Rap Sheets: Where They Begin and End
Rap Sheets: Where They Begin and End
A Record of Arrest and Prosecution is most commonly known as a RAP Sheet and is a report of the history of arrests attributed to one person based on his or her fingerprints. When a person is fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency, a record is generated and sent to the State central repository. Each state has its own central repository that maintains the arrest and disposition (or outcome) information for cases handled in its own state. (For a list of all state agencies, visit HIRE’s Resources & Assistance section.) When a state repository generates a RAP sheet a state identification number (SID#) is assigned and linked as an identifier for the subject’s fingerprints. However, if someone is convicted in one state and transfers his or her parole or probation sentence to a new state, fingerprints taken when that individual reports to the new state will generate a state RAP sheet.
Some State rap sheets may indicate that the person has a record outside of the State. When a State rap sheet includes an index pointer “III MultiSource” at the top, it signifies that a record is on file with the Interstate Identification Index, the repository maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Every State central repository is required to report its criminal record information to the FBI. Therefore, anyone who has a state identification number also has a FBI identification number and FBI RAP sheet. The FBI identification number becomes a part of that individual’s identification information on his or her State rap sheet.
The FBI reports all information pursuant to individual state laws, not only federal crimes, immigration, and military information. If a record is expunged or sealed pursuant to a State law, the FBI usually adheres to that state’s requirement to suppress or remove information by order of the State central repository. However, sometimes there is a lag in the communication between the state and federal databases. This means that it is not uncommon for errors to appear on the FBI rap sheet.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted, it is important to review your criminal record at both the State and Federal level to ensure they both contain accurate and complete information. Your rap sheet will provide important information such as arrest dates, the arresting agency, arrest charges, court docket or indictment numbers, and most importantly, the disposition or outcome of each of the listed cases.
To obtain a copy of a State record, visit HIRE’s Resources & Assistance section and click on the relevant state. Each state has different requirements and processes for requesting a RAP sheet, some may charge a fee, others may require a written request on a form, and some may require the submission of fingerprints or simply provide information through a name and date of birth search. It is important to be familiar with the policies required by the agency in the state for which you are requesting a record.
To receive a copy of a FBI record under the Freedom of Information Act, send a written request that includes your name, date and place of birth, a full set of fingerprints, and a certified check or money order for $18. (Local police precincts can provide the fingerprint cards and fingerprint services necessary to complete the record review process.) Requests may only come from the individual to whom the record belongs, not a third party agency. Send requests to:
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation Information Services Division
Attention: SCU, Mod. D-2
1000 Custer Hollow RoadClarksburg, WV 26306