the approved format and provide a reason backed by state statutes for the records request.

How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Arizona

A subpoena is a written order commanding the recipient to carry out an act on a specified date or time. This action could be a court appearance or permitting inspection of certain records. All or parts of some arrest records are exempted from public access by state or federal laws. Arrest records that are exempt from public inspection may need to be subpoenaed if such records are necessary to fulfill an ongoing judicial process.

According to state statutes, an arrest record subpoena must be issued from a superior court in the county where the record is required. The order must state the name of the court, the title of the court action where the arrest record is required, and a command to make the records available. The Superior Court Clerk typically issues a signed but blank subpoena to the requesting party. The requestor must then ensure that the respondent receives notice through service. Persons aged 18 and above who are not case parties may deliver the subpoena and return proof of service. The recipient of an arrest record subpoena does not need to be physically present except the subpoena requires it.

How to Search for an Inmate in the Arizona Prison System

Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry oversee the administration of prisons, jails, and other incarceration facilities in the state. The department also maintains information about persons held in facilities across the state; interested parties may search for inmates by making records requests to the department or, where a case or trial is involved, by visiting the court clerk in the county where the case was filed.

The Department of Corrections offers inmate information online through its Inmate Datasearch portal. The portal allows interested parties to search inmate information using the inmate’s Arizona Department of Corrections Number (ADOC Number) or names. A requesting party must enter the inmate’s ADOC number in the appropriate field to initiate a number search. A name search requires a little more information. Parties interested in conducting name searches must enter the inmate’s last name, first initial, gender, and inmate status.

The number search may return more accurate results as each inmate is assigned a different number. That means it is unlikely for more than one inmate to share the same ADOC number. On the other hand, more than one inmate may have the same name, making it likely for a name search to return a broader range of results.

The Inmate Datasearch portal may not offer detailed information about inmate offenses. Therefore, if a requesting party is interested in viewing details of an inmate’s offense, such a person must visit the Office of the Clerk of Court in the court where the case was filed to review the case files.

Many Arizona counties, cities, and towns have inmate locator tools on their website; Pima County’s Inmate Search tool is an example. Interested parties may visit these websites to search for inmates. Alternatively, requesting parties may visit county sheriff or local police department websites to search for inmates in Arizona. Where online search tools are not available, requesting parties may visit local law enforcement agencies in charge of local jails to inquire about inmates in the system.

Victims of crime who are interested in obtaining inmate information may contact the Office of Victims Services (OVS) within the Department of Corrections to receive up-to-date information about an inmate’s release date.

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

Arizona Department of Corrections Inmate Datasearch tool contains information about active and inactive inmates in the Arizona prison system. To find information about persons who were arrested in the past or who have completed prison sentences, interested parties may conduct searches using the available tool. Requesting parties may need to provide the inmate’s ADOC number or their last mate and first initial, depending on whether the party chooses to conduct a name or number search.

The data search results page returns information about the inmate’s physical description, the facility where the inmate was held, and the inmate’s prison term. The tool also offers the addresses of detention centers. The data search tool does not return inmates’ dates of birth to prevent identity fraud. The Department of Corrections also provides historical information about inmates who served prison terms before 1972. However, users must register to access this information.

How Long Do Arizona Arrest Records Stay on File?

Arrest records generally don’t go away in Arizona; such records may be on file for up to 99 years. Records move from one government agency to another as their use expires. Each agency has different retention schedules, and records may be transferred from one agency to another after the expiry of its retention schedule.

According to AZ Rev Stat § 41-141.12 (3), the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records is authorized to set and modify retention schedules. A retention period is a time within which a record must be retained. The record must be disposed of at the end of each record’s retention period, as keeping records beyond their retention periods may pose legal, financial, investigative, or audit risks to the agency. Suppose a record is needed for an ongoing investigation or other criminal justice procedure. In that case, the record must be retained until the investigation is over, regardless of the set retention period. Historical or permanent records are typically retained permanently.

Juvenile records maintained by the Department of Corrections must be retained for 24 years. Inmate master records, which are cumulative case history records that the department keeps on each inmate, must be retained for 25 years. If the offender was sentenced to six (6) months or less, the retention period is five (5) years. Similarly, the ADOC record retention period for offenders with lifetime supervision or parole is five (5) years. For deceased offenders, the department is obligated to retain records for five (5) years from the date of death. Permanent records are to be transferred to state archives after parole is complete, a notice of death, or 25 years after the subject’s sentence expires.

Arrest records maintained as legal records must be retained for two calendar years after the arrest. Law enforcement records for juvenile offenders may only be retained until the juvenile’s 18th birthday, while adult booking records may be held in law enforcement offices for up to ten (10) years.

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

An arrest record is a document that law enforcement agents prepare after an arrest. It contains information about the subject and events leading up to the arrest. On the other hand, a competent officer such as a judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant before an arrest. The warrant is required for law enforcement officers to carry out their duties without infringing on individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Arrest records typically contain some information about the subject’s criminal history, such as records of past or outstanding arrests. In contrast, arrest warrants include specific instructions for arresting the subject or seizure of their property. Warrants hold no information about the subject’s criminal history.

According to Arizona’s rules of criminal procedure, for a judge or magistrate to issue a warrant, there must be probable cause to suspect that the subject violates state laws. To establish probable cause, requesting law enforcement officers must back up their requests with affidavits, including evidence and any witness testimonies. The judge or magistrate then examines all the evidence to determine whether there is probable cause. If the requesting officer successfully establishes probable cause, the judge or magistrate may issue an arrest warrant. A warrant must include the judge or magistrate’s signature and title, while an arrest record only needs the arresting officer’s name and signature.

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

A criminal record contains the subject’s comprehensive criminal history. It includes information about all arrests, offenses, charges, convictions, sentences, and license suspensions. Only a person who has been charged with or convicted of criminal charges has a criminal record. An arrest is not indicative of guilt. The fact that law enforcement officers arrest a person is not proof that the arrested person broke the law. Police officers and other law enforcement agents often arrest individuals solely on suspicion of criminal behavior. An arrest record only contains a report of a person’s arrest, including the offense for which the person was arrested, the date and time of the arrest, a detailed description of the arrest event or incident, and any witness or victim statements.

Typically, arrest records do not contain information about anything after the arrest, including whether the arrested person was charged or the case outcome. However, if a person is arrested, charged with a crime but found not guilty, the person’s arrest record may indicate that the person was not found guilty of a crime.

On the other hand, criminal history records are typically compilations of information from different law enforcement agencies, including the police department, the Department of Transportation, the courts, and the Department of Corrections. As such, criminal records are much more comprehensive than arrest records.

How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Arizona?

To obtain an arrest record for free in Arizona, interested parties may contact local sheriff’s offices and law enforcement agencies. As provided by the state’s public records act, these agencies must make public records available on request. Another way to obtain arrest records for free is to make records requests from the Clerk of Court in the county where the case was heard if the arrest resulted in a case.

Requesting parties may also access arrest records for free through the state’s Public Access database. While it is free to access arrest records, the court may charge a fee to produce copies. Parties interested in obtaining arrest records for free in Arizona may conduct searches on third-party websites.

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

Due to the volume of requests government agencies receive, it takes time to process public records requests. Parties interested in expediting the process may conduct arrest record searches online using third-party search services. Some third-party websites make arrest record searches available for free, while some charge fees for the service. The costs could be one-time payments, monthly or quarterly subscriptions.

To search third-party websites for Arizona arrest records, interested parties must simply enter the required information in the appropriate field. The required information may include the record subject’s name and booking number or arrest date.

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

If a person’s arrest record contains inaccurate information, the person may obtain a Review and Challenge of Arizona Criminal History form from the Department of Public Safety. Once the form is submitted, the department will review the submission and determine whether corrections are necessary. After review, the department may update records that contain mistakes or inaccurate information.

How to Expunge Arrest Records in Arizona

Arizona does not allow for the expungement, sealing, or erasure of arrest records. Arrests remain on the subject’s record until the subject reaches 99 years of age. Yet, it is possible to set aside convictions. Setting aside a conviction will not erase records of the conviction or arrests connected to the conviction. However, setting aside a conviction restores the record subject’s civil rights. When the court sets aside a person’s conviction, the person’s criminal history reflects the setting aside.