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Why Are Public Arrest Records Online?

November 16, 2016

Public means Public

 

Most people know someone who has been arrested at some point, or, perhaps they have themselves experienced arrest. Often, the arrest was a one-time incident. Unfortunately, no matter what the reason for the arrest or how long ago it occurred, an arrest becomes a matter of public record. This has long been the case, but for many years arrest records were not easily accessible. To find a record, the average member of the public had to go to the courthouse in the county that the arrest occurred and conduct a search. Finding out whether another person had ever been arrested anywhere in the United States would have been a time-consuming and potentially expensive inquiry. Those days are long gone!

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**Records Easily Accessible Online**

Today, it is easy for anyone to run an online search to see whether another person has been arrested anywhere in the United States. The search can be completed in mere minutes. You can blame or thank (depending on your view) two sources for this ease of access: the U.S. government and private companies.

Government Records

Finding public records the “old fashioned” way by going to the place where the record was stored was not only difficult for the searcher, but it was also troublesome for the governmental entity that held the record. The entity had to dedicate employees and other resources to help individuals locate, copy, and process payment for the records. Information technology now allows the government to largely automate that process by transferring the records online and provides users with search, download, and easy payment capabilities.

For these and other reasons, government entities are increasingly publishing their public records, including arrest records, online. Typically, to search government posted records, you still have to go to the individual government’s site and perform the search. This means that researching someone’s arrest record could mean visiting multiple county websites.

Private Companies

Private companies, spotting an opportunity to profit, have stepped in to take over where the government left off, making it even easier to access arrest records. Companies use technology to pull arrest information from multiple government sites and other databases and aggregate that data so that all records can be combed in a single search.

Some of these companies only disclose the arrest records upon payment by an interested individual. Other companies, however, use aggregated data to disseminate individuals’ mug shots and basic arrest information, providing open access through a basic Google, Yahoo, or Bing search. Obviously, the publication of an individual’s mug shot or arrest record is professionally and socially harmful. Erasemugshots.com works to minimize this harm by erasing individuals’ mug shots and arrest records.

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