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Los Angeles County Arrest Records

Law enforcement personnel in Los Angeles County, California, have the legal authority to make arrests when someone is found committing or is suspected of a criminal offense (Penal Code, Chapter 5). This offense may be categorized as a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction, each with distinct legal implications.

Typically, an arrest incident leads to a suspect's booking in the nearest police precinct or jail. Booking, sometimes called "processing," is when a police department collects and records information about a suspect in a system, such as their personal information and description, photograph, fingerprints, possessions, DNA, and the alleged crime details. The procedure generates a few official documents, including an arrest record. Depending on the crime, the suspect may be released on a promise to appear or detained in a jail facility operated by the arresting police department until their first court appearance (or arraignment).

In Los Angeles County, arrest records are primarily maintained by the police agencies that create them. However, these records are crucial for beginning criminal proceedings and may offer insight into a person's criminal past. Thus, they may be part of the public files kept by other local and state bodies. For example, arrest information may be accessible in Los Angeles County court records, criminal history files managed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and district and city attorney's office records.

Are Arrest Records Public in Los Angeles County?

Yes. The California Public Records Act (PRA) facilitates public access to arrest records generated and maintained in California counties. The PRA is a state law that provides access to information pertinent to the conduct of the "people's business," including law enforcement activities like arrests. Therefore, anyone can request an arrest record from law enforcement in Los Angeles County.

Notwithstanding, the PRA notes several restrictions to the public's access, often to uphold a fair justice process and secure information that could endanger a person's life or safety. These exemptions include:

  • Information that may compromise an active investigation, related investigation, or law enforcement proceeding
  • Information that may endanger the safety of a witness or other person. For example, a home address or telephone number
  • Information that may reveal investigative techniques
  • Criminal offender record information
  • Identifying juvenile information
  • Information that may deprive someone of a fair trial
  • Any portion of a report that reflects an investigating officer's analysis, recommendation, or conclusion
  • Medical or similar records

Notably, although an arrest record may be exempt from general disclosure in Los Angeles County, certain parties may still be furnished access. These parties may include the subject of the record (the arrestee), the suspect's attorney, and government departments for official purposes.

What Do Public Arrest Records Contain?

Per Section 7923.610 of California's PRA, the following information in a Los Angeles County arrest record is releasable to the public:

  • The suspect's complete name and date of birth
  • The suspect's physical description, including gender, height, weight, scars/tattoos/marks, and eye and hair color
  • The suspect's occupation
  • The arrest date, time, and location
  • If applicable, the suspect's booking information (time, date, location, etc.)
  • Factual circumstances surrounding the arrest
  • Charges the arrestee is currently facing
  • Parole/probation holds and outstanding warrants to which the suspect is subject
  • The manner and time of release or the location where the suspect is presently detained

Generally, juvenile arrest information is not part of the public arrest record in Los Angeles County. However, law enforcement agencies can disclose the names and alleged offenses of minors 14 years or older who were taken into custody for a serious felony (Welfare & Institutions Code § 827.5).

Los Angeles County Crime Rate

The latest crime statistics released by the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) on the Open Justice Portal put the number of reported crimes in Los Angeles County at 305,099 in 2022. According to the publication, property crimes were the most reported offenses, constituting 80% (244,083) of the crime total, while violent crimes comprised the remaining 20% (61,016).

The most prevalent offenses within the property crimes category were larceny-theft, auto theft, and burglary. Larceny theft accounted for 60% (146,412) of all property crimes, followed by auto theft at 24% (57,872) and burglary at 16% (39,799).

On the other hand, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape were the top three violent offenses. Aggravated assault made up 64% of the violent crime total, followed by robbery at 29% (17,438) and rape at 7% (3,869).

Los Angeles County Arrest Statistics

Along with crime statistics, the BSCC publishes arrest statistics for California counties. According to the agency's report, Los Angeles County reported 167,778 arrests in 2022. Of that number, 63,783 (38%) were felonies, 103,942 (62%) were misdemeanors, and 53 (0.03%) were status offenses like curfew violations, truancy, running away, and incorrigibility.

Within the felony arrest category, violent crimes comprised the majority of arrests, accounting for 24,957 (39%) of the total. Next were property crimes at 15,614 (24%), followed by drug offenses at 4,036 (6%).

(Note: The reported arrest offense is the most serious offense, i.e., the one carrying the harshest possible penalty.)

Find Los Angeles County Arrest Records

There are over 45 city police departments in the Los Angeles County area responsible for maintaining law and order within their respective jurisdictions, not including the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's (LASD) patrol stations and state/federal law enforcement agencies operating in the county.

Local law enforcement agencies make most arrests in Los Angeles County. Thus, to find an arrest record, one can contact the Records Bureau/Unit of the police department that made the arrest. Each office has its own procedures and fees for requesting and obtaining records. However, many accept in-person, mail-in, and electronic inquiries, and the following information may be required:

  • The arrestee's first and last name
  • The arrestee's date of birth, if known
  • Incident date and location
  • The requester's contact information
  • Valid government-issued ID (typically to prove one's eligibility when requesting nonpublic arrest records)

If searching for someone who was arrested by local law enforcement but jailed before their initial court appearance, one should query the arresting department or the agency's jail division. For example, if the City of Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) made the arrest, the SMPD jail can be contacted at (310) 458-8482 for information.

However, if the arrestee was remanded to custody after arraignment, the inquirer can contact the LASD's Inmate Information Line at (213) 473-6100. (City or smaller jails typically only hold arrestees for a set time frame, often up to 96 hours after arrest and booking.) The sheriff's office can also be reached to find information about persons arrested by/taken to a patrol station or in custody at jails operated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Occasionally, a federal or state agency will make an arrest in Los Angeles County. Persons seeking information about such incidents have the following options:

  • For arrests made by a state agency, the individual should check with the local sheriff's office. The suspect will be taken to the nearest county jail facility, often a sheriff's station, for booking.

Note: Although the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) runs the state prisons, those facilities only hold people convicted by the courts. Thus, the CDCR only disseminates information about incarcerated state inmates.

  • For arrests made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the suspect will likely be held in federal custody until arraignment. An inquirer can search the Federal Inmate Locator by name or number to find an inmate's holding facility. Subsequently, the individual can contact the facility for information.
  • For arrests made by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), individuals can search the Online Detainee Locator System. If the information is unavailable online, the interested person can contact a local field office or the specific ICE detention facility, if known.

Free Arrest Record Search in Los Angeles County

In Los Angeles County, members of the public can request arrest records from local police departments under the PRA. Typically, any request for record inspection bears no charge on the inquirer. That is to say, the police agency will process the request and provide information to the requester for free. There are associated charges if a record on file will be reproduced.

Besides an in-person or walk-in request, some agencies provide online request centers or resources for obtaining public arrest information at no cost. An example is the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's Inmate Information Center, which retrieves public records (including arrest information) about persons in a Los Angeles County jail facility. At least a first and last name is required for the search.

When requesting arrest records from a local police department, it is important to note that such departments mostly release only adult arrest information to the public. Further, a department may only maintain records for a limited timeframe, according to its records retention schedule.

Another option to look up Los Angeles arrest records is to search a third-party public records database. These web-based databases are operated by private companies that collate public information from various government sources, including law enforcement departments. In most cases, a user can search a third-party website for free using someone's first and last name, but a fee is often charged to obtain a comprehensive report about a person's arrests.

Get Los Angeles County Criminal Records

A criminal record encompasses information about a person's contacts or interactions with criminal justice agencies. It includes arrests, charges, dispositions (the outcomes of court proceedings), sentencing details, and other similar data about a person.

In reality, there is no single repository for criminal record searches, as these checks can be conducted at the county, state, and federal levels. However, persons seeking Los Angeles County criminal records may begin with the local sheriff's office. For a fee, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department disseminates local criminal history information for arrest incidents within the department's jurisdiction. However, Cal. Pen. Code § 13300 authorizes the release of these records only to the subject of the record, parties with the subject's consent, and authorized agencies for official reasons.

Eligible parties can submit a written request to the sheriff's Public Services Unit by mail or schedule an appointment to pick up a copy by calling (562) 345-4441. The following information will be needed to retrieve copies from the Unit at 12440 East Imperial Highway, Suite 120, Norwalk, California 90650:

  • The subject of the record's complete name, including any aliases to be searched
  • The subject's date of birth
  • Incident date and location/address
  • Type of identification the requester will use, plus the ID number and expiry date

People sending mail correspondence must include the subject's full name and date of birth. A requester must also include their mailing address, signature, and valid identification.

Records and Identification Bureau
Attention: Records Inquiry Non-Law Enforcement Section
12440 East Imperial Highway
Suite 400
West Norwalk, California 90650

For jurisdictions outside the local sheriff's office, the authorized party can submit the request to the law enforcement division responsible for an arrest, or they may request statewide criminal history information (or "rap sheet") from the California DOJ. Subjects of records residing in California must complete the Live Scan Form, pay the DOJ's $25 processing fee (unless eligible for a fee waiver), and submit their fingerprint images through a Live Scan operator. Operators charge for the service, and the DOJ will send results to the applicant directly. More information is available on the DOJ's website.

Record subjects can also request nationwide criminal records from the FBI for $18.

Los Angeles County Arrest Records Vs. Criminal Records

"Arrest record" and "criminal record" are terms often used synonymously to describe official notations of a person's criminal past. However, a subtle distinction exists between the two.

A criminal record (or "criminal history record," as it is known in Los Angeles) expands on a person's journey within the criminal justice system, from arrest to conviction and beyond. It features contributions from various criminal justice departments, including local and state law enforcement agencies, court systems, prosecutor's offices, correctional facilities, and probation departments. The California Department of Justice maintains this master file.

On the other hand, an arrest record is a less detailed document maintained locally by arresting police agencies. It carries information about the arrestee, the incident, and the arrest's outcome (such as whether the suspect was released). However, it does not include the court disposition or other criminal data.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

Forever. The State of California does not impose a definite deadline for purging or erasing arrest records. Although law enforcement in Los Angeles County may have their records retention schedules, they transmit arrest records to various state and federal criminal justice agencies, each having its own retention policies. Notably, the California DOJ holds the state's most comprehensive criminal files, and those records are retained until a subject turns 100 years old.

Generally, the only bonafide way to remove an arrest from one's record in Los Angeles or California is to obtain an expungement or sealing.

Expunge Los Angeles County Arrest Records

An arrest record can be sealed or expunged in Los Angeles County, but these terms do not have the same meaning.

California's expungement laws apply to criminal convictions—but only to specific felonies and misdemeanors. In this case, an eligible defendant petitions the court with Form CR-180 to reopen a case, withdraw the "guilty" plea, enter a plea of "not guilty," and finalize the case without a conviction. However, this procedure does not remove records of the arrest and charge(s) or seal the conviction. More information can be obtained by answering prompts on the California judiciary's Clean Your Record page or reviewing Cal. Pen. Code §§ 1203.4 and 1203.4a.

Conversely, California's sealing laws for adult arrest records typically apply when no charges or convictions were entered against a person.

For example, Cal. Pen. Code § 851.8 authorizes sealing when an adult person was arrested but deemed "factually innocent". This term covers scenarios where a defendant was never charged after an arrest, was acquitted in court, or the prosecutor withdrew the charges. In such cases, the individual can submit Form BCIA 8270 (Seal and Destroy Adult Arrest Records) to the following departments:

  • The arresting police department if no charges were filed. The relevant city or district attorney's office must also receive a copy of the petition.
  • The Los Angeles County Superior Court if the defendant submitted a petition to a police department but obtained no remedies, or the individual was charged to court but was acquitted or had the charges dismissed. No fees are assessed for submitting the petition.

Meanwhile, Cal. Pen. Code § 851.91 allows sealing for defendants whose arrests did not result in a conviction. That is to say:

  • The defendant was arrested but had no charges filed.
  • The defendant completed diversion, and the charges were dismissed.
  • The defendant was arrested and charged, but the charges were dismissed.
  • The defendant completed a deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), and the charges were dismissed.
  • The defendant went to trial and was found not guilty.

An affected individual can submit a Petition to Seal Arrest and Related Records (Form CR-409) to the court. Form CR-409-INFO contains details about completing and submitting the petition, including other methods for sealing or limiting arrest records from the public.

Regarding sealing juvenile arrest records in Los Angeles County, an individual may review the judiciary's Guide to Sealing Juvenile Court Records or Welfare and Institutions Code § 781.

Los Angeles County Arrest Warrants

An arrest warrant is a written directive signed by a magistrate or judge. It permits a peace officer to arrest a suspect.

Normally, law enforcement in Los Angeles County can execute arrests with or without a warrant (Cal. Pen. Code § 836). A warrantless arrest can be justified where probable cause exists, for instance, when the crime occurs in the presence of a police officer. However, in many cases, the investigating officer will request an arrest warrant from the court. To obtain this warrant, the officer must establish probable cause, usually by submitting a sworn statement ("affidavit") to a magistrate or judge. Nonetheless, an arrest warrant can also be issued upon a grand jury indictment or when a city or district attorney files a criminal complaint after reviewing a police report.

Per Cal. Pen. Code § 815, a Los Angeles County arrest warrant carries the following details:

  • The defendant's name
  • The time the warrant was issued
  • The city or county of issuance
  • The defendant's alleged crime
  • The issuing authority's signature and title of office
  • The issuing court or agency
  • The bail amount

Los Angeles County Arrest Warrant Search

Individuals generally have two options to find an active warrant in Los Angeles County.

They can appear in person with a photo ID at a local police department or sheriff's station. Warrant information is not usually released over the phone, and the county has no centralized law enforcement database for online warrant searches.

Alternatively, an individual can contact or visit the Los Angeles County Superior Court to find out if an arrest warrant was issued for a case. Also, the court offers various online case access services that the public can use. Typically, a person only needs a name or case number for an online search.

Do Los Angeles County Arrest Warrants Expire?

No. Once an arrest warrant has been issued in Los Angeles County, it remains active until the subject voluntarily surrenders, is apprehended, or dies. Notwithstanding, the court may quash or recall a warrant upon a party's motion that the warrant is illegal or invalid.

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