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Arrest Records in Washington

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Washington has a population of around 7.6 million, making it the 13th most populated and 24th most densely populated state in the nation. The state experiences below-average crime compared to the U.S., overall, earning a 2018 violent crime rate that is about 15% lower than the national rate. 

However, the state’s most dangerous city, Tacoma, has a violent crime rate over twice the national rate. Arrests are even rarer than crime in Washington, as the state recorded the 11th lowest arrest rate in the U.S. in 2018. 

Washington Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • In 2018, 171,466 arrests were made in Washington, as reported by 198 law enforcement agencies across the state. Around 11K of these arrests were made of minors under the age of 18.
  • Driving under the influence was the leading cause of arrest in Washington, resulting in 27,632 arrests. 
  • Ranking 27th among U.S. states, Washington has a much lower rate of sex offenders per capita compared to its neighbor Oregon, which has the highest concentration of sex offenders in the nation. 

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children


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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington?

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. 

The central repository for Washington criminal history information is managed by the Washington State Patrol, Identification and Criminal History Section.

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

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 online for Arrest Records in Washington

Individuals can run a criminal background check on anyone online using the Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) service provided by the Washington State Patrol that is open to the general public.  

Here’s some key information about WATCH:

  • One name-based search costs $11 and can be paid for with a major debit or credit card.
  • Searches are non-refundable
  • The database includes arrest records less than one-year-old, conviction records, and kidnap and sex offender information from Washington state only.   
  • Results will deliver either a candidate list of records, a “NO RECORD FOUND” response, or a “DUPLICATE MATCH” response meaning that there are two candidates with the same exact name. 
  • Certain non-profit organizations are exempt from paying for the service. 

Alternatively, you can order a fingerprint-based criminal background check for $58. Visit this page for participating fingerprint locations. 

How can I search for a Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington arrest record has a mistake?

If your Washington arrest record contains incorrect or incomplete information, follow this process to submit a challenge and have the record corrected:

  1. Highlight the mistake on a copy of a Washington State Patrol Criminal History Records Section RAPsheet.
  2. Download and print a Request for Modification of Record form.
  3. Fill out the form with your personal information and describe the mistake. 
  4. Have your fingerprints taken on the form at a local law enforcement agency.
  5. Mail the form and RAPsheet copy to:

Washington State Patrol Criminal History Records Section

PO Box 42633

Olympia, WA 98504-2633

If you have any questions, contact the Identification and Criminal History Section at (360) 534-2000 Option 5 or [email protected]

Washington Courthouse and Sheriff Information by County

Adams CountyAdams County Courthouse210 W Broadway Ave
Ritzville, WA 99169
509-659-3257Adams County Sheriff2069 WA-26
Othello, WA 99344
Asotin CountyAsotin County Superior Court135 2nd St
Asotin, WA 99402
509-243-2082Asotin County Sheriff127 2nd St
Asotin, WA 99402
Benton CountyBenton County Court House620 Market St
Prosser, WA 99350
509-783-1310Benton County Sheriff46404 Prior Ave
Prosser, WA 99350
Chelan CountyChelan County District Court350 Orondo Ave # 403
Wenatchee, WA 98801
509-667-6600Chelan County Sheriff401 Washington St # 101
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Clallam CountyClallam County Superior Court223 E 4th St # 8
Port Angeles, WA 98362
360-417-2386Clallam County Sheriff223 E 4th St #12
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Clark CountyClark County Superior Court1200 Franklin St
Vancouver, WA 98660
360-397-2292Clark County Sheriff's Office707 W 13th St
Vancouver, WA 98660
Columbia CountyColumbia County District Court341 E Main St Suite 4
Dayton, WA 99328
509-382-4812Columbia County Sheriff's Department341 E Main St #1
Dayton, WA 99328
Cowlitz CountyCowlitz County Court House301 Academy St
Kelso, WA 98626
Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office312 1st Ave S #124
Kelso, WA 98626
Douglas CountyDouglas County District Court100 19th St NW suite c
East Wenatchee, WA 98802
509-884-3536Douglas County Sheriff100 19th St NE
East Wenatchee, WA 98802
Ferry CountyFerry County District Court350 E Delaware Ave #6
Republic, WA 99166
509-775-5225Ferry County Sheriffs Office175 N Jefferson Ave
Republic, WA 99166
Franklin CountyThe Franklin County Courthouse1015 N 5th Ave
Pasco, WA 99301
509-545-2131Franklin County Sheriff's Office1016 N 4th Ave
Pasco, WA 99301
Garfield CountyGarfield County District Court789 Main St
Pomeroy, WA 99347
509-843-1002Garfield County Sheriff789 Main St
Pomeroy, WA 99347
Grant CountyGrant County District Court35 C St NW
Ephrata, WA 98823
509-754-2011Grant County Sheriff's Office35 C St NW
Ephrata, WA 98823
Grays Harbor CountyGrays Harbor District Court102 W Broadway Ave
Montesano, WA 98563
360-249-3441Grays Harbor County Sheriff100 W Broadway Ave #3
Montesano, WA 98563
Island CountyIsland County Superior Court101 6th St NE
Coupeville, WA 98239
360-679-7361Island County SheriffLaw and Justice Building, 2nd Floor 101 NE 6th
Coupeville, WA 98239
Jefferson CountyJefferson County, WA Courthouse1820 Jefferson St
Port Townsend, WA 98368
360-385-9135Jefferson County Sheriff81 Elkins Rd
Port Hadlock, WA 98339
King CountyKing County District Court601 SW 149th St
Burien, WA 98166
206-205-9200King County Sheriff's Office516 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Kitsap CountyKitsap County Superior Court614 Division St Room 210
Port Orchard, WA 98366
360-337-7140Kitsap County Sheriff's Office - Main Office614 Division St
Port Orchard, WA 98366
Kittitas CountyKittitas Court Clerk207 Main St
Kittitas, WA 98934
509-968-0230Kittitas County Sheriff307 West Umptanum Rd
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Klickitat CountyWest Klickitat District CourtPioneer Center, 501 NE Washington St
White Salmon, WA 98672
509-493-1190Klickitat County Sheriff Department440 NE Washington St
White Salmon, WA 98672
Lewis CountyLewis County CourthouseChehalis, WA 98532Lewis County Sheriff Department345 W Main St
Chehalis, WA 98532
Lincoln CountyLincoln County District Court406 Sinclair St
Davenport, WA 99122
509-725-2281Lincoln County Sheriff404 Sinclair St
Davenport, WA 99122
Mason CountyMason Superior Court Clerk419 N 4th St
Shelton, WA 98584
360-427-9670Mason County Sheriff's Office322 N 3rd St
Shelton, WA 98584
Okanogan CountyOkanogan County District Court149 3rd Ave S #306
Okanogan, WA 98840
509-422-7170Okanogan County Sheriff's Office123 5th Ave N # 200
Okanogan, WA 98840
Pacific CountyPacific County Courthouse300 Memorial Dr
South Bend, WA 98586
360-875-9334Pacific County Sheriff300 Memorial Dr
South Bend, WA 98586
Pend Oreille CountyPend Oreille County District Court229 S Garden Ave
Newport, WA 99156
509-447-4110Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Department331 S Garden Ave
Newport, WA 99156
Pierce CountyPierce County District Court930 Tacoma Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-798-7487Pierce County Sheriff930 Tacoma Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98402
San Juan CountySan Juan County District Court350 Court St # 2
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-4017San Juan County Sheriff96 2nd St N
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Skagit CountySkagit County Courthouse700 S 2nd St
Mt Vernon, WA 98273
360-416-1200Skagit County Sheriff600 S 3rd St #100
Mt Vernon, WA 98273
Skamania CountySkamania County District Court240 Vancouver Ave # 35
Stevenson, WA 98648
509-427-3780Skamania County Sheriff200 Vancouver Ave
Stevenson, WA 98648
Snohomish CountySnohomish County District Court3000 Rockefeller Ave
Everett, WA 98201
425-388-3331Snohomish County Sheriff3000 Rockefeller Ave # Ms606 #606
Everett, WA 98201
Spokane CountySpokane County District Court12710 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
509-477-3390Spokane County Sheriff Office14700 E Indiana Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
Stevens CountyStevens County District Court215 S Oak St #213
Colville, WA 99114
509-684-5249Stevens County Sheriff215 S Oak St # 108
Colville, WA 99114
Thurston CountyThurston County Superior Court2000 Lakeridge Dr SW Bldg 3
Olympia, WA 98502
360-786-5560Thurston County Sheriff Office2000 Lakeridge Dr SW building 3
Olympia, WA 98502
Wahkiakum CountyWahkiakum District Court64 Main St
Cathlamet, WA 98612
360-795-3461Wahkiakum County SheriffCathlamet, WA 98612360-795-3911
Walla Walla CountyWalla Walla District Court317 W Rose St
Walla Walla, WA 99362
509-524-2760Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office240 W Alder St #101
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Whatcom CountyWhatcom County Courthouse311 Grand Ave
Bellingham, WA 98225
360-778-5560Whatcom County Sheriff's OfficePublic Safety Building, 311 Grand Ave
Bellingham, WA 98225
Whitman CountyWhitman County District Court325 SE Paradise St
Pullman, WA 99163
509-332-2065Whitman County Sheriff Office411 N Mill St
Colfax, WA 99111
Yakima CountyYakima County District Court128 N 2nd St
Yakima, WA 98901
509-574-1804Yakima County Sheriff's Office1822 S 1st St
Yakima, WA 98903


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 Thanks to public records laws, almost all Washington arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Washington 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