Once a person has been arrested, they officially have a criminal record on file within the state of Delaware. From there, every offense is documented by law enforcement agencies and updated as the person goes through both the justice and court systems.
As part of the state’s transparent public records, and in accordance with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (DFIA), criminal records can be accessed online through the State of Delaware Courts Judicial Case Database. Delaware has been creating public records since 1905, and as more states move towards the digitization of their records, the state includes records from across all 3 of its counties.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the state of Delaware, criminal records are accessible through an online database and are available to the public. Since Delaware is classified as an open records state, it is possible to access these criminal records. However, it’s important to note that searching criminal records is not free as there are fees associated with searching and viewing records.
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are a multitude of reasons why criminal records would need to be accessed
- Typically, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person. They’re also used in preparation for a visa application, firearms licensing, or to locate people involved in unsolved crimes
- Sometimes, a person may want to view their own files just to see what is on record. It’s quite common for people to request their records to see what is accessible by the general public.
- In some instances, a record might be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What is included in a Delaware criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Delaware criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Delaware criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Delaware arrest record and a Delaware criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Delaware criminal record?
In order to access public records in Delaware, a person must submit a public records request. The request can be sent via mail, email, mail, or by phone to the department maintaining the records.
To find a criminal record in Delaware, a person or agency can conduct an online search through the Delaware State Police, State Bureau of Identification (SBI). Unlike other states that provide more than one option, the SBI provides certified criminal history reports to requestors through fingerprint cards only, not name searches. Through this method, privacy protections are better enforced since a person must grant consent in order for a search to be conducted. No criminal records are provided without a person’s prior knowledge.
A criminal records check is obtained through fingerprints. Photo Identification, such as a valid driver’s license or state identification card from (from any state) must be provided. It is not necessary to have a social security card or a birth certificate.
The state’s records provide information on any criminal act that a person was fingerprinted for. The records won’t provide any crimes that a person wasn’t fingerprinted for, like a traffic violation, for example. There are some records that are not open to the public and they include warrant information, juvenile records, or any sealed records.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Delaware criminal record?
The best way to obtain a physical copy of a Delaware criminal record is to visit the Delaware State Police State Bureau of Identification to request a printed copy of a record. Appointments may be scheduled by calling: 303-239-4208. The results of the completed certified criminal history records will not be returned the same day. The results will be forwarded to the requestor as soon as operationally possible. The fee for a State of Delaware Criminal Background Check is $52.00.
How do I search for Delaware criminal case court records?
Accessing Delaware criminal court case records involves the State of Delaware Courts Judicial Case Database, also known as the Delaware State CourtConnect.
Through this database, it is possible for requesters to:
- Search by name, business name, or case type
- Search for judgments against a person or a business
- Display information and activities
It is advised to input as much information as possible about a case in order to get the best search results. The more information that is provided, the more accurate results received. Partial searches can also be used for last names.
Does Delaware allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
The state of Delaware allows criminal records to be expunged if they fall under certain circumstances. In the majority of cases, if records are expunged, then a person is no longer obligated to disclose that an arrest under Delaware Code § 4376. Once expunged, normally only law enforcement offices who are investigating criminal activity can access any information that has been expunged.
If arrested and charged with a violation or misdemeanor and there are no other convictions on a record, an option for mandatory expungement exists if:
- The charges were dropped
- The case was dismissed
- The crime was acquitted
If the misdemeanor or violation charge does not qualify for mandatory expungement, a petition to the court for discretionary expungement is necessary.
In order to have files expunged in Delaware, the first thing to do is get a copy of the criminal record. Next, request mandatory expungement or file a petition for what is known as discretionary expungement. On the Delaware State Courts website, there is additional information that includes the Petition for Expungement of Criminal Record for an Adult form, as well as instructions for filling out the Petition for Pardon form.
How can I have false information on a Delaware criminal record corrected?
If a person believes their criminal records contain some inconsistent or false information, they can make a request for the information to be changed. In order to start proceedings, the person must mail their criminal record to the Delaware state police. Along with the criminal record in question, the requestor should also provide proof of mistaken identity.
Individuals can search for their own criminal records. In the event that the record comes back with inaccurate information, it can be disputed. To do so, a person can contact the office by phone at their headquarters in Dover at (302) 739-5901. The department will more than likely ask that a formal, written request is made and include what the potential discrepancies are.
A report may have discrepancies or outdated information as well. Some information may contradict itself since different agencies report different pieces of information. If there’s anything incorrect on a Delaware criminal record, it’s important to go through the proper channels to have it corrected.
How long are Delaware criminal records kept on file?
Records in Delaware are updated regularly and the state will not automatically seal or remove any criminal information after any amount of years. If misdemeanors or felonies appear on a record, the only way to have them removed is through expungement via a pardon by the governor.
Any criminal conviction, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, stays on a record indefinitely. The state maintains the records in its database and only removes records if they’re expunged or sealed by a judge. Once pardoned by the governor, it is then possible to petition for discretionary expungement.