Arrest is a Public Record

I represent a lot of people who have never been in trouble before in their lives. The arrest – whether it’s for a misdemeanor such as shoplifting or drunk driving (DUI/DWI) – or it’s for a Felony such as shoplifting or tampering with an anti-theft security device – is frightening.

But after the initial anxiety of the arrest – after the person has bonded out of custody and hired me to provide aggressive representation – my clients are often concerned about the publicity associated with an arrest.

Of course, the vast majority of criminal arrests don’t make front page news. But every arrest is a public record. And felony arrests – where a person’s photograph is taken by the CCBI (City-County Bureau of Identification) agents in the jail – almost always result in a photograph on WRAL’s photo gallery or in The Slammer’s pages.

It’s unfortunate. Ten years ago, an arrest of this sort would go unnoticed. But in the internet age, where everyone has access to the web, and websites are crawled by Google, if you’ve got a unique name, an arrest may leave a lasting record.

What can you do?

The bad news is that there’s usually no legal action that you can take to force a website, such as WRAL, to remove this record from their archives. You might be able to convince them to remove the photograph by being polite and respectful. But they are not required to do so by law because an arrest is a public record.

One option is to create an online profile that puts all the good things about you above all the bad things about you. There are various articles on the web about how to create a positive online profile. If you’re very concerned about the bad image that might formed by viewing an old arrest, you might try to create a positive online profile that will obscure the bad profiles on various websites about your arrest.

More might be done, and you can feel free to call me to discuss possible ways to help avoid a very public, and very embarrassing, image as a result of a Raleigh criminal arrest.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.