What is an arrest record?
In the state of Louisiana, the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information is charged with the management and maintenance of criminal history records and the dissemination of this data to applicants who are approved by law to receive this information. The Bureau oversees various systems that are used to store data assimilated from justice agencies across the state.
The Automated Fingerprint Identification System: This is an automated storage system that is used to store and maintain fingerprint scans collected at the time of arrest and integrate them with computer criminal history information and mug shots. The AFIS is known to provide positive, real time identification quickly and accurately.
The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information not only sets quality control standards but also offers the technical assistance required to maintain such a large repository. Currently, the AFIS is fed information from over 100 booking facilities across Louisiana and several remote sites that support these live scan stations.
The Louisiana Computerized Criminal History system: Another system maintained and managed by the Bureau, the LACCH not only contains information on suspects and criminals in "Wanted Lists" from all precincts but also had details on people who have applied for certain employment opportunities that call for a background check including fingerprint identification. Information stored in the LACCH includes arrest and disposition details along with incarceration related data.
Justice agencies operating in the state of Louisiana can access all the information stored in the LACCH system electronically through the LEMS (Louisiana Law Enforcement Switch) which helps in the realization of the primary objective of the system-an accurate source of information on all criminal activities that have occurred in the state which can be accessed by all criminal justice agencies.
Apart from these two systems the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information also maintains a sex offender registry which serves as a state wide repository for information on sexually violent and convicted child predators. The data on this system is collected and maintained as per federal and state laws and disseminated in the interest of public safety.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections supplies information to this database which is then posted on their website. From here, it can be accessed by legal as well as non-justice agencies and individuals. The Bureau also handles court directives for the expungement of records and makes the necessary changes required to seal or completely destroy certain pieces of information.
What is an arrest warrant?
Arrest warrants are issued in the state of Louisiana on the basis of the Criminal procedure Code of the state. In the law relating to police detention with a judicial order, a warrant is defined as a court directive to take the person in whose name it has been issued into custody. A warrant for arrest can only be issued by the magistrate of a criminal court when:
- A member of the a law enforcement or justice agency or the victim of a crime executes a formal complaint through an affidavit that specifies the nature, date and place of the criminal incident to the best of the knowledge of the complainant. This writ also needs to mention the name of the offender and the victim or any other individual who may have been injured as a result of the crime.
- The magistrate establishes probable cause to believe that a criminal act was indeed committed and the person against whom the complaints is being made was responsible for the incident
The magistrate cannot issue a warrant against a police officer who has performed acts that are well within the scope of his duties. Also, such an order of arrest will not be issued against the administrator or the teacher of a school (public, elementary or private) or any other educational institution including college, technical school etc, unless the magistrate conducts an independent investigation into the accusations being levied against the person in these positions.
A warrant of arrest is always a written document granted in the name of the state of Louisiana; all such arrest orders will have a mention of the date of warrant issue and the name of the county in which the order was released.
The name of the person to be arrested and the offense for which he is being charged are also stated along with the basis on which the order was issued. All warrants are duly signed by the magistrate and will have a clear order for law enforcement officials to arrest the individual in question and bring him/her before the court. In case of noncapital offenses, a bail amount may also be specified; however, this is not a legal mandate.
When making an arrest with a warrant in hand, the peace officer has to inform the suspect that such an order has been issued against him unless the accused is taken into custody after a pursuit. Law enforcement officials can also forgo this formality if the act of giving this information will hamper arrest. While the officer need not have the warrant in his possession when making the arrest, the order will have to be produced once the suspect is detained and requests for it.
If an arrest is made by virtue of a warrant issued in another county, the person who has been taken into custody will be detained in the parish that he was arrested till such time that he posts bail or is transferred to the county where he/she committed the crime. However, a person who is awaiting transfer to the parish where the warrant was issued cannot be detained for more than ten days.
How to search for an inmate in the Louisiana Jail & Prison system?
Till about 2009, inmate information was considered confidential in the state of Louisiana and was only disseminated to members of justice agencies. However, for the last 3 years these are being made available freely to the public. Users can get information on inmates incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities as well as details about people who are being held back in municipal and parish detention centers.
For county specific information, you will need to get in touch with the local Sherriff’s department while the Louisiana Automated Victim Notification System can be used for searching through both the state and parish level facilities. Two options are available for individuals who seek inmate information in Louisiana:
The Louisiana Automated Victim Notification System: This database can be accessed online or you could get in touch with them by calling on 866-528-6748. For an online search, open the webpage at: vinelink.com/vinelink/siteInfoAction.do?siteId=19000. Click on the tab that reads "search and register" at the top of your screen.
The action will lead you to another page; choose the option "all agencies" here and enter all relevant information about the inmate you are looking for such as the first and last name of the individual and his/her inmate ID. A partial name will also work, if you don’t have all the details. Ancillary information like the date of birth of the subject will help to narrow down your search. As a final step, click on the button that says "search" and you will be directed to the results page.
Once here, simply scroll down the list of names and find the person you are looking for; you will see the name of correctional facility that he/she is being held in. Clicking on the "reporting agency" link will get you the name, address and contact number of the detention center.
Using the Offender Locator System: This is a simpler and faster system for locating inmates that can be accessed through a regular or cell phone Line. Keep the Department of Corrections (DOC) identification number of the offender handy before starting your search.
If you do not have information on the DOC Number, you will at least need to know the date of the birth and the name of the criminal. Dial 225-383-4580 any time of the day or night and use your keypad to dial in the DOC number or the name and date of birth of the inmate you are looking for. This will give you access to the address and name of the facility that he/she is incarcerated in along with their address and telephone numbers and the release date of the inmate.
The Offender Locator System is available round the clock and the database is updated every day, so people can get accurate information not only on criminals who are being handled by the Louisiana Department of Corrections and have DOC number but also on individuals under parole or probation.
Who can search for arrest records and warrants in Louisiana and how?
The state of Louisiana follows the closed record system which means that criminal history information is not freely accessible to members of the public. In fact, arrest records related data can only be released to agencies and entities listed in the Louisiana Codes of Criminal Procedure RS 15:587.
Neither the State Police Department nor the Bureau of Crime Identification and Information is authorized to disseminate crime records data for the purpose of work permits, checks before renting properties, immigration or individual inquiries.
Under the provisions of RS 15:58, non government and justice agencies that are allowed access to crime history information only include establishment that offers supervisory services for children and/re disabled adults, hospitals, department of children and family services and any agencies working for them, department of insurance and any commercial entities that are associated with them, the state racing commission, the Senate, the Louisiana Workforce commission, the office of the governor and the Louisiana State Bar association.
Arrest records data will also be provided to the state board of private security examiners and the private investigator examiners. Victims of criminal incidents are also allowed access to this information. For all other inquiries, the applicant will need to have a written authorization from the subject of such an investigation which allows the applicant to conduct a background check.
A fee of $26 will be charged for services rendered and the inquirer of such information will have to follow the background check process as regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA not only regulates the workings of government agencies in the matter of crime history data dissemination but also third party vendors who may offer this information.
Part 615 of FCRA, Code of Federal Regulations further states that if the information thus obtained leads to an adverse decision against the subject of the inquiry, the organization that requested the screening is legally obligated to notify the person in question, informing him/her of the decision and the information in the background check report that led to it along with the reporting agency that offered the data. Any correspondence to this effect should also apprise the recipient of his/her rights to see a copy of the screening report.
Third party vendors are restricted from issuing any health related information on the subject which may impact decision to extend credit or employment to the person about whom the inquiry is being conducted. Also, according to the FCRA, certain records can only be held back in the system for a period of 7 years after which they cannot be released in regular background screening reports. These include civil suits and litigations, tax liens that were paid and records of arrest. However all information pertaining to criminal convictions will be reported indefinitely.
How to request records under the Louisiana specific laws, freedom of information?
Entities that are approved by law to receive information on criminal history in the state of Louisiana can enlist the help of two informative sources for their screening checks: the Louisiana State Police Department and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information. The state police department will forward any inquiries for background checks to the Bureau.
The Louisiana State Police Department:
They can be approached through their website or through their physical address which can be used for mailing duly filled information request forms at:
- Mailing address: P O Box 66614 Mail slips A-6 , Baton Rouge LA 70896
- Physical address: 7919 Independence Blvd, Baton Rouge LA 70806
The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information: To contact the Bureau for a background check you can either mail in your request forms or submit them online at lsp.org/technical.html; the web page has links to all the forms that you will need to fill for a screening report. The physical mailing address of the Bureau is the same as that of the State Police Department.
The State Police Department and the Bureau offer both name checks as well as finger print inquiries. While the former is priced at $10, applicants will be charged $26 for finger print checks. For appropriate entities that are authorized by law to receive such information, these agencies also offer combination state and FBI background reports for a processing fee of $42.50.
All applicants will need to fill the Authorization and General Disclosure forms when seeking such information. Any entity that is requesting such information for the state board of medical examiners or nursing examiners or the ABC board will also have to submit the Rap disclosure sheet.
The state of Louisiana does not offer criminal history related data to members of the public unless they were the victims of a crime. Generally, only regulatory organizations, licensing authorities, agencies in health and Medicare and the gaming industry are allowed access to this information. So, if you are looking for an individual background check on an acquaintance, you will have to enlist the help of a third party vendor. However, the state laws do allow people to obtain a certified copy of their personal crime records by visiting the justice agency at 7919 Independence Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.