Arrest Records in Florida

Table of Contents

Florida has a population of 21.3 million making it the 3rd most populated and 8th most densely populated state in the country. The state capital is Tallahassee and its largest city is Jacksonville, which has a population of 892K. Florida has 67 counties, the most populated being Miami-Dade County, and the least populated is Liberty County. 

Crime is near the U.S. average in Florida: the state’s 2018 violent crime rate of 3.85 per 1,000 is just slightly higher than the national rate. The state;’s most dangerous city is Lake City, which has a violent crime rate of 12.15 incidents per 1,000 and a property crime rate of 70.43 per 1,000. In 2018, Florida had the 24th highest arrests per capita rate. 

Florida Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • Florida had 715,424 arrests in 2018, as reported by 596 law enforcement agencies. This number includes 48,213 arrests of minors under the age of 18.
  • 34,907 arrests were made for violent crimes in the state, including 712 for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, 1,936 for rape, and 5,761 for robbery. 
  • Drug abuse violations were the leading identified cause of arrest in the state, accounting for 134,142 arrests, followed by ‘Other assaults” which resulted in 80,570 arrests, and larceny-theft with 66,157 arrests.
  • Over 32 thousand were arrested for driving under the influence in Florida and over 10.5 thousand were arrested for violating liquor laws.
  • There are nearly 29,000 registered sex offenders residing in Florida

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, Florida Department of Law Enforcement

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in Florida and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of Florida public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in Florida?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court. 

Officially, Florida’s central repository for criminal history information is the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS).

Why can’t I access an arrest record in Florida?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of the information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans  born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search for Arrest Records in Florida

The FDLE Criminal History Information on the Internet website allows individuals to run a search to run a criminal history search on any person

Name search results will yield any criminal history information the agency has on a person that exists in their directory, including arrest records and conviction records.  

Here is some information on the FDLE criminal history search tool:

  • Each name search costs $25, which includes a $1 credit card processing fee
  • A search yields as many as 5 possible candidates, however, it may also return no matches
  • Requesting the record of any additional candidate costs an additional charge of $25 per record
  • Users can print the results or have them emailed, but they can not be sent through postal mail
  • The results of the search are not certified
  • The search will only yield juvenile criminal history results when the offense committed would be a felony if committed as an adult

A certified Florida criminal history is required in order to challenge an arrest record in the state. For a certified criminal history, contact FDLE Criminal History services at [email protected].

Can I request Florida arrest records through the mail?

The FDLE allows people to request criminal history information by completing the Criminal History Information Request Form and mailing it to:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement 

Criminal History Services

PO Box 1489

Tallahassee, FL 32302

However, requests by mail will be discontinued effective July 1, 2020.

How can I search for a Florida arrest record on the internet using a background check service?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access Florida arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

What can I do if my arrest record has a mistake?

The FLDE allows individuals to challenge any inaccurate or incomplete information on an arrest record. To do this you will need:

The completed form and fingerprint card should be mailed to the following address for review:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement 

Criminal History Services

PO Box 1489

Tallahassee, FL 32302

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the challenge process, call the Criminal History Record Maintenance Section at (850) 410-7898 or email them at [email protected].


 

If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and maybe hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with ArrestRecords.com. Thanks to public records laws, almost all Florida arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Florida marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.

Violent Crime rate 

Property Crime rate 

Murder Crime rate 

Forcible Rape rate 

Robbery rate 

Assault rate 

Burglary rate 

Theft rate 

Motor Vehicle Theft rate