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San Diego County Arrest Records

In San Diego County, peace officers have the legal authority to make arrests in specific circumstances, such as when a person is observed committing a crime, when probable cause exists to believe someone committed a crime, or when an individual is the subject of an arrest warrant

Generally, when law enforcement personnel apprehend an individual in San Diego County, they are often transported to a jail facility, where they will be held until trial or released on bail pending trial. Before then, the arrestee will undergo a booking process where their personal information is recorded, their mugshots are taken, and their fingerprint impressions are noted (if applicable) and forwarded to the State Department of Justice. The information obtained during the booking process forms a significant part of what is referred to as an arrest record, which is typically maintained by the law enforcement agency that made the arrest.

San Diego arrest records are essential for tracking a subject's criminal history and facilitating the prosecution of cases. Notably, San Diego County court records often include arrest information when used at a trial or presented as evidence in court.

Are Arrest Records Public in San Diego County?

Yes, arrest records are public records in San Diego County, by virtue of the California Public Records Act (PRA). Per the Act, members of the public have the right to inspect and copy arrest records that are in the custody of their legal custodians, except if an applicable law exempts them from public disclosure. Exceptions to California’s public records law include:

  • Information regarding the arrest of a juvenile
  • Certain information concerning victims of a crime
  • Identifying information about a confidential informant
  • Details of a pending litigation
  • Information that amounts to a breach of privacy and threatens public safety
  • Medical files
  • Law enforcement investigatory files
  • Specific identifying information including social security numbers, phone numbers, and driver’s license

What Do Public Arrest Records Contain?

A San Diego County public arrest record typically contains the subject’s name, occupation, and physical description. Other information that is included in an arrest record includes:

  • Date and time of the arrest
  • Location of the arrest
  • Charges
  • Circumstances surrounding the arrest
  • Bail amount
  • Time and manner of release
  • Name of the holding facility

San Diego County Crime Rate

The Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC)’s Open Justice Portal report for 2022 reveals that San Diego County had 12,496 violent crimes, 52,736 property crimes, and 427 arson offenses. Of the reported violent crimes for the same year, the most common crimes were larceny-theft (32,965) followed by motor vehicle theft (12,215), aggravated assault (8,972), and burglary (7,556).

San Diego County Arrest Statistics

The BSCC’s Arrest Statistics for 2022, show that San Diego County made 16,798 felony arrests and 38,523 misdemeanor offenses, totaling 55,321 arrests. Violent offenses accounted for 5,115 arrests while there were 3,686 arrests for property crimes. Other arrest statistics were:

  • Drug offenses (1,413)
  • Sex offenses (245)
  • Other offenses (6,321)
  • Misdemeanors (38,523)

The county recorded no status offenses for the year.

Find San Diego County Arrest Records

Individuals can search San Diego County arrest records by contacting the local law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Since different agencies may have varying procedures for obtaining these records, parties are advised to confirm the specific requirements before submitting their requests. Oftentimes, information regarding the processes for obtaining arrest records is provided on the agency's official website.

For example, the City of Carlsbad Police Department requires individuals to call (442) 339-2119 and provide a case number to search a subject's arrest report. They are also to allow 1-3 days processing time for obtaining arrest records. On the other hand, arrest reports generated by the San Diego Police Department can be obtained by sending a mail with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:

SDPD Records MS#726
P.O. Box 121431
San Diego, CA 92112

Alternatively, they can visit the department in person during regular business hours at:

SDPD Records Division
1401 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92102

Fees for obtaining copies of arrest records may also differ across law enforcement agencies. For example, while Carlsbad Police Department arrest reports cost $13 per report, the fee is 50 cents for reports generated by the San Diego Police Department.

Meanwhile, arrest records of individuals who were arrested by state or federal law enforcement agents in San Diego County can be obtained through any of the methods below:

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The Federal Inmate Locator is a valuable tool for searching arrest records of individuals who are in federal custody. This includes those who were arrested by the FBI. Parties are to provide specific information about the record (such as name and number) to locate the facility holding the suspect. Next, they are to contact the facility for further instructions on how to facilitate their search request.
  • The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Arrest records of persons detained by ICE can be found on the Online Detainee Locator System. If this yields no result, they are advised to query a local field office or visit the ICE detention facility where the subject of the record is held for more information.
  • A State Agency: If a state law enforcement agency conducted the arrest, the searcher should approach the San Diego Sheriff’s Office for the subject’s arrest information. For individuals who are incarcerated in state prisons, they may query the California Incarcerated Records and Information Search (CIRIS).

Free Arrest Record Search in San Diego County

Free San Diego County arrest record searches can be conducted through a public records request to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. This can be done by:

  • Generating a Public Records Center request
  • Submitting a request to the Sheriff’s station or substation that generated the arrest report
  • Filling and submitting a Service Request Form to the Records & ID Division of the San Diego Sheriff’s Office in person, and during business hours, at the location below:

9621 Ridgehaven CT
San Diego, CA 92123

Alternatively, searchers can submit the request by mail to:

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
Attention: Records & ID Division
Cases Section
P.O. Box 939062
San Diego, CA 92193-9062

Persons conducting a physical arrest record search will be required to submit a valid government identification card at the location. Searchers by mail must submit a copy of the ID along with their application. More information about conducting a CPRA arrest record search can be obtained from the Sheriff’s Department Crime, Arrest, & Accident Reports page. Also, while inspection of documents is free of charge, fees are attached to copies and reproductions of arrest records.

Another option for conducting no-cost arrest record searches in San Diego County is to access the free online lookup tools made available by various law enforcement agencies in the county. For example, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office Who’s In Jail search page grants parties free access to arrest information for the county after inputting the subject’s first and last names. Another example is the Chula Vista Police Department’s arrest record lookup page which reveals a list of current inmates in its city jail.

Lastly, searchers may look to third-party websites for San Diego arrest record information. Numerous online databases maintained by private companies source arrest records from various government agencies and allow members of the public to access their repositories for free. However, users often have to subscribe to these services for a fee to obtain comprehensive arrest information.

Get San Diego County Criminal Records

San Diego criminal records (also summary criminal history information) refer to documents and case files that detail a person’s criminal background or history, including the subject’s criminal charges, arrest records, convictions, and sentences. In other words, they are a compilation of a person’s arrests and prosecutions within San Diego County, which are generated and can be obtained from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. However, per California Penal Code sections 13300 through 13326, only subjects of a record, persons who have obtained consent from the subject of the record, and a few authorized personnel are granted access to San Diego criminal records.

Local summary criminal history records are often requested as part of a criminal background check or to obtain a “No Record” letter. Individuals can get a copy of their local criminal history record by filling out and submitting a Service Request Form by email to Alternatively, they submit a request or visit the San Diego County Sheriff’s Records & ID office (as discussed under “Free Arrest Record Search in San Diego County” above). Requests will typically be processed within 3 to 10 business days.

Note: Parties can also obtain their local summary criminal history records by querying the local law enforcement agencies responsible for the arrest, especially if they fall outside the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. For a copy of a statewide criminal history record, parties should contact the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

San Diego County Arrest Records Vs. Criminal Records

Criminal records and arrest records are often used interchangeably to refer to documentation of a person’s criminal interactions with various criminal justice entities. However, a slight but essential difference lies between both concepts.

San Diego County criminal records detail a person’s dealings with the entire criminal justice system, beginning from the point of arrest to the final resolution of the case. In other words, they record an individual’s criminal journey across police stations, courts, and corrections facilities.

On the other hand, arrest records are restricted to documents regarding the detention of an individual by law enforcement agents. They do not include records about court proceedings, convictions, and interactions with other criminal justice entities beyond the arresting agency.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

Generally, arrest information, including dismissed and acquitted charges will remain on a person’s criminal record permanently. Parties can only remove their arrest information from public access by taking action to have them dismissed. However, various law enforcement agencies have retention schedules for preserving arrest records in their custody.

Expunge San Diego County Arrest Records

When an individual successfully expunges an arrest record, it means that the record will be completely erased and deemed to have never existed. California does not offer this kind of relief to persons with criminal records. Instead, arrest records can only be sealed while convictions may be dismissed. Dismissal of a record is what is often referred to as expungement in San Diego County

A sealed arrest record means that an individual’s arrest information will no longer be accessible to the public and only a few government agencies, such as law enforcement, will be able to access them at will (Penal Code section 851.91). To be eligible for sealing under this law, the following situations should apply:

  • The subject of the record was arrested but had no charges filed against them
  • Where they were arrested and charged, the case ended in a dismissal
  • The subject of the record has completed a diversion program and their charges have been dismissed
  • They completed the Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) and had their charges dismissed
  • The case went to trial but they were found factually innocent or not guilty

To seal an arrest record in San Diego County, the subject of the record is to fill and submit a Petition to Seal Arrest and Related Records (Form CR-409) to an appropriate court in the county. Individuals can access the Judicial Council of California’s Cleaning Up Your Record page for more information on sealing arrest records.

On the other hand, a dismissal of a criminal record limits the information that will be disseminated to members of the public. Instead of an expungement that completely erases the record, a dismissed criminal record will remain on your criminal record. However, the court will re-open the individual’s case and withdraw the finding of guilt, replacing it with a “not guilty” plea. The case will then be dismissed even if it will still be visible to the public.

The effects of a dismissed criminal record include:

  • A fresh entry in the court record showing that the case is dismissed
  • The individual can deny the conviction during some job applications
  • The conviction will be discovered if the individual applies for a government job; in such cases, they can disclose the conviction, but also state that it was dismissed
  • The dismissed record can be used to prove rehabilitation
  • The individual will be eligible for a federal student loan if it was once denied as a result of a drug conviction
  • The subject of the record will not be stopped from being a valid witness unless they are under trial for another offense

To be eligible for a dismissal, the subject of the record must have completed probation after a misdemeanor or felony conviction

For individuals convicted of a misdemeanor and were denied probation or who have an infraction conviction, they must:

  • Wait for a year after conviction before applying for a record dismissal
  • Not be on any type of supervision, including probation, or be serving a jail term for another offense
  • Not be facing charges for another offense

For persons who were convicted of a felony and served a jail term in a local prison or county jail, they must:

  • Wait a year after completing a “split” sentence or mandatory supervision to apply
  • Wait two years after completing a “straight” sentence before application
  • Not be under any form of supervision or be serving a sentence
  • Not be currently charged with another crime

The process for dismissing a criminal record in San Diego County includes completing a Petition for Dismissal form and submitting it, along with supporting documents, to the Superior Court that convicted the subject of the record. The prosecuting agency will also be served with the petition. If the case is a misdemeanor, there will be no hearing. More information on dismissing criminal records can be found on the San Diego County’s Public Defender’s FAQ page.

Note: Per California’s Clean Slate Act (AB 1076 or Penal Code 1076 PC), some arrest records may be sealed automatically after meeting certain criteria. This means that the subject of the record will not need to take any steps to clear their records to have them removed from public access.

Also, juvenile records will be eligible for sealing as of the subject’s 18th birthday. More information can be obtained from the Sealing Juvenile Records page.

San Diego County Arrest Warrants

San Diego County arrest warrants are court-issued documents that give a law enforcement officer the authority to arrest an individual. Arrest warrants are often granted when there is probable cause to believe that a person of interest has committed a crime. This is often the approach police officers take to apprehend a person that was not caught committing an offense in their presence.

Individuals who discover that they are at a warrant can address it by appearing before a judge. Then, a hearing date will be fixed to determine the matter. Otherwise, they will have to wait to be apprehended by law enforcement agents and brought into the sheriff's custody. More information on arrest warrants can be obtained from the sheriff's Arrest and Warrant page.).

San Diego County Arrest Warrant Search

To find an active warrant in San Diego County, individuals should access the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department online warrant system. Upon accessing the lookup tool, they will be able to search outstanding arrest warrants using the subject’s last, first, and middle names.

Individuals may also search San Diego arrest warrants by contacting the Department’s warrant office at (858) 974-2110. On the call, they are to provide the subject’s first and last name, date of birth, and warrant number, if they have it.

For written responses to local warrant checks, the requester can fill and submit a Service Request Form to the San Diego County Sheriff's Records & Division in person during normal office hours or via mail.

It costs $14 to obtain a written response to a warrant check. The Department accepts cash payments. More details on obtaining warrant information can be found on the Sheriff's Department Warrant Information page.

Do San Diego County Arrest Warrants Expire?

No. A valid arrest warrant in San Diego County will continue to be enforceable until the purpose for issuance is achieved or no longer necessary. This is when the subject of the record has been apprehended or turned themselves in to the authorities.

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