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Delaware Arrest Records

Delaware arrest records are official documents or reports that law enforcement officials generate in the course of an arrest. These arrest records often contain vital information about a person’s arrest, such as a detailed account of the event, likely charges, and outstanding warrants (if any). However, an arrest record is not the same as a Delaware criminal record because it doesn’t always mean that the record subject is guilty of the crime.

In Delaware, arrest records are public records, accessible to the public, on-demand. State courts, police departments, and other government agencies maintain arrest records, and interested persons may apply to get copies from these agencies. Delaware laws also allow the sealing of eligible arrest records or a total sealing from public access.

Delaware Arrest Statistics

The Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) in Delaware provides Criminal Justice Agencies, the Governor, Legislature, and other interested persons, with crime data. It releases an annual ‘Crime in Delaware’ report with data derived from the Delaware Criminal Justice Council, State Bureau of Identification (SBI), and Delaware Population Consortium. The SBI unit of the Delaware State Police draws up official statistics of offense, clearance, arrest, and crime against law enforcement officers. On the other hand, the population consortium gathers state and county population figures for more accurate calculations.

Last updated in 2019, the report presents data on serious crimes reported to Delaware law enforcement agencies, including state, county, and local police agencies. It also provides data on the 24 Group A Offenses reported in Delaware’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). These offenses include drug/narcotic offenses, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, etc. Data provided in the report reflects only serious crimes that were reported to the police or that the police have observed. Many serious crimes go undetected or unreported for months or years after they occur. As a result, the figures in the report are considered a floor estimate.

In 2019, Delaware recorded a total of 75,348 reported offenses, showing a 56.1% increase. A breakdown of this data reveals that there were 18,306 violent offenses (18.8% of every 1000 persons in Delaware), 23,420 property offenses (23.5% of every 1000 persons in Delaware), and 11,940 drug offenses (13.6% of every 1000 persons in Delaware). Statewide, there were 22,456 official arrests reported in Delaware, with 8,699 arrests for violent offenses, 5,508 for property offenses, and 4,807 for drug offenses. A breakdown of this arrest data reveals 20,078 adult and 2,378 juvenile arrests.

The FBI presents a more recent data set through its crime data explorer. It estimated 2020 Delaware crime statistics based on data received from 62 law enforcement agencies in the state. According to the report, there were 3,350 violent crime incidents and 4,383 offenses reported in Delaware. FBI arrest data for the year 2020 was gathered from 54 out of 62 total law enforcement agencies in the state. The data reports 17,610 males and 7,031 female arrests that year, with 5,392 arrests for simple assault, 1,390 for aggravated assault, and 315 for robbery.

What is an Arrest Record in Delaware?

A Delaware arrest record is the official documentation of a person’s criminal activities. These records are considered public records and, as such, are available for public viewing at many government agencies. Some of these agencies are the Delaware State, County, and local law enforcement offices. The Delaware Police Departments and Delaware Criminal Courts also maintain arrest records, warrants, and mugshots.

What is Contained in an Arrest Record?

Delaware arrest records typically contain the following information:

  • A physical description of the suspect
  • The suspect’s personal information
  • Booking information of the suspect
  • The details of the arrest
  • The name and signature of the arresting officer
  • Information on the police investigation concerning the arrest
  • The name of the issuer of the arrest warrant that led to the arrest

Are Arrest Records Public in Delaware?

Yes, arrest records are public in Delaware! The Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) makes arrest records available to the public. At the county level, interested persons can run an arrest search at the sheriff or police department. Meanwhile, at the state level, such persons may view public arrest records by requesting criminal records from the SBI.

Who Can Access Arrest Records?

Like in most states, arrest records are public records in Delaware and are accessible by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency. Some persons who may want to access arrest records are family members who want to provide bail assistance to the arrested person. Other interested parties apart from personal relations are an employer, potential landlord, insurance company, or government agency. However, the right to access public arrest records is not absolute in Delaware, as there are circumstances where the law may shield arrest records from the public. Some of these circumstances are where it may interfere with an ongoing investigation or reveal a confidential source. It may also come up during a routine background check.

How Do I Lookup Someone’s Arrest Records in Delaware?

Arrest records in Delaware are obtained by first requesting a criminal background check from the Delaware State Bureau of Identification. However, in Delaware, it is not possible to get another person’s records from the SBI, as the procedure requires the physical presence of an applicant. To get the record, the applicant must visit any of the three SBI locations in the state. For locations in Sussex and New Castle County, the interested person must schedule an earlier appointment.

Upon getting to the SBI office, the applicant must complete and submit a ‘Criminal History Record Check Authorization Form.’ A valid driver’s license, state ID, or other photo identification is also required, alongside a $52 fee. Payment may be made using debit or credit cards, certified checks, company checks, money orders, or cash (except in Sussex).

Juveniles may also follow the same procedure to conduct a criminal history check. However, such juveniles must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to the SBI office. A school ID is a sufficient means of identification for a minor with no required means of identification.

Results of the check may most likely not come in the same day, but the agency will return it as soon as possible. An alternative way of checking for Delaware arrest records is through the court system, police department, or third-party sites.

How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Delaware

A subpoena or duces Tecum in Delaware is a court order that compels a person to produce certain documents vital to a court case. The need to subpoena an arrest record does not arise in many cases. However, sometimes it is necessary for the interest of justice.

For instance, while an arrest record is a public record, the public may have limited access to it. Some information contained on the record may be confidential and exempt from public access.

These exempt information include trade secretes, social security numbers, financial information, and other information that may breach privacy. When confidential information is part of an arrest record, the record may only be available to authorized personnel like law enforcement agencies.

However, suppose the arrest record is needed or is a vital part of an ongoing criminal justice process, as a court case. In that case, an interested party may subpoena the agency holding the record to produce it in court. Typically, a subpoena lists the particular documents needed and the date, time, and venue of the presentation. A person above 18 who is not a party to the matter may serve a subpoena. The procedure for service involves delivering copies to the named party in person, at the residence, or any other place in Delaware. While courts may often grant a subpoena order, the court will decline if the grounds are not reasonable.

How to Search for an Inmate in the Delaware Prison System

The Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) operates a unified correctional system that oversees all correctional facilities and institutions in the state. Yet, the department does not provide a direct online inmate search service. The Delaware Inmate Locator Page provides interested persons with an external link that provides details on specific inmates. The interested party must provide the inmate’s name, date of birth, or identification number to aid this search. Also, the searcher may register to get notifications on the inmate’s status while in Delaware DOC custody.

How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Delaware

Since there is no official repository for inmate information in Delaware, it is hard to tell if a person went to jail or not. Interested persons may have to conduct a background check to access this information. Only a person’s criminal history record can reveal if the person was in a Delaware jail. Alternatively, interested persons may check with the court’s record custodian to see the judgment delivered on a matter and whether the search subject was sentenced to jail time.

How Long Do Delaware Arrest Records Stay on File?

Delaware has retention schedules that determine how long a record should remain on file. Section 524, Chapter five of Title 29 of the Delaware Code, empowers the Delaware Public Archives to create records retention schedules that specify the minimum length of time that various agencies in the state may retain records. According to the general state record retention schedule, Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) which includes arrest, detention, sentencing, and other criminal information, will be retained for five years.

Under the ‘local government general records retention schedule,’ criminal history record information must also be retained for five years. While local government records retention schedules apply to county and municipal government agencies, state agency general records retention schedules apply to official state boards, the executive, judiciary, and legislative agencies.

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?

The first difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant is that one comes before the other. Typically, courts issue arrest warrants before an arrest, and an arresting officer generates an arrest record after an arrest. The arrest record presents a detailed report of the arrest and the surrounding details, the arresting officer’s name and signature, the offender’s name, address and contact details, etc.

On the flip side, an arrest warrant is only issued where the court finds probable cause for one. So, when an officer requests a warrant from the court, the officer must support the request with an affidavit showing the probable cause. Only judges and magistrates can issue arrest warrants. These warrants ensure that Delaware law enforcement officers carry out official functions without infringing on the arrestee’s rights.

What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?

Arrest and criminal records in Delaware are essential parts of the state’s criminal justice system. While these records may have similar and overlapping functions, there are clear differences in the composition and use of each. For instance, an arrest record is a report that law enforcement officers generate after an arrest, detailing important information about the arrest. However, while an arrest record is part of a person’s criminal record, it is not the entire record.

Criminal records are more detailed and are most certainly proof of guilt. A person may be arrested and released without charge or conviction, but a criminal record contains charges and convictions of persons found guilty by Delaware courts. So, while a person may have an arrest record without a criminal conviction, persons without criminal convictions or charges do not usually have criminal records.

How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Delaware?

Delaware allows for different ways to obtain arrest records through various government agencies in the state. However, these agencies do not offer free arrest records. Still, the person requesting the service may ask for a record custodian’s fee waiver policy ( if any is available) to access the records for free.

How to Search for a Delaware Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service

Tracking down copies of Delaware arrest records may pose a challenge for many people. So, searching for these records online is often a viable option. There are a lot of online third-party services that allow individuals to search and access Delaware arrest records and other public records via various government agency databases in exchange for a fee.

Users may often have to pay a fee for these services, either a one-time payment or subscription model. Despite this, it is still a convenient means of getting these documents. Government offices may have inconsistent service and take time to process requests to view these documents. It is sometimes worth paying a small fee to use a third-party search service rather than endure the typical delay with government agencies.

What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?

Individuals who believe that there are mistakes on their arrest records may make official requests to correct those mistakes. The proper procedure is first to request a Delaware Criminal History Record Check Authorization Form and challenge the accuracy of the record with the specific agency responsible for maintaining and disseminating the information. For specific information on further proceeding with the challenge process, interested persons may contact the State Bureau of Identification at (302) 739-5884. Such individuals may also visit the Bureau in person at its new location; 600 S. Bay Road Suite 1, Dover, DE 19901 (across the highway from its previous office).

How to Expunge Arrest Records in Delaware

A good person may sometimes make mistakes and poor decisions that result in a criminal arrest record. It may be a one-time minor lapse in judgment and emotional response during a dispute or a serious accusation. No matter the issue, an arrest record may hurt a person’s ability to get a job or get into college. Even years after the arrest and after the arrestee has led a law-abiding life, the person may not fully escape the consequences of the arrest record. So, many people try to erase these records by applying to expunge these records.

A Delaware expungement is how law enforcement agency records and court records relating to a case are shielded from the public gaze. Subchapter VII, Chapter 43 of Title 11 of the Delaware Code guides the process of applying for an expungement of an adult record. There are two types of expungements in Delaware - the first is a mandatory expungement, and the second is discretionary. Mandatory expungements in Delaware are handled by the State Bureau of Identification which grants this kind of expungement in the following circumstances:

  • Where a person is charged with one or more felony, misdemeanor, or violation charges and the case was terminated in the person’s favor. Termination, in this case, means that the person was acquitted of all charges, a nolle prosequi was entered on all charges, all charges were dismissed, etc.
  • The SBI may grant mandatory expungements where a person is convicted of one or more violations, and three years have passed since the date of conviction, and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.
  • When five years have passed since a person’s conviction for one or more misdemeanors or violations related to the case, and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.

The second category of expungements in Delaware is discretionary expungement. These are handled by the Superior and Family Court, which will weigh the facts of the case to determine whether the petition should be granted. The court may further choose to hold a hearing to that effect, and a person that does not qualify for a mandatory expungement may qualify for a discretionary expungement. Before petitioning the court for a discretionary expungement, the applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • Three years must have passed from the date of the conviction or release from incarceration, and the person has no other prior or subsequent convictions.
  • Seven years have passed since the conviction or release from incarceration, and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.

After filing a petition for discretionary expungement, the Attorney General’s office has 120 days to file an answer. In that answer, the Attorney General’s office may oppose the request, and the applicant has 30 days to file an answer. The court will then consider both positions before deciding on the petition.

Where necessary, the court may hold a hearing. Suppose after that, the court finds the petition eligible for a discretionary expungement and that the continued issue of the record will cause the petitioner manifest injustice. In that case, it will grant an order expunging the police and court records. Otherwise, the court will deny the petition, usually without a hearing.

If the court grants an order of discretionary expungement, all records relating to the case, including fingerprints and photographs, will be shielded from public viewing. As a result, if a potential employer does a criminal background check through the SBI, there will be no evidence on record.

Delaware also allows for juvenile expungements, which erase juvenile criminal records. It can occur in two ways: an immediate expungement or a Petition for Expungement of a Juvenile Record.

Immediate Expungement: Suppose during family court proceedings, any felony, misdemeanor, or violation case is terminated in favor of a child. In that case, the court may, on the request of any party, immediately order the expungement of the child’s juvenile criminal history on the request of

Petition for Expungement of a Juvenile Record: Sections 1014-1019, Title 10 of the Delaware Code governs this expungement process. For some juvenile crimes, the expungement is mandatory once the applicant gets a copy of the criminal record from the SBI and files a petition for expungement in Family Court. To qualify for this kind of expungement, the person must not have had an adult conviction or any pending criminal charges. Mandatory juvenile expungements in Delaware only applies to the following:

  • Misdemeanor and violation cases that were terminated in favor of the minor
  • Felony, misdemeanor, and violation cases terminated in favor of the minor, and a year has passed since the felony case was concluded
  • Where the applicant has no more than one felony, misdemeanor, or violation conviction and three years have passed since then

If a person does not qualify for a mandatory expungement, the person may qualify for a discretionary expungement. The applicant must not have an adult conviction or pending criminal charges to qualify for a discretionary juvenile expungement. The person must also not have been found guilty of first and second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, manslaughter, rape, or arson.

A juvenile expungement petitioner may follow the following steps for a successful application:

  • The petitioner must obtain a copy of their Delaware criminal record
  • Review the guide to determine if the charges fall under any of the categories described and meet the criteria for an expungement
  • Complete and file the petition for expungement with the court

However, despite all these, it is not in every case that a person may apply for an expungement in Delaware. The law provides that a person need not apply if the following circumstances exist:

  • A person with pending charges need not apply except the expungement is for an arrest with no charges filed in court within a year of the arrest
  • If the interested person is incarcerated, on parole, or probation, such a person need not apply
  • A person who has received an expungement for a prior conviction within the last 10 years should not apply
  • If the expungement is for a new felony conviction, such an applicant is ineligible
  • A convict that owes fines, fees, or restitution related to the conviction cannot apply
  • An expungement application for Title 21 offenses like reckless driving is not permitted