The purpose of the keeping of records had always been to maintain a method of informing the general public about something or someone, and there is no information that is of much interest to the public more than the criminal record of a person. It is thus easy to see why states like Florida keep copies of their criminal records and they make the same available to the general public. In Florida, these records are known as Florida Arrest Records, though it is important to note that it is not only arrest records that are being kept and maintained by the various departments and agencies that work directly at the state level.
To understand Florida Criminal Records, one must first understand what is written on these records. These records contain not only arrest information but also information regarding the court hearings and decisions of the case and, if applicable, the incarceration information of the person whom the records refer to. In general, anyone could request for arrest records of anyone, but in practice, there are procedures that must be followed and there are some records that could not be requested or no matter how valid the request for the same is. An example of a record that could not be requested by any person, aside from the person referred to in the record and his or her relatives, are juvenile arrest records which the law requires to be sealed in order to protect the person whom the records refer to. It is also possible that some criminal records be expunged from the record through a valid request made by the person whom the records refer to.
Under this chapter, the first step would be to request to inspect the records. The law prescribes and requires the person who has custody of the said public records to allow both inspection of and copying of the records at a reasonable time and under any reasonable conditions. There is no requirements as to a reasonable reason for the inspection or copying of the same, thus, any person could make the request. Reasonable time means the office hours of the department, in particular, their records division, and reasonable conditions means that the inspection and copying of the same should be done within the division and under the supervision of members of that division. Thus, for a person, whether or not he or she is the person whom the records refer to, to inspect and copy a criminal record, he or she must first head over to the department during office hours and make the request there. At this level, only the presence of the person at the department is required.
The same law prescribes the required fee which is a maximum of one dollar per page to be copied. Of course, if the records are confidential, then it could neither be copied nor inspected, but the custodian would have to state in writing the reason why the document in question is exempt or confidential.
Florida law requires that before an arrest record, or any record for that matter could be posted online, it must be verified first. It is, thus, possible that there are arrest records available from online databases that are not affiliated with the government, but because they are not yet verified, they have not yet been uploaded to the official databases. If not yet at the official databases, then the unofficial ones would not have them as well. Given time, the records would be available online. The difference here is that these databases provide their information using a platform that is not only more efficient and faster, but also could be accessed from the homes of the user. Indeed, requesting for these type of records cannot only be accomplished offline but via online as well. In addition, searches using online databases charge only a small minimal fee.