Learn More About Jail Records

“Jail records” deal with a very specific part--and place--in the criminal justice process.

Different From Arrest and Conviction Records

Jail records are inherently different from both arrest and conviction records, which are in and of themselves two very different types of records. The difference is that jail records only exist after the arrest and conviction; they exclusively have to do with the individual’s jail sentence. You also won’t find any jail records if the person in question didn’t spend any time in jail, although you might find records if the person didn’t take bail and stayed in jail until the conviction.

These records are also different because of the way they can truly reflect an individual’s character. It’s one thing to see that someone received a DUI conviction, but there’s a difference between someone who served time well and received an early release and someone who was regularly violent and received additional jail time.

Conduct and Behavioral Complaints

Behavioral information is an important part of jail records. This is one of the most important things jails use when deciding whether someone is eligible for parole. Even an individual convicted of a violent crime can turn things around and work toward becoming a better person. On the other hand, someone who received a conviction for disorderly conduct and was regularly violent and temperamental in jail may be more of a danger.

These conduct issues are an important part of jail records. If you can find information about it, make sure you read all the details you can. Just as the parole board uses these records to dictate whether an individual can go back to normal life in society, you can use the records to determine whether you think you can trust a person.

Jail and Behavioral History

With jail records, you can build a true history of someone’s criminal behavior. These jail records provide additional information that may be incredibly helpful for you to truly determine what someone’s like nowadays. Go back to the earliest conviction and see why the person received it, how long the person stayed in jail, and whether the person got out early or on time. Then, follow that trail down any recurring convictions.

Remember that sometimes jail time is more indicative of socioeconomic status than criminal behavior. That’s one of the reasons jail and arrest records are so important. Did the person commit another crime, or was the next conviction just because the person missed parole meetings or fee payments? Pay special attention to this information.

When Can I Access Jail Records?

Although it’s worth it to try and determine where you can gain access to jail records, something that’s even more important is actually when you can access these records.

Within 48 Hours (In-Person)

If an officer arrested and jailed someone within the last 48 hours, these records are almost certainly not available online. It usually takes a few days for that information to go through the system, which means that recently jailed individuals tend to not show up.

However, you can still find that information most of the time in person. Except in certain cases regarding privacy concerns, or if state law forbids it, you can often call the sheriff’s office directly and inquire about whether the jail currently houses whoever you’re looking for. Just make sure you check your local and state laws to ensure that this is legal.

Current Inmates

If someone is currently in prison, you might actually be able to see that through jail records. If it’s been at least a few days, check through PeopleFinders to see whether there’s any information regarding a person’s current status: either in jail or out of jail.

Remember that this also varies from state to state. Some states may only release this information after releasing an individual from prison, some may only offer the information in certain cases and not others, and some may not even have an option for you to find out while someone’s in jail. Your best bet is to research jail laws in your state or the state in which you’re trying to find someone.

Previous Inmates

In many cases, you can access jail records when the jail has already released the inmate in question. For the most part, you’ll find these jail records under a regular criminal records search, as those records then become part of an individual’s criminal history. At that point, you usually want to find out how a person acted inside the jail, rather than trying to determine whether the person is in jail right now.

Different jails have different ways of classifying inmates and behavior. Although you might not always be able to see conduct reports and potential behavioral issues, it’s definitely still worth a look. At the very least, you can see when an individual stayed in jail and whether the jail released the person early.

How Can I Use Jail Records?

What are the best ways to use jail records? There are a lot of ways to do it, but these are especially useful for many people.

Find Jailed Family and Friends

If you happen to know someone has a tendency to wind up on the wrong side of the law, you can sometimes use jail records to tell whether that person is currently in jail. Because many states allow you to use jail records to determine whether an individual is currently in jail, it can only take a few clicks before you have the answer.

This is also a useful trick if you aren’t sure where someone is and you think the person may be in jail. Although you can attempt to call the sheriff’s office, that can be more difficult than it seems. Plus, some jails function on extremely expensive calling systems, and that can be unaffordable if you’re not sure how to work through it.

Check Potential Relationships

You can perform a background check on anyone that you’re interested in dating or becoming close with, and jail records can be a big part of that. Again, if you can see behavioral information from these jail records, it will give you a much fuller understanding of how the individual in question has grown and changed since first spending time in jail.

If you see a criminal conviction and jail time in someone’s background check, especially someone that you’re interested in dating, it makes sense to feel shocked and upset. But try not to judge too quickly. Look into the jail records and see if you can find evidence that the person changed.

Tell If Friends Are Trustworthy

It’s always good to have trustworthy friends, but a simple criminal records check doesn’t always tell the full story. Especially if you’re young, you might see that a person has disorderly conduct convictions or minor infractions like parking tickets. But what happens when those infractions add up? Your friends could end up spending a few days in jail over it.

Whether these jail records encompass months and years or just a few days, they’re a good way to tell how trustworthy you may find your friends. After all, while a young person sometimes just makes some bad decisions, that person’s overall conduct and journey through life is an important part of that determination.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I do a jail records search on peoplefinders.com?

You can search for jail records on PeopleFinders starting with a general criminal records search.

Can I find jail records for free on peoplefinders.com?

Access to jail records is not free. Sorry.

How do I find jail records?

Apart from looking on PeopleFinders, you can also find jail records by contacting the jail where the inmate is housed, or the court clerk's office (in the county where sentence was passed).

What are jail records?

Jail records include any public records related to a person's incarceration at a jail, such as inmate records and court records.

Are jail records public?

They are, yes.

What's the difference between jail and prison?

The main differences lay in the severity of the crime committed and the amount of time that a person must serve. Typically, someone in jail will serve a sentence of less than a year for a more minor crime, while a prison sentence entails a longer stay for a more major crime.

How do I find out why someone was in jail?

If you can find jail records online, you should also find out the preceeding court records and sentencing, outlining the person's crime. Or, you can just call the jail in question; employees are typically allowed to reveal the cause of an inmate's jail stay.

What are Jail Records?