Whether you’re in search of North Carolina arrest records, criminal proceedings, probation or parole details, warrant information, state or federal prisoners, sex offender registry entries, or simply want to conduct a background check, this comprehensive guide equips you with all the necessary information to streamline the process.

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Public Access to Criminal Records & Arrest Records in North Carolina (NC)

As detailed in our North Carolina public records search guide, criminal and arrest records, among other records, are generally accessible to the public, unless the record is sealed, expunged, or involves a juvenile record.

The North Carolina General Assembly has enacted the North Carolina General Statutes § 132-6-6.2, mandating the prompt provision of public records, including criminal and arrest records, to members of the public, with exceptions such as sealed court records, juvenile records, crime scene photographs, and offender fingerprints.

In most cases, public agencies should not charge fees for uncertified copies of public records that exceed the cost of producing the copy, meaning that accessing North Carolina arrest records is typically free or available at a minimal cost.

Additionally, aside from obtaining information directly from government entities, numerous third-party websites offer public records search services for a fee, offering a faster and more convenient process and potentially enhancing privacy.

Differences Between Criminal Records & Arrest Records in North Carolina

Criminal record searches and arrest record searches exhibit marked differences based on their respective purposes. Arrest records typically relate to an individual’s interaction with law enforcement when taken into custody for an alleged crime, including information on charges, bond amounts, and arresting agencies.

Conversely, criminal record searches furnish information about individuals who have interacted with law enforcement and have been convicted of the crimes they were charged with in court. These records usually include court case numbers, dates of conviction, and any guilty pleas.

Criminal Records Include:

  • Full names
  • Date of birth (DOB)
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Case numbers
  • Court information
  • Addresses (former and present)
  • Type of conviction
  • Guilty pleas (if any)
  • Date of conviction
  • Court charges (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Date of release
  • Mug shot (photograph)
  • Former arrest records
  • Date of disposition

Arrest Records Include:

  • Names of the arrested individuals
  • Booking numbers
  • Court case numbers
  • Age
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Arresting agency
  • Date of arrest
  • Arrest location
  • Cell Number
  • Charges
  • Warrant information
  • Severity of charges
  • Bail amount

How to Access North Carolina Arrest Records, Detainment Reasons, & Mugshots for Free

North Carolina arrest records can be obtained at no cost from county sheriff’s offices, local police departments, and city jails. Many county sheriff’s departments maintain online rosters for public viewing, while physical visits or phone inquiries are also options to access this information.

However, it’s possible that information on current arrests may be withheld, especially if it could jeopardize an ongoing investigation or infringe on an offender’s privacy, such as obtaining fingerprints. Nevertheless, in most cases, criminal discovery rules require this information to be made available to the public, displaying details like the date of arrest, reasons for arrest, and the arresting agency.

Conducting an Arrest Records Search via North Carolina County Sheriff’s Offices

Apart from local police departments, county sheriff’s offices are a valuable source of information on recent arrests. North Carolina has 100 counties, each with its own sheriff’s office. Many of these offices maintain online rosters of individuals in custody, including photographs in the mugshot database, which forms part of the arrest record. Utilizing online search features or making a phone call to the county sheriff’s office is often the quickest way to ascertain recent arrest information.

In cases where no online roster is available, individuals can visit the sheriff’s office in person or contact them by phone if online information is not accessible. Sheriff’s offices typically offer the most reliable means of accessing recent arrest information.

Check North Carolina Municipal Jails & Police Department’s Inmate Rosters

In addition to finding recent arrests in county jails, members of the public can locate inmates who have been recently booked in city jails in local police departments. The Southern Pines Police Department maintains a database that shows recent arrests.

However, just like with counties, some cities may not maintain online rosters. In cases like this, interested individuals can either phone or physically visit the local law enforcement agencies to obtain this information. Therefore, citizens looking at how to find out someone’s charges in jail can look to the city jails as well when ascertaining this information.

When applicable, type “[name of the city] North Carolina arrest search” into a search engine to see if the local police department hosts an online inmate roster.

Many police departments in North Carolina, such as the Southern Pines (See “Police Data & Alerts), partner with Citizens Connect to publish online arrest reports.

The following North Carolina towns’ and cities’ arrest logs can be searched through Citizens Connect:

  • Aberdeen, North Carolina
  • Bessemer City, North Carolina
  • Forest City, North Carolina
  • Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Southern Pines, North Carolina
  • Greensboro, North Carolina

How To Get Ahold of Someone in a North Carolina Jail & Post Their Bail

Members of the public can communicate with offenders through phone, mail, and in-person visitations—they can also help get offenders out of jail by posting bail on their behalf.

Contacting an Inmate

Prisoners who are located in county jails may communicate with family and friends but each facility has its own protocols and members of the public should contact the sheriff’s office to ascertain what are the procedures for establishing communication

Generally, contacting an inmate can be done in 3 ways:

  • In-person visitations or video visitations
  • Inmates may make outbound calls but typically do not receive calls.
  • They can also send and receive mail.

In-Person Visitation—For illustrative purposes, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office is used to give an impression of some visitation protocols that can be expected:

  • The dress code is strictly enforced and the visit time is limited to 15 minutes for every session.
  • Children can visit as long as they are accompanied by an adult. A maximum of 2 adults per inmate are allowed to visit.
  • Visitors must have a government-issued ID.
  • Visitors must be on a visitation list or cannot visit etc.

Calls—Inmates cannot receive calls but can make outbound collect calls.

Mail—Jones County Detention Center for example allows mail but no phone calls and their protocol for inmate correspondence can be found here:

  • Mail should have the full name and address of both sender and recipient.
  • All mail is subject to inspection for contraband.
  • No illicit photos, materials advocating violence, or perfume sprayed on envelopes and so on.
  • No profanity on envelopes etc.

Bailing Out an Inmate

Bond is generally set by the courts in North Carolina when offenders have been charged for an offense and depending on what crime has been committed, the inmate will have to remain in jail until the bond is posted or the case is resolved. There are a number of bonds that can be set in North Carolina, these are:

  • Cash Bond—monetary bond
  • Unsecured Bond—a monetary bond set by the judge but that doesn’t have to be paid unless the offender forfeits court.
  • Written Promise To Appear—the defendant is free to leave custody with a promise to attend court.
  • Secured Bond—the most common bond satisfied by cash or hiring a bondsman.

When a defendant is required to post bond, it is not meant as a form of punishment but is instead meant to be a strong incentive for them to attend court. Therefore, as per the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the bond amount should not be excessive.

There are 3 ways in which family and friends can set bail for a defendant:

  • Paying The Entire Amount—Paying the entire bond amount to the court which most people typically cannot afford.
  • Collateral—The courts will accept collateral such as a home or land in lieu or excess of the bond amount.
  • Hiring a Bondsman—Since most people don’t have the resources to pay the full bond amounts, they will turn to bail bondsmen. The defendant will contract with a bonding company to eventually pay the full amount in exchange for a fee which is usually capped at 15% of the total bond amount but could be lower. The defendant will not get the fee refunded upon completion of the case.

It is therefore ideal and recommended to retain the services of a lawyer who may help reduce the bond amount. They should then proceed to enlist a bonding company— in this way, they are not deprived of financial resources which prevents them from hiring a defense lawyer once they incur the initial higher bond expenses.

How To Look Up North Carolina (NC) Criminal Records

Other than local, state, and federal agencies, members of the public can obtain North Carolina criminal records from these jurisdictions; these will be elaborated on in the sections below:

Searching the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the State Bureau of Investigation.

Using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database to retrieve appellate court records and records of federal offenses. While searching is free, these records may incur a nominal cost.

Requesters can also obtain criminal records through county courts which contain court records and information on ongoing court cases.

Search Criminal Records Through North Carolina’s eCourts System & County Clerk of Courts

As court records are part of public records, they are available to members of the public. Court records can also be obtained from some counties by physically visiting the county courthouses that have self-service terminals. These terminals can be searched using case number, defendant name, victim, and/or witness name. Copies may be made of these records for a fee.

North Carolina is in the process of transitioning away from paper to digital records for all its 100 counties in a system known as eCourts—currently, only Harnett, Johnston, Lee, and Wake are eCourt counties.

Search Options for Court and Criminal Records

Interested individuals have the ability to search for court and criminal records using various criteria, including:

  • Case Number: Search for records by specifying the case number.
  • Name: Look up records by entering the name of the individual.
  • Attorney: Find records associated with a specific attorney.

Use the Remote Public Access Program (RPA) Hosted by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) To Retrieve Criminal Records

Overview North Carolina offers the Remote Public Access Program (RPA) as a means to retrieve criminal records. While eCourts is in the process of becoming accessible for all counties, the RPA serves as a centralized public records repository, granting access to criminal and record data across all 100 counties. This repository provides the same information that can be obtained from a public terminal at any North Carolina courthouse.

Statewide and Real-time Access: In addition to the RPA, individuals can also perform statewide and real-time criminal background checks through the Automated Criminal/Infractions System (ACIS) and the Civil Case Processing System (VCAP).

Third-Party Access: The North Carolina General Assembly has granted the NCAOC the authority to establish contracts with third-party entities. These contracts are non-exclusive and allow for remote electronic access to court records by the public. It is important to note that this service is not provided free of charge; it comes with a cost, and users must complete a registration process to obtain a license for its use.

NCAOC Extract Fees: NCAOC offers four criminal extracts and four civil extracts, and in addition to other fees found in this extract fee schedule, there is a setup fee of $495 if a historical extract is not purchased. A bond amount of $5000 is required to execute an extract licensing agreement with the NCAOC.

How to Obtain a Copy of Criminal Records in North Carolina Through Various Agencies

Interested individuals can obtain copies of North Carolina criminal records through multiple avenues, including law enforcement agencies and the courts. These are outlined below:

NC Department of Public Safety Background Checks

    • The NC Department of Public Safety collaborates with the court system to provide background checks.
    • Cost: $14.

North Carolina Court System

    • The North Carolina Court System contains a complete database of convictions and charges made by the state, county, and city law enforcement agencies against offenders.

State Bureau of Investigation Background Checks

    • The State Bureau of Investigation is the primary central repository for criminal information for the state of North Carolina and facilitates finger-based background checks.
    • This is referred to as the “Right to Review” your North Carolina record.
    • Cost: $14.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Background Checks

    • For federal background checks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can provide finger-based criminal history background checks known as Identity History Summary Check.
    • Cost: $18 processing fee.

Contact Local County Courts

    • Members of the public can also proceed to contact their local county courts from the table above to obtain copies of these records.

The intricacies of how to conduct these checks will be delved into in the sections below.

Accessing Probation or Parole Information in North Carolina (Finding Someone on Probation and Parole in NC)

Finding whether an offender is on probation or parole is a simple and straightforward process that is facilitated by the North Carolina Department of Corrections, which has an easy-to-use parole database.

This tool is also generally used to locate offenders

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision & Parole Commission that are incarcerated in state prisons.

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision & Parole Commission is an independent agency responsible for overseeing the release of eligible offenders in accordance with the North Carolina General Statutes.18.

Parole and Probation in North Carolina

Parole in North Carolina constitutes the conditional and supervised release of an offender before the completion of their prison sentence. In contrast, probation is a court-ordered release without imprisonment, unless otherwise specified by law.

Comparison of Probation and Parole Across States

To provide insight into the prevalence of probation and parole in North Carolina relative to other states, the following image illustrates:

  • The total number of probationers and parolees in North Carolina
  • A comparison with other states across the United States
  • The ethnicities of individuals under community supervision (combined probationers and parolees) in North Carolina.

Structured Sentencing in North Carolina

In 1994, the N.C General Assembly eliminated parole and enacted Structured Sentencing—this mandates that crimes that were committed by offenders on or after October 1, 1994, must have the offenders serve 100% of the minimum sentence and 85% of the maximum sentence. Once these requirements are met, they are released on post-release supervision.

Parole Eligibility

Those who committed crimes before this date are still eligible for parole.

Probation Search Procedure

To perform a probation search, members of the public simply open the parolee search tool select the ‘Active Probation/Parolee’ radio button, and input the bio-data such as the names, offender number, birth date, and even an age range.

Upon selecting an offender, the status of the probation shows as being active and the inmate status as being inactive.

Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in North Carolina

Sealing and expunging criminal records in North Carolina has been made a relatively faster and easier process thanks to the new expungement law signed in 2017 known as Senate Bill 445. Senate Bill 445’s main goal is to reduce the wait time to expunge felony convictions and misdemeanors (non-violent); components of the change are outlined below:

  • It is possible to expunge misdemeanor convictions after 5 years instead of 15 years.
  • Permissible to expunge felony convictions after 10 years rather than 15 years.
  • No limit on the number of dismissals that can be expunged.
  • Law enforcement and prosecutors will still have access to these records.

Expunction Process

Expunction is a legal process that pertains to the removal of a person’s criminal conviction or other charges that were dropped or dismissed. Expunctions will generally not make offenders immune from all consequences of their records such as when making determinations in matters regarding federal immigration.

Criteria for Petitioning for Expunction

Before being able to petition for an expunction, petitioners should fulfill these criteria:

  • Meet required waiting periods.
  • Pay all court-related costs and have proof for the same.
  • Cannot be on probation or parole anywhere.
  • Have no criminal summons or warrant for arrest.
  • Have no open criminal cases or pending criminal charges.

Filing for a Petition for Expunction

To file for a petition for expunction:

  • Petitions for expunctions are filed with the clerk of court in the county where the offender was charged.
  • The exact process of filing varies by each expunction statute, and links to the petition forms of each form of expunction can be found here. Each form will have an instruction sheet for each petition.
  • Some petitions will require additional supporting documents such as affidavits of good character from people who know the petitioner. This will be detailed in the instructions.
  • There is generally a $175 filing fee to file the expunction petition. Nevertheless, some expunction statutes may not require a fee such as charges that were dismissed or those that ended in a non-guilty verdict.
  • Some petitions may require a court hearing where a judge can determine whether the petitioner is of good character.
  • The process may take months due to the time required to run criminal record checks and schedule a hearing.

Self-Filing for Expunction: A Complex Process

It is possible to self-file for an expunction. However, due to the process being lengthy and quite complicated, any error in filing can lead to major delays in what is already a year-long process. Therefore, it is recommended to hire the services of an attorney.

How To Locate Someone in a Federal Prison or North Carolina (NC) State Prison

Prisoners in North Carolina are housed in 57 state prisons dotted throughout the state and 1 federal prison located at The Federal Correctional Complex near Butner. Interested individuals looking to locate state prisoners can obtain information from the database maintained by the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections (NC DAC), and federal prison records can be searched through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Federal Prisoner Search

Members of the public can locate federal inmates at the facility in Butner maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BPO) by querying the Federal Prison Inmate Locator.

North Carolina State Prisoner Search

This search tool provides the convenience of locating state prisoners in North Carolina using two key methods: by the offender’s last name or their BOP Register Number. The best part? It’s entirely fee-free, with no registration required.

North Carolina State Prisoner Locator Tool

Finding information about state prisoners housed by the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction is a straightforward and cost-free process. The agency offers two valuable resources: the North Carolina State Prisoner Locator Tool and the Automated System Query (ASQ) Tool. Both tools draw from the same comprehensive database, but the ASQ Tool empowers users to generate tailor-made special reports based on specific criteria.

Using the Prison Locator Tool

This versatile tool, functioning as both a prison locator and a people finder, allows users to search for individuals using offender bio-data. This includes essential information such as names, offender numbers, gender, date of birth (DOB), and more.

Using the ASQ Tool

The ASQ Tool operates by enabling users to search based on various criteria, including ‘probation’ and ‘community supervisions,’ and then matching these criteria with ‘entries’ or ‘exits’. This advanced search method offers additional flexibility for obtaining precise information.

Communicating with State Prisoners in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is possible for families to communicate with state prisoners. Inmates located in state prisons can send and receive mail, but they receive only copies of the mail, not the original copies. All mail is processed by Text Behind, and all mail for inmates should be sent to the company’s facility in Maryland using the following format:

Name & Opus Number Name of Prison (not abbreviated) P.O. Box 247 Phoenix, MD 21131

This mailing system is designed to prevent the smuggling of contraband into prison facilities, and all mail must be approved before being delivered to offenders.

Inmates in the general population, with the exception of those in central prison, can also make phone calls out of prison but cannot receive calls. In case a family member has an emergency that they need to communicate to an offender, they should contact the facility to explain the situation to staff members and provide relative contact information for emergency verification.

GTL (Global Tel*Link) has a contract with the NCDOC (North Carolina Department of Corrections), allowing family and friends to purchase telephone time for calls.

How to Determine If You or Someone Else Has an Arrest Warrant

The state of North Carolina defines an arrest warrant as consisting of the accused person’s alleged crime, a direction to arrest the accused person, and the authorization to hold the person to answer for the alleged crimes, based on probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.

Unlike some other states, North Carolina does not have a centralized database or search tool for retrieving warrant information for its citizens. However, interested individuals have several options to obtain this information, including:

  • Querying the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI).
  • Some county sheriffs may provide a warrant list.
  • Contacting local county courts.
  • Using third-party websites.

Querying The NCSBI

Due to the Right to Review Process mentioned earlier, members of the public can run a criminal history check with the NCSBI, which will also include warrant information. To do so, send a written request to:

  • Civilian Services Unit: Right to Review PO Box 29500 Raleigh, North Carolina 27626

Requesters should fill out the Request Form-Right to Review and mail it to the above address along with a $14 certified check or money order payable to the NC State Bureau of Investigation.

Background Check Process in North Carolina

  • County Courts: The process should take 2 calendar weeks. As the responsibility of issuing warrants lies with the courts, citizens may contact the county courts using the Court Locator Tool to ascertain the status of warrants. The clerks of courts would be the point of contact for this.
  • County Sheriff’s Office: To see if someone has a warrant out for their arrest, most county sheriff’s offices in North Carolina provide arrest warrant details upon request or have a dedicated online page for warrants. For example, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office website mentions that citizens can contact their office and they’ll provide warrant details.
  • Third-Party Websites: Some third-party websites may offer a search service that may be used to obtain warrant information for a fee. They generally make the process much simpler, since requesters don’t need to scour around government websites trying to find this information.

How To Get a Background Check Done for Personal or Professional Purposes in North Carolina

Government agencies in North Carolina are mandated to ensure some professionals such as caregivers and those engaged in volunteer work complete background screenings to ensure they don’t have North Carolina arrest records. Many occupations that require state-issued licenses such as pharmacists and real estate appraisers will need background checks completed.

These background checks are mandated to ensure public safety and to maintain a high quality of professionalism by individuals to whom these licenses are issued. Background checks primarily fall on the shoulders of:

  • The North Carolina Court System: Allows the general public to check other’s criminal history
  • The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI): For professional uses
  • Third-party vendors: For professional uses

While it is possible for members of the public to perform a background check on someone else in North Carolina for personal reasons and without consent, background checks that are completed for professional purposes must conform to the guidelines set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA).

Guidelines like those set forth by the EEOC prohibit employers from conducting background checks and using the information gathered to undermine equal employment opportunities for potential employees.

The FCRA also mandates that employers obtain consent to conduct background checks from potential employees. In addition, it gives employees the right to review the results from the checks and rectify any mistakes and also to appeal any decisions that have been made resulting from the background checks.

Background Check Process via North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI)

There are several background checks that can be performed through the NCSBI, these are:

  • Personal Background Checks
  • Background Checks by Employers and Licensing Entities as those in the table above

Employers and Licensing Entities

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) performs the role of CJIS Systems Agency (CSA) for the State of North Carolina. FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) is the nation’s central records repository for the information system providing assistance to state law enforcement, and public, governmental, and private entities that share information for criminal justice (CJ) and noncriminal justice (NCJ) purposes.

Agencies such as licensing entities and employees that require background checks have a contract with NCSBI known as an access agreement—these organizations seeking access to criminal history record information (CHRI) must provide the statutory authority to authorize checks for records on applicants and/or employees.

Personal Background Checks

  • Both North Carolina State and Federal laws allow individuals to request copies of CHRI for background checks as methods to check if someone has a criminal record—fingerprint checks that are done for someone else will require consent:

NC State Fingerprint-Based Check

  • This costs $14 as mentioned earlier and is a finger-based CHRI check known as the right to review.
  • An NC state conducted by the SBI will include a response letter on a letterhead from the SBI. Instruction and more information to complete the Request Form-Right to Review are found here.

National Finger-print-Based Check

  • National checks can be conducted through the FBI as aforementioned and are fingerprint-based. The fastest way to do this is online which will take 3-5 days, but can also be done by mail which will take up to 2 months.


  • Proceed to Identity History Summary Checks
  • Follow the steps outlined under the section labeled ‘Obtaining Your Identity History Summary’.
  • Obtain fingerprints from participating U.S. post office locations electronically; this option will require the application completed online and payment made. Those who don’t choose to use a U.S. post office location may mail their completed fingerprint card along with the confirmation email received when the electronic request was made. These finder print cards can be done at county sheriff’s offices.
  • The cost for this check is $18.

By Mail

  • Complete the Applicant information form.
  • Obtain fingerprints to be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-1164) on ink or live scan. This can be done at the county sheriff’s offices.
  • The cost of this CHRI (rap sheet) is $18 and payment through credit card is done through this Credit Card Payment Form or money order which is payable to the Treasury of the United States.

Mail the required items (signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 per person) to FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request 1000 Custer Hollow Rd Clarksburg, WV 26306

  • Background Checks in North Carolina

Introduction Individuals in North Carolina can access criminal background check services through the North Carolina Court System and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. This allows members of the public to obtain information about criminal records, whether for themselves or others.

North Carolina Court System

  • Visit the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s Criminal Background Check page to initiate the background check process.
  • Determine the specific type of background check you require.
  • Note that this criminal record search by name is limited to a single county and must be conducted through the clerk of the superior court office.
  • Complete Form AOC-CR-314.
  • Submit the form, along with a $25 fee (accepted in the form of a money order, credit card, or cash), to the county court clerk’s office.

North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS)

  • Individuals seeking information on the criminal records of those who have served prison sentences can access these records through the NC Department of Adult Corrections.
  • For information related to individuals who may have committed sex offenses, refer to the NC Sex Offender Registry, which will be discussed further in the following section.

National Sex Offender Search

There is also a National Sex Offender Search to locate sex offenders on a national level.

Third-party vendors or Criminal Background Check Companies Endorsed by the North Carolina Judicial Branch

Unofficial records can also be performed by third parties that sell information to members of the public. The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) has a list of third-party vendors that obtain information from them pursuant to a licensing agreement but does not, however, guarantee the accuracy of information from these vendors.

How To View & Search the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry

The NC General Assembly established the North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry in 1996 as per North Carolina Code § 14-208.5, which requires persons convicted of sex crimes to register with law enforcement agencies.

This registry serves as a tool to educate the public and enhance community safety.

Ways to Find Offenders Using Felony Registry and Online Directory:

  • By First and Last Name
  • By Address or Nearby Address
  • Using Their Sex Offender Registration Number
  • By Latitude and Longitude for General Areas or Areas without an Actual Address

Your Rights Regarding Criminal Records & Arrest Records Under North Carolina Laws

While the North Carolina General Statutes § 132-6-6.2 and the Freedom for Information Act (FOIA) provide the public with the right to access criminal and arrest records at the state and federal levels, there are laws that protect citizens’ rights by limiting public access to certain criminal records.

These laws are enforced by government agencies including the Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA).

FCRA: The FCRA imposes guidelines, including a 7-year look-back rule that allows consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to report an individual’s criminal history. Look-back periods may vary between states.

EEOC: Employers are obligated to disclose criminal convictions during background checks. Refusing job offers to applicants based on convictions that occurred many years before the application is a violation of EEOC laws. This is due to the EEOC’s role in enforcing workplace civil rights to prevent employee discrimination.

Additionally, certain criminal records in North Carolina are not subject to public access, including criminal investigation records and records related to public security.

Expunction: North Carolina has passed Senate Bill 445, which reduces the waiting time for expunctions of felony and misdemeanor convictions. When criminal records are sealed or expunged, individuals can legally deny a conviction. However, expunctions do not exempt offenders from all consequences, especially in matters related to federal immigration.

Juvenile Records: North Carolina prohibits the scrutiny of certain criminal records, especially those of extreme nature like felonies and murder cases, or records that may endanger the safety of inmates and facility personnel, except by court order.

Ban The Box: North Carolina has a “ban the box” law in place, established by Executive Order No. 158 in 2020. This law prohibits employers from inquiring about a potential employee’s criminal background and history in their job applications. Instead, such inquiries are reserved for later stages in the hiring process, typically as a conditional offer of employment. Job applications cannot include questions about expunged records, dismissed charges, charges leading to not-guilty verdicts, or pardoned convictions. “Ban the box” laws ensure that job applicants are initially evaluated based on their qualifications without the bias of a criminal history.

It is permissible to conduct personal named-based criminal background checks without an individual’s consent in North Carolina through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the county courts. However, checks conducted for professional purposes, such as employment, property management, licensing, etc., must adhere to federal and local laws.

Accessing North Carolina criminal records may be a complex and daunting task, but with proper direction and guidance, nearly anyone can easily access free North Carolina arrest records and criminal history reports through the official channels detailed in this guide.


What Are Arrest Records and Criminal Histories?

Arrest records and criminal histories are official documents that provide a comprehensive record of an individual’s interactions with law enforcement agencies. They include details of arrests, charges, court proceedings, convictions, and any associated sentences or penalties. These records are maintained by various law enforcement agencies and the courts and are used to document an individual’s criminal activities.

How Can I Access No-Cost Arrest Records and Criminal Histories in North Carolina?

You can access no-cost arrest records and criminal histories in North Carolina through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and county-level court websites. These online resources allow you to search for and retrieve records related to arrests, convictions, and court proceedings. It’s important to note that while access is typically free, some specific documents or services may incur fees.

Are Arrest Records and Criminal Histories Public Information in North Carolina?

Yes, arrest records and criminal histories are generally considered public information in North Carolina. However, certain restrictions and privacy laws may apply to sensitive information, such as juvenile records or records involving victims of certain crimes. It’s important to be aware of these restrictions when requesting or accessing such records.

Can I Obtain Records for All Counties in North Carolina at Once?

While you can access arrest records and criminal histories for all counties in North Carolina, the process typically involves searching each county’s records individually. Each county maintains its own database of records, and you may need to visit their respective websites or contact their local offices for comprehensive information.

What Information Should I Have to Conduct a Search for Arrest Records and Criminal Histories?

To conduct a search for arrest records and criminal histories in North Carolina, it’s helpful to have the individual’s full name and, if possible, additional identifying information such as their date of birth. This can narrow down the search results and help ensure you find the correct records associated with the person you are interested in.