Everyone is entitled to see a copy of one’s criminal and arrest records. Yet not everyone knows how to get a hold of such records. Before attempting to obtain one’s criminal or arrest record, it is important to understand the difference between each, as they show different things and can turn up in different searches. It is possible for a person to get a copy of one’s record on one’s own. However, it is easier and faster if one hires an attorney to help with the process.
Why Get a Copy of Your Arrest Record?
There are many reasons why a person would want to get a copy of their arrest or criminal records. One such reason is to know exactly what one has been charged and/or convicted of. If it has been many years since one was arrested—especially if the charges were dropped or the person was acquitted—it is possible to forget the specific crimes one was charged with.
Another reason is to prepare oneself to answer questions about any arrests or convictions in a job or housing interview. Having an explanation of the charges and possible convictions can help should relevant questions arise.
A person who is seeking to expunge their criminal or arrest record first needs to know what is on it in order to determine if he/she is even eligible. Having the record will also help in preparing supporting documentation showing that one has been rehabilitated and deserves to have the record cleared. In addition, it is important when filing for an expungement that the petition includes every arrest and conviction on one’s record—any omission can result in a delay of the expungement, as well as increase the chances that a prosecutor objects to the expungement, which in turn diminishes the chances of it being granted.
One final reason is to check for errors. All arrest and criminal records are maintained by human beings, who can make mistakes. Any errors can be cleared up, although it may take some work. Ensuring that there isn’t anything inaccurate on one’s arrest and criminal record is also critical if one is planning to file for expungement.
Arrest Record vs Criminal Record: What is the Difference?
Simply put, an arrest record tracks every time a person is taken into custody by police and charged with a crime. Arrest records are maintained by police, and as such are sometimes referred to as police records. Arrests do not show up in every background check, although they sometimes can. It is generally considered unfair for a person to be judged based on an arrest record alone since can show instances in which a person was charged but not convicted.
By contrast, a criminal record will show only those charges a person was convicted of. Criminal records are maintained by the courts in which the cases are tried.
Steps for Getting a Copy of My Arrest or Criminal Record
There are several ways to get a record of one’s criminal offenses. One is to contact the court where the crime was tried and request a certified disposition of offenses. This must be done in person and will require proper identification. Note that this is not the same as a full criminal record, as it will only show specific offenses that were tried in the court in question. As such, if a person has been tried for crimes in different jurisdictions at different times, he/she will have to make multiple trips.
A copy of one’s complete arrest and criminal records can be requested through the New Jersey State Police. To do so one must fill out a form and provide fingerprints. The entire process will take several weeks. While that may seem like a long time, it is the most reliable way to get accurate records.
Many internet websites and private companies offer to procure a person’s criminal records within hours or days, a lot of them are not fully reliable; mistakes are common, including showing crimes that had already been expunged or including the arrests/convictions of another person with a similar name or social security number.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Obtain My Arrest and Criminal Record?
There are many long-term consequences to a criminal record. It is important to know what is on one’s criminal record and how it may affect one in the future. Hiring an attorney not only ensures one gets a copy in the fastest and most accurate way possible, but it also means having access to a professional who can explain what is on the record, what impact it can have, and what can be done to eliminate or mitigate that impact.
If you or someone you love is concerned about what is or may be on your arrest or criminal record, contact the Rosenblum Law. Our skilled defense and expungement attorneys can help obtain and review your criminal record and determine whether and how you can earn a clean slate. Email the Rosenblum Law or call 888-815-3649 today for a free consultation about your case.