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Delaware Arrest Records

Delaware arrest records are official documents law enforcement agencies generate during an arrest. Arrest records contain a detailed account of an arrest and the situation leading up to the arrest. Other cogent data such as date, time and location of the arrest, offense committed, and personal information of the offender can also be found in an arrest record.

Arrest records help the government to prosecute crimes, track criminal activities and protect the public from dangerous individuals. They are also used by family members who want to provide bail assistance, by employers during recruitment processes, and by landlords for rental purposes.

However, an arrest record is not the same as a criminal record. A person whose name appears on a criminal record has been proven to have committed an offense. On the other hand, an arrest record does not necessarily mean that the subject is guilty of the crime.

According to the 2022 Crime in Delaware report, 68,461 serious criminal offenses were reported to the police. There were 18,756 arrests for serious offenses statewide. Out of these, 7,581 were for violent offenses, 3,639 for serious property offenses, 4,473 for drug offenses, and 3,063 for other property and social offenses. 

Are Arrest Records Public in Delaware?

Yes. Delaware arrest records are accessible to citizens of Delaware and the general public. The Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees  public access to government records unless prohibited by court statute or order.

Therefore, members of the public can request to inspect or copy arrest records from the appropriate government agencies.

However, the right to access arrest records is not absolute in Delaware. There are exceptions and circumstances where the law may require that certain records be exempted from public disclosure.

The following are the exceptions to Delaware’s FOIA as specified under Del. Code 29 § 10002:

  • Juvenile arrest records.
  • Information related to ongoing law enforcement investigations.
  • Information about witnesses and intelligence personnel involved in an investigation.
  • Records that are specifically exempted from public disclosure by statute or common law.
  • Arrest records that have been sealed or expunged.

What is Included in Delaware Arrest Records?

The specific information contained in arrest records varies based on the arresting agency's booking process. However, Delaware arrest records typically include the following:

  • Suspect’s Personal Information: Full name, date of birth, address, gender, race, sex and physical description of the suspect (eye color, height, weight, etc)
  • Details of the Arrest: Date, time and location of arrest
  • Charges: A description of the individual’s offense(s) and the code of law violated.
  • Booking Information: Date and time of booking, name of arresting officer, arresting agency, and bail information (if applicable)

Find Public Arrest Records in Delaware

There are different methods of obtaining arrest records from local law enforcement agencies in Delaware. Here is a breakdown of what it takes and the steps to follow:

  • Determine Jurisdiction/Record Custodian

Identify the law enforcement agency that handled the arrest. Arrest records may be available at the local police department, county sheriff's office, or the Delaware State Police, depending on where the arrest took place/the arresting agency.

  • Establish Contact with the Record Custodian

Most law enforcement agencies have detailed information on how the public can obtain public records on their websites. In cases where limited or no information is available on the website, inquirers may need to contact the agency to find out the procedures for requesting arrest records and the fees involved.

  • Submit Request

Depending on agency procedures, inquirers may submit a public record request in person, fill out an online request form, or send a request letter via email or by mail. If in-person requests are allowed, the inquirer would be directed to the records departments to fill out a request form with identifying information about the arrested person.

If the request is to be sent by mail, the inquirer can write a formal letter to the law enforcement agency, including all necessary details about the arrest. The letter should be forwarded to the mailing address of the agency with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The same letter can be sent by email if the agency provides that avenue for public records request.

Some law enforcement agencies provide an online public record request form to aid a swift and easy request process. Check the official website of the relevant agency for information on online request procedures.

  • Payment of Fees

There may be costs involved in responding to your request. For example,

  • Serving a Subpoena

If the arrest records are restricted or non-public, inquirers may need a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order that compels a person or organization 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 in the interest of justice.

When confidential information is part of an arrest record, the record may only be available to authorized personnel like law enforcement agencies. To access it for any purpose, inquirers may subpoena the agency holding the record to produce it in court.

A subpoena typically includes specific details about the requested records and the reasons for their necessity. The subpoena is to be filed with the appropriate court and thereafter, served on the custodian of records. While courts often grant a subpoena order, the court will decline if the grounds are not reasonable.

The record custodian is expected to respond within a short time after the subpoena is served. The response may be to provide the requested records or contest the subpoena in court.

How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in Delaware

The State of Delaware has no official online database where inquirers can view arrest records and inmate information. To know if someone was in jail in Delaware, an inquirer may have to conduct a background check with the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). By requesting a copy of the person’s criminal history record, it will be revealed if the individual was previously in a Delaware jail.

Alternatively, inquirers can use third-party platforms to access Delaware arrest records for a fee. Infact, the Delaware Inmate Locator Page directs inquirers to a third party platform to check the status of inmates. To use these platforms, an inquirer must provide the inmate’s name, date of birth, or identification number in the search box provided.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in Delaware

The length of time an arrest stays on an individual’s record is determined by several factors, such as the type of offense and whether the charges were dismissed.

The Delaware Public Archives (DPA) is the authorized institution that sets record retention schedules for state and local government agencies in Delaware. The DPA is empowered by Del. Code tit. 29 § 524 and it provides clear directives on how long an arrest can stay on agency records.

According to the Delaware State Agency General Record Retention Schedule, Criminal History Record Information (CHRI), which includes arrest, detention, sentencing, and other criminal details, must be kept on record for at least five years, unless expunged following due process. Similarly, the Delaware Local Government General Record Retention Schedule also mandates that Criminal History Record Information be kept for five years unless it is legally expunged.

Expunge an Arrest Record in Delaware

An arrest record, regardless of whether a person was convicted or not, can hinder an individual from accessing certain privileges and opportunities throughout their life. Even years after the arrest and after the arrestee has led a law-abiding life, they may not fully escape the consequences of having an arrest record.

According to Del. Code tit. 11 § 4371, expungement of records refers to the complete removal or destruction of all law-enforcement agency records and court records (including electronic records) relating to a case in which an expungement is granted.

There are two types of expungements in Delaware; mandatory expungement, and discretionary expungement.

Mandatory Expungements

This type of expungement is strictly handled by the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) and it is only granted in the following circumstances:

  • When the person was arrested or charged with one or more crimes, and the case was terminated in favor of the accused.
  • If the person was convicted of one or more violations related to the same case, and at least three years have passed since the date of conviction.
  • If five years have passed since the person was convicted of one or more misdemeanors, relating to the same case, and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.
  • If five years have passed since the person was convicted of drug possession, and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.
  • If ten years have passed since the person was convicted of any of the following felonies: miscellaneous drug crimes, unlawful dealing in a counterfeit or purported controlled substance, maintaining a drug property, possession of burglar’s tools or instruments facilitating theft, forgery in the second degree and unlawful use of payment card.

The initial fee for applying for an expungement with the SBI is $72.00. After the applicant's application is reviewed, they will be notified if they are eligible for a mandatory or discretionary expungement. If the applicant qualifies for a mandatory expungement, they must return the signed paperwork within 30 days along with a money order payable to the Delaware State Police for $75.00.

If the applicant does not qualify for a mandatory expungement, they will instead be provided with detailed information on the discretionary expungement process.

Discretionary Expungement

Discretionary expungements are handled by the Superior and Family Court. To expunge arrest records through the court, an individual must petition the appropriate court. The court then determines whether the petition should be granted.

An applicant must, however, ensure that they meet the following conditions before applying for discretionary discretionary expungement:

  • Three years have passed since the person was convicted of crimes other than domestic violence, an offense where the victim is a child or vulnerable adult, sexual harassment, organized retail crime and other similar offenses listed under Del. Code tit. 11 § 4373(b).
  • Seven years have passed since the person was convicted of misdemeanors listed under Del. Code tit. 11 § 4373(b), and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.
  • Seven years have passed since the person was convicted of a felony other than those listed under Del. Code tit. 11 § 4201(c), Del. Code tit. 16 § 1136, Del. Code tit. 31 § 3913 and the person has no prior or subsequent convictions.

The applicant is expected to serve the Attorney General a copy of the petition and wait to hear from the Attorney General. The Attorney General must file an objection or answer to the petition within 120 days, after which the applicant is expected to file a response within 30 days. The court will then consider both positions before deciding on the petition.

The court may decide to hold a hearing but this only happens in rare cases. If the court finds the applicant eligible for discretionary expungement, it will grant an order mandating the appropriate record custodians to expunge the petitioner’s arrest records. Alternatively, the court may deny the petition if the applicant is qualified.

How Do I Find Recent Arrests in Delaware?

In Delaware, information on recent arrests can be obtained by contacting the arresting agency by phone, email, or in  person. Inquirers must provide details about the arrest and arrested person before the request is granted.

If the arrest was carried out by the Delaware State Police (DSP), inquirers can browse through the News Room section of the DSP’s website for information on recent arrests. Similarly, New Castle County publishes press releases of recent arrests on its website. 

Are Delaware Arrest Records Free?

Yes, local law enforcement agencies in Delaware provide the public free access to view arrest records at their respective office locations. However, requesting copies of arrest records from these agencies comes at a cost. Similarly, some external services and third-party websites allow inquirers to view arrest records for free, but they impose a paywall if copies of the records are needed.

Delaware Arrest Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!