Free Washington D.C. Arrests, Criminal Records, & Probation Search

Free District of Columbia Arrest Records & Criminal Records Search
Access District of Columbia Records: background checks, warrants, probation and parole, court records, and all criminal and arrest records.

If you are looking for the best way to search District of Columbia criminal records for free, all the information required to search official agencies is seen below. When searching District of Columbia arrest records and criminal proceedings, there are various ways to locate this information through free online options.

This information is accessible by the public due to the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and Washington, DC’s own Freedom of Information Act (DC FOIA).1, 2

Begin the search today and learn how to find criminal and arrest records through Washington, DC agencies with ease.

Written or authored by Attorney Robert Bailey Jr, who possesses a Juris Doctorate in Law from Widener University School of Law and is a Licensed Attorney.

Are Criminal or Arrest Records Public Information in Washington D.C.?

Yes, and although there are various free public resources to search and contact if someone has a criminal record in Washington, DC, you must know where to look. These databases can be utilized as a criminal and arrest record people finder for individuals in Washington, DC.

These government repositories function as a sort of search engine and are usually the easiest way to find information on daily arrests, past convictions, and other criminal record information. And as seen in the Washington DC public information search process, there are many other types of records that can be accessed as well.

Both Federal and Washington DC’s FOIA laws allow government agencies to provide a public records repository with comprehensive criminal and arrest record information. This access, however, comes with limitations from both local and federal FOIA laws as to when and how certain criminal and arrest records are authorized to be released.

Two primary restrictions are law enforcement records in which their publication may disrupt or impact an active investigation or violate a person’s constitutionally protected rights. Both the local and federal FOIA laws have the same kinds of restrictions when handling the public’s access to either criminal or arrest records.

When beginning your search, it is important to know if you want to look for arrest records or criminal records since different custodians are responsible for these two distinct records.

The two different types of records are usually hosted in their own separate online directory with different processes for how to access them — all of which is covered below.

Access to criminal/arrest records has its limits. For instance, certain sensitive information (e.g., juvenile records) is required to be kept confidential by DC law.3 That means if you want to find out if someone is in jail and they are a minor, you likely will not be able to access this information.

However, DC does provide juvenile arrest record information in a confidential manner through an open data source provided by the local government.4

Another example of records not publicly available is sealed/expunged records. Records can be sealed or expunged with a court order and are allowed for various criminal records we will address in detail later in this article.5

What Information Do Criminal Records vs Arrest Records Provide in Washington D.C.?

Criminal and arrest records share some similar information and some information that is unique to each of these records. Washington DC arrest records are established right after someone has been charged with a criminal offense.

Typical information found on arrest records include the following:

  • Name
  • Birth Date
  • Sex
  • Address
  • Date Arrested
  • Charges
  • Case Disposition (including the reason for the decision)
  • Sentence Date/Length (if applicable)
  • Bail
  • Motions/Appeals
  • Attorney

A criminal record from Washington, DC will show information as far back as when they were arrested through to the most recent court hearing. If the case has been finalized, it will include how the case was decided.

If a person was sentenced to jail or prison, the criminal record would indicate where they were incarcerated and their sentence length.

Criminal Records:

  • Prison Identification Number
  • Name
  • Sex
  • Ethnicity/Race
  • Eye & Hair Color
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Birthdate
  • Admission Date
  • Current Prison/Jail
  • Anticipated Release Date
  • Anticipated Parole Eligibility Date
  • All Past Offenses
  • Mugshot
  • Aliases
  • Incarceration Timeline

How To Find Recent Arrests & Determine Why Someone Is in Jail: Search District of Columbia Arrest Records

There are a couple of ways to find free recent arrest information in Washington, DC. In order to determine if somebody was arrested, you will hopefully have some general information about the person to help your search results.

If you have the individual’s full name, start with that but also gather any additional information that may help you in your search (e.g., birthdate, sex, ethnicity). It is also helpful if you know where the person was arrested and the date (or date range) when they were arrested.

Washington, DC does not have a free online resource for searching arrest reports. Rather, you will have to contact the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), DC’s local law enforcement agency, directly.6 You can call them at (202)727-9099.

Besides local law enforcement, the other option is to obtain arrest information from the local jail. There are only two local jails in DC, the Central Detention Facility (CDF) and Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF), and they also do not have an online search tool. As a result, you will have to contact them directly.

Here is their contact page, address, and phone number:

Jail Contact Information Address Local Jail Office Phone Number
Central Detention Facility 1901 D Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Correctional Treatment Facility 1901 E St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

You can also reach out directly to the DC Department of Corrections, as they oversee these jails. A final option is to use a service provided by VINELink. VINELink is a free service that provides up-to-date information on custody status and criminal cases nationwide.

How To Communicate With a Person in a Washington D.C. Jail & Post Their Bail

If you know someone is incarcerated in a DC local jail, you can start by calling that jail directly. Local jails usually have specific processes for getting in touch with an inmate and posting their bail. The jail should be able to provide you with a specific address for mailing an inmate, visiting houses, and any other communication policies.

DC jails only hold a limited number of inmates, and they are separated between the two facilities. The Central Detention Facility (CDF) only houses male offenders. The jail consists of pre-trial offenders, those sentenced to misdemeanors, and convicted felons that are transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.7

The Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) contains male and female offenders as well as juveniles that are being held as adults.

If the individual is not in either of these jails and the jail is unable to tell you where they are located, you may have to reach out to DC’s criminal division or the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

They may have been transferred to federal prison, and a search of the Federal Prison Bureau may help you locate the individual (more on that later).

The Washington DC Department of Corrections can be contacted at (202)523-7060 for general inmate information. They also provide general information on inmate telephone calls, but access to contact them is dependent on their intake process.8

The Department of Corrections also provides information on how to schedule a visitation or send a letter.

When it comes to bailing an individual out of jail, Washington, DC is unique in that they do not allow for commercial bail. This means they do not have bail bondsmen. To post a bond, you must go in person to the Criminal Finance Office of the Moultrie Courthouse and pay the bond amount with either cash or a money order.9

A screenshot of the Supreme Court bond and collateral list where the user can see the list of specific offenses and their corresponding bond amount.
Source: District of Columbia Courts31

DC Courts does provide a list of standard bond amounts for certain offenses.10

How To Look Up Criminal Records Throughout Washington D.C.

In District of Columbia, criminal records may be accessed through their courts and online access system.

If you are having trouble finding certain records you can always reach out to the DC Clerk of Courts for some assistance. In addition, there are background check services that charge a fee, but these should not be your first options.

Here are the two primary ways to find criminal records in Washington DC:

  • DC Courts – You can go to any DC courthouse (addresses can be found further down in this article) to request criminal records.11
  • DC Courts eAccess – This website is another way to check criminal records by searching criminal cases.12 Washington, DC Courts host both criminal and civil records on the same platform so be sure to filter your search for criminal records.
A screenshot of the DC Courts e-Access website where a user can check criminal records by searching DC criminal cases.
Source: District of Columbia Superior Court32

While they do not have an online search tool you may contact the DC Department of Corrections if you need additional assistance in your search.13 According to their website you can obtain general inmate information by contacting their Department of Records Office at (202)523-7060. 14

Conduct a Criminal Record Search Using the Washington D.C. Clerk of Court

If you know someone was convicted of a crime in Washington, DC, you can start your search online using DC court web portals. While the specific DC criminal division court does not have their own inmate search tool, DC courts have a general search tool that combines both civil and criminal cases.

Online searches may be unsuccessful. Alternatively, you can call or visit the local courthouse in person to search criminal records. When conducting your search through the DC courthouse, you need to figure out how they operate since each courthouse may follow different processes.

Here is the courthouse for the criminal division in Washington, DC with their address and phone number:

Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 202-879-1010

If you still need assistance you can call the DC Clerk of Courts. While they are not the custodian for criminal records, they might direct you as to how best to search for them. The following is the Washington, D.C. Clerk of Court’s contact information:

D.C. Clerk of Court
500 Indiana Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 202-879-1133

Run a Criminal Record Search Using the DC Court’s eAccess System

The easiest way to search all criminal records is through the DC Courts eAccess system.

You can use this system to view all criminal records. The DC Courts eAccess system provides information on all criminal cases in Washington, DC.

A screenshot of the DC Courts eAccess system search results where the user can obtain information on all criminal cases in Washington, DC.
Source: District of Columbia Superior Court33

Follow these steps to use the DC Court’s Public Access system:

  1. Click on the link for the DC eAccess System.
  2. There is a picture with random characters. Type these in the box below and then select “click here.”
  3. Decide to search by either case number or name and click on the corresponding tab.
  4. Enter your search information (e.g., first/last name, birth date, etc.).
  5. Under “Case type” you will want to ensure you select criminal types of cases to narrow your search. To select more than one type of criminal case, hold down “ctrl” as you make your selections.*
  6. Click “search” at the bottom of the screen.
  7. On this page, select the person/case you want to view and click on their link for additional information.
  8. Here you can view all information or select the tabs at the top to get specific information on the party, docket, or disposition of the case.
A screenshot of case information from the DC Courts eAccess system where the user can view all information or select the tabs at the top to get specific information on the party, docket, or disposition of the case.
Source: District of Columbia Superior Court34

*Note: When selecting “case types” you are limited to a maximum of 5 selections.

Obtain District of Columbia Criminal Records via the Department of Corrections (DOC)

The DC Department of Corrections (DOC) handles District of Columbia arrest records but they do not have a search tool to find criminal records in the state, but you can obtain general inmate information if you contact their Department of Records by phone. When calling, be prepared with all information you have on the individual.

This may include their name, DC Department of Corrections inmate ID number, court case number, or MPDC identification number.

They should be able to help you find out someone’s charges in jail, the length of their sentence, and other pertinent information.

How To Get a Copy of Criminal Records Through the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC)

In Washington, DC, you can check if someone has a criminal record (also called a rap sheet) with the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC).15

The MPDC can provide a copy of this information through what they call “Police Clearances (Arrest and Criminal History Section).” These are essentially DC’s version of a background check.

These background checks can be used by individuals vetting and being vetted for things such as employment, adoption, rental application, etc.

The MPDC provides two options for requesting an individual’s criminal records. Option A is for those that are seeking to determine whether or not they are eligible to have their records sealed or expunged. This option provides the broadest criminal records and includes all adult arrests regardless of the current status of the case or how it was decided.

In many cases, an individual will request their criminal record because someone else requested them. For example, an individual may have filled out a job application to be a teacher at the local middle school, and they indicated that they have never been convicted of a crime.

The individual would then request Option B from the MPDC, which can be used for purposes not outlined in the first option. However, the information is much more restrictive and will only include adult convictions for sentences completed less than 10 years from the date of the request.

For either of these options, there is a fee associated with this request (currently $7), and the processing time can take up to 10 business days. Individuals can make an appointment online. When it is time for your appointment, here is their contact information:

MPDC Headquarters
Henry J. Daly Building
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 1075
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: (202)-727-4245

If you would like, you can also contact the records manager by email at or by phone at (202)-715-7539.

In case you are unable to go in person (e.g., live outside the local area) and want to provide a request in writing, the MPDC also provides instructions on their page for how to make a notarized request for a DC Police Clearance.

As discussed, Washington, DC limits these requests for specific purposes. State and federal laws still apply, which means you cannot use these records for professional reasons without getting that person’s consent first. In fact, DC requires the individual to provide the MPDC directly with their authorization for this type of request.

See if Someone Is on Probation or Parole in Washington D.C.

Someone on “probation” has been released from jail (or was merely sentenced to supervision instead of jail time), while someone on “parole” has been released from state or federal prison. Jails are run at the local level (usually for shorter sentences), while prisons are run with by the state or federal government (usually involving lengthier sentences).

To illustrate just how many people are on probation and parole, the following image shows the combined total of probationers and parolees in Washington, DC, along with their ethnicities.

An image showing the map of the District of Columbia or Washington, D.C., with its total population of adult probationers and parolees, with a bar graph on the bottom right corner presenting the number of probationers and parolees by ethnicity.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Washington, DC does not have a specific probation search tool or parolee database. One option is to contact the Washington DC Department of Corrections for general inmate information. You can also contact the Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA).16 They are responsible for managing adults in DC on probation or parole.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provides a search tool for federal criminal records information but not a specific probation or parole search.17 However, the information they provide, such as a recent release, may help determine if someone is likely to be on parole.

A screenshot of the BOP inmate locator offered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where the user can obtain a parolee database to find a subject’s historical parole details at the federal level.
Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons17

Try using the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender website if the person you are searching for was convicted of a sexual crime.18

A screenshot of the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) search tool where registered sex offenders in District of Columbia can also be searched on a national scale by either the subject’s name or location (within a specified radius).
Source: Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website35

This search engine can be used to find offenders by name or location.

Further guidance can be obtained by reviewing the process of tracking down probation details in Washington, D.C., or by checking out the steps for looking up District of Columbia parolees.

Washington DC: How To Seal & Expunge Criminal Records

District of Columbia criminal records are sealed when the information is no longer publicly available. While certain agencies may still have access to this information, it will not be included in the person’s public criminal record. To have criminal records sealed, a request must be submitted to DC’s Criminal Information Office.19

To have records sealed, they must be eligible under the Criminal Records Sealing Act of 2006.20

Whether you qualify depends on numerous factors, such as the type of charge and the disposition of the case. Records can be sealed based on actual innocence or for certain eligible misdemeanors.

An expunged criminal record means that all information has been completely removed, and an individual can proceed as if the conviction never occurred. DC Courts instruct individuals seeking to have their records sealed or expunged to contact the DC Public Defenders Service.

Here are some situations in which you can request your records expunged in DC:

  • Criminal record for Fake ID
  • Juvenile Record
  • Decriminalized Offenses
  • Certain drug convictions

Washington DC: How To Find Somebody in Federal Prison

When looking for someone in a Washington, DC prison, you can contact their Department of Corrections by calling 202-523-7060. You can also use this state departments of corrections tool to check in nearby state prisons.

A screenshot of Washington inmate search tool where the user can search an inmate by name or DOC number.
Source: Washington State Department of Corrections36

Federal prisoners can be found using the Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) Inmate Locator. This tool allows you to search by name, age, race, sex or assigned inmate number (e.g., FBI Number, BOP Register Number, etc.).

How To Run a Warrant Search & Check if Someone Is Wanted in Washington D.C.

Similar to Washington DC arrest records, there is a searchable warrant list or database to find people that have an active arrest warrant.23

You can search this database by name, case, and year. If you are unsure of the individual’s information, you can search manually, as they provide a list of every individual in Washington, DC, with an active warrant.

A screenshot of the Washington, DC warrant list database to find people with an active arrest warrant by searching by name, case, and year.
Source: District of Columbia Courts23

Federal warrants are located on the Warrant Information System (WIN) and are handled by the U.S. Marshall.21

This information is not publicly available and can only be viewed by individuals authorized to use the information as part of their job.21 While you can search the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, the information is limited to active cases.22

It is also important to note that PACER is a paid service.

If you are still looking for information, contact DC’s local law enforcement agency or the clerk of court or follow the steps for obtaining warrant information in Washington, D.C.

Background Checks in Washington D.C. (An Overview)

You may request a background check for many different reasons. Some of these include:

  • Tenant Rental Application
  • Security Clearance Check
  • Employment Application
  • Firearms Purchase
  • Employer compliance with federal and state laws
  • People that work with kids or the elderly
  • Adoption Application

Here is a guide detailing DC’s Metropolitan Police Department background check process and if it’s for a position or license related to health, here is DC health’s background check submission details. Lastly, DC courts also have this handy .pdf with much of the same information.

Professional background checks can be used to verify information that someone has provided or to look deeper into their background. DC explicitly requires criminal background checks for individuals seeking health care licenses, certifications, and registration applications.24

Background checks must be conducted in accordance with federal laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the regulations provided by Equal Employment Opportunity Commision.25, 26 Background checks also have to comply with certain Washington, DC laws.27

These laws prohibit discrimination, unlawful screening and require explicit consent from the person being investigated before someone obtains a background check.

When it comes to background checks, there are 4 basic levels. Level 1 is the most common background check and involves searching an individual’s name (including their SSN to make sure it is the correct person). Level 1 background checks provide criminal and employment records in Washington, DC.

Level 2 background checks search a greater number of local records and broaden the search nationally. Level 2 provides detailed criminal record information, incarceration records, judgments in civil court, and personal information such as a person’s marital status or previous addresses where they lived.

Level 3 and 4 background checks are less common. At Level 3, the background check will include employment and education verification. Level 4 background checks will go as far as screening your overall health and finances.

In Washington, DC, a criminal background check can be requested with the MPDC or the FBI. DC Courts provide step-by-step instructions and the required form for requesting a background check.28

Additionally, personal background checks can be performed without a person’s consent as long as they’re not used to stalk, harass or intimidate another person.

Personal background checks may be done by looking through public criminal records, as detailed above, among other public repositories and third-party providers.

Searching the Sex Offender Registry in Washington D.C.

For information on sex offenders, you can use the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Registry. Or you can use Washington, DC’s sex offender registry for a local search.29

This search allows you to find sex offenders by address, name, or nickname. You can also click on their list of all DC sex offenders.

A screenshot of the Washington, DC’s sex offender registry where the user can find sex offenders by address, name or nickname.
Source: Sex Offender Registry37

Note: These search tools will not show individuals that were convicted of other crimes since this is not a general felony registry.

Washington D.C. Laws About Criminal Records, Arrest Records & Your Rights

There are limited rules to prevent you from conducting your own personal background check. You don’t even need the person’s consent. Just make sure that you do not commit any crimes with the information you find.

Restrictions from federal and local laws are more robust when it comes to professional background checks. No one can lawfully conduct a background check on you without first receiving your permission.

Washington, DC’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides restrictions on information one can search, and additional protection is provided by the  Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment of 2014.30

In addition, this article has outlined how the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provide protection when individuals are subject to a professional background check.

When it comes to your criminal or arrest records, there are ways to protect yourself. Primarily, you can determine whether or not you qualify to have your records sealed or expunged.

Whether you are trying to find District of Columbia criminal records or are concerned about people searching your records, federal and State law can provide protection. When searching for District of Columbia arrest records, use the steps and tools referenced in this article to assist you throughout the process.


1The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. (2022, January 21). Department of Justice. Retrieved May 3, 2023 <>

2Subchapter II. Freedom of Information. (2018, December 20). D.C. Law Library. Retrieved May 8, 2023 <>

3§ 16–2331. Juvenile case records; confidentiality; inspection and disclosure. (2018, December 20). D.C. Law Library. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

4Juvenile Arrests | Juvenile Arrests. (2023). Open Data DC. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

5How do I expunge/seal my record? | District of Columbia Courts. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

6Contact. (2023). Metropolitan Police Department. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

7DOC Frequently Asked Questions | doc. (2023). DC Department of Corrections. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

8Inmate Telephone Services | doc. (2023). DC Department of Corrections. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

9Posting Bond | District of Columbia Courts. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

10Criminal Forms and Lists – Law Enforcement | District of Columbia Courts. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

11DC Courts. (2023). DC Courts Homepage | District of Columbia Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

12eAccess. (2022, February 23). CourtView. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

13DC Department of Corrections. (2023). DC DOC. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

14Locate an Inmate | doc. (2023). DC Department of Corrections. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

15Police Clearances (Arrest and Criminal History Section) | mpdc. (2023). Metropolitan Police Department. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

16Contact Us – CSOSA. (2023). CSOSA. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

17BOP: Federal Inmates By Name. (2023). Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved May 4, 2023 <>

18National Sex Offender Public Website. (2023). United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website. Retrieved May 4, 2023 <>

19Sealing Criminal Records | District of Columbia Courts. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

20Chapter 8. Criminal Record Sealing. (2023). D.C. Law Library. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

21Warrant Information System. (2023). U.S. Marshals Service. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

22PACER. Public Access to Court Electronic Records | PACER: Federal Court Records. Retrieved May 10, 2023 <>

23Active Warrant List | District of Columbia Courts. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

24Criminal Background Check | doh. (2023). DC Health. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

25Fair Credit Reporting Act. (2023). Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved May 4, 2023 <>

26Overview | U.S. (2023). Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved May 4, 2023 <>

27Criminal Background Screening and Employment: Resources for Job Applicants | ohr. (2023). DC Office of Human Rights. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

28How to Obtain Your Criminal Background Check. (2023). DC Courts. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

29Sex Offender Registry. (2023). SexOffender. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

30Subchapter I. Fair Criminal Record Screening. (2018, December 20). D.C. Law Library. Retrieved May 9, 2023 <>

31Superior Court Bond and Collateral List. (2023) District of Columbia Courts. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>

32DC Courts eAccess. (2023) District of Columbia Superior Court. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>

33DC Courts eAccess. (2023) District of Columbia Superior Court. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <*96cxh5Idr38Zl2GkakWvw7Nyo3mI4csHubvqZe*t6LEjmEL1gNT1uNwf4TieDv-PN-63OJI1LIFQ>

34DC Courts eAccess. (2023) District of Columbia Superior Court. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>

35National Sex Offender Search. (2023) Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>

36Inmate Search. (2023) Washington State Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>

37Sex Offender Search. (2023) Sex Offender Registry. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2023 <>