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North Carolina Arrest Records

North Carolina Arrest Records are official papers that provide information about a person's arrest history within the state.

Not all arrests result in a conviction, and having an arrest record on someone does not necessarily mean that a specific individual was ever found guilty of a crime. However, an arrest record can still negatively affect a person's reputation and future opportunities.

The exact information in the records may vary depending on the specific case and the agency that created the document. Still, some common types of information that you can find in a North Carolina Arrest Record include:

  • The individual's personal information like the full name, gender, birth date, race, and physical description, such as height, weight, and hair and eye color
  • Booking information such as the arrest date and time, the arresting agency, the arrest location, and the reason for the arrest
  • The individual's photograph (mugshot) taken at the moment of arrest and a record of the person's fingerprints
  • The individual's charges and their outcomes, such as whether they were dropped, dismissed, or resulted in a conviction
  • The amount of bail or bond set for the individual's release and any conditions attached to the release
  • Court information such as the name of the court handling the case, the case number, the date of the court appearance, and the outcome of the court proceeding

In North Carolina, the public has the right to access arrest records per Chapter 132 of the North Carolina General Statutes and the North Carolina Public Records Law.

Under these laws, most records made or received by a public agency in its official business are public records. Therefore, anyone can look at and make copies of these records unless specifically exempted by law.

What Laws Govern Arrests in North Carolina?

Chapter 15A, Article 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes governs the arrest in this state.

In this law, an officer must have probable cause to make an arrest. It means they must have a reasonable ground to believe that the individual they are detaining committed a crime.

In most cases, officers in North Carolina must have a warrant to make an arrest. Exceptions include when the officer witnesses the committed crime or has probable cause to think the subject has committed a felony, specific misdemeanor, or pretrial release order violation.

Officers in North Carolina may use force to make an arrest, but only when it is necessary to do so. The force must be reasonable, and officers may not use it excessively.

An officer carrying a warrant may arrest the individual identified or described therein at any time and place within the officer's jurisdictional authority.

If an officer knows of a warrant for arrest but doesn't have it may arrest the person identified in it at any time. The officer must inform the arrestee about the warrant and serve it as quickly as possible.

Depending on the offense, a person might be held for hours until declared not guilty, bailed out, or never released. The crime, trial length, and other variables determine this.

Due to rapid trial regulations in North Carolina, the first detention in a local police station or county jail usually lasts three days (72 hours). This trial decides whether the defendant is guilty or eligible for bail.

What Is the Arrest Booking Process in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the arrest booking process is similar to most states in the U.S.

During the arrest, the arresting law enforcement officers will take the individual into custody and inform their rights and the reason for the arrest.

Law enforcement officers in North Carolina must advise a person of their Miranda rights before conducting a custodial interrogation. These rights include remaining silent, attorney representation, and discontinuing questioning.

After that, the police officer will transport them to the local jail or detention center for booking.

During the booking procedure, the officer will take their picture, sometimes known as a "mugshot. Also, they will collect the arrestee's fingerprints, name, age, weight, and other essential and identifying information.

Depending on the facility, an arrestee may also be required to hand up their clothes and wear a prison uniform. The officer will store their clothes and other belongings until their release. Then, law enforcement will conduct a criminal background check to see if the arrestee has any prior criminal history.

Sometimes, the arrestee undergoes a health screening, including a medical evaluation and mental health assessment.

After being booked, the police will wait between 48 and 72 hours to file charges. The arrestee will have an initial appearance before a magistrate judge or commissioner who will set bail or determine if they should be held without bond.

Finally, the arrestee will have an arraignment, during which they will be formally charged with a crime and enter a guilty or not guilty plea.

What Are North Carolina Mugshot Records?

Part of the North Carolina Arrest Records is the mugshot records. These records are official photographs of a person taken during the booking process in the state. Law enforcement officers often take these photographs and use them for identification purposes.

Mugshot records may include a person's name, birth date, the date and time of their arrest, and the arrest location.

Local law enforcement agencies or county jails typically maintain these records. Thus, the best way to obtain a copy of a mugshot in North Carolina is to contact the law enforcement agency or county jail that arrested the person. Depending on the agency's policy, you may need to submit a written request or fill out a form and pay any required fees for a copy of the mugshot.

Alternatively, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) maintains an Offender Search tool, where you can search for mugshot records of individuals incarcerated in state correctional facilities.

In some cases, a person may have their mugshot removed from public view, such as if the court drops the charges against them or the court finds them not guilty. However, the specific rules and procedures for removing a mugshot from public view may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances of the case.

How Long Does an Arrest Record Stay in North Carolina?

Individuals in North Carolina Arrest Records will have their records maintained permanently by the arresting agency.

If there's a conviction, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will collect and maintain the record for at least 50 years.

Those arrested but not convicted will continue to have their records maintained by the arresting agency but not transmitted to the SBI.

Fortunately, North Carolina provides a process for expungement, which allows certain criminal records, like arrest records, to be erased or sealed from public view.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record in North Carolina?

Expungement or expunction in North Carolina is a legal process that allows individuals to have their criminal charges or convictions cleared or sealed from public view.


To expunge an arrest record in North Carolina, the individual must follow certain legal procedures and meet specific eligibility requirements.

Generally, here are the eligibility requirements to expunge North Carolina Arrest Records:

  • If the court dismissed the charges or the defendant was innocent
  • If the North Carolina governor has granted the record holder pardon
  • If the arrestee completed a substance addiction treatment program and stayed drug-free for a particular amount of time (for a drug-related arrest)

In North Carolina, those accused of a felony are eligible for dismissal or a not-guilty judgment. But, if found guilty, the waiting time depends on the offense and your age. Generally, violent felony offenses are never eligible for expungement.

Likewise, you are instantly eligible for expungement if you have a misdemeanor charge but are found not guilty. If convicted, the waiting time varies by age and the offense.

Arrest Record Expungement Procedure in North Carolina

If the record is eligible for expungement, the individual should file a petition with the court in the county where the arrest occurred. The petition should include specific information such as the charges, the arrest date, and other relevant details.

To have a record expunged, qualified individuals may also ask the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC). You will often need to download and complete the Petition for Expungement Form. Also, you will need to provide a certified copy of the court ruling dismissing charges or finding the defendant not guilty, as well as any other relevant documentation.

After that, send the completed form and supporting documentation to the NCAOC's mailing address.

The NCAOC will evaluate the petition and supplementary materials. If everything is in order, they will inform the county's district attorney, police chief, and sheriff about the arrest. The agencies will have 30 days (one month) to file an objection to the expungement.

In most cases, a hearing may be necessary, and the individual must attend the hearing to argue for expungement. Then, the court will decide whether to grant the expungement.

If there are no objections, the NCAOC will send all relevant agencies an order to remove the record from public view.

How To Search North Carolina Arrest Records?

While searching for North Carolina Arrest Records, there are a few considerations to remember. The first is that not all arrests will be public records. If the arrested individual is not convicted, their arrest record may not be publicly accessible.

Second, even if an arrest record is available to the public, it may not include all the desired information. In some instances, official records may consist of the accusations against the suspect and not the case's resolution.

Nonetheless, you can search and obtain arrest records in North Carolina through NCDPS. To seek an arrest record from the NCDPS by mail, you must submit the Criminal Record Request Form to the Clerk of Superior Court in the county or jurisdiction where the arrest or offense occurred.

Another way is to contact the sheriff's office in the county where the arrest occurred or the local law enforcement agency that arrested the individual.

Furthermore, some county courthouses in North Carolina have websites where the general public can view public data, including arrest records. Regrettably, not all counties make their documents accessible online, so you may need to phone or visit the appropriate courthouse to acquire them.

In performing a successful arrest record search in North Carolina, it is best to have the arrestee's personal information. This information may include the offender's name, gender, date of birth, ethnic group, race, and offender ID.


Counties in North Carolina

Jails and Prisons in North Carolina

Mecklenburg County NC Jail-North5235 Spector Drive, Charlotte, NC
Mecklenburg County Work Release & Restitution Center901 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC
Eastern Regional Office13777 Ballantyne Corporate Place, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC
Mecklenburg County NC Jail-Central801 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, NC
Wake Correctional Center1000 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, NC
Wake Juvenile Detention Center700 Beacon Lake Drive, Raleigh, NC
Central Prison1300 Western Boulevard, Raleigh, NC
Wake County NC Detention Division3301 Hammond Road (First Facility), Raleigh, NC