How Do I Locate Someone Who’s Been Arrested?

The arrest of a friend or family member can be traumatic and confusing. If this is your first encounter with the criminal justice system, finding where your loved one is being held can seem like a daunting task. Here we’ll take a brief look at the arrest and booking process and offer some important tips to help you locate someone who has been recently arrested.

Arrest, Booking, and Jail

When a person is arrested, an arrest report is created and filed electronically at the arresting officer’s home station. The arrestee is then booked—and the person’s name, address, charges, fingerprints, and mug shot are recorded. The person will then be taken to a facility and their information logged into a database.

By law, the state must bring the arrestee before a judge for a formal declaration of charges (arraignment) promptly. Usually, this means within 24 to 48 hours following arrest (though those arrested on a Friday night may not be arraigned until the following Monday). For minor offenses, bail may be set at the time of arrest. For felonies, bail is typically set by the arraignment judge. Bail amounts are dependent on the nature of the crime, the arrestee’s prior criminal history, and the arrestee’s status in the community. The person is then remanded to custody until trial or until required bail is posted.

How Do I Find Someone Who’s Been Arrested?

The first step is to gather as much information as you can on the person, such as their full name, birth date, age, gender, and race. Also, if you know the date and location of their arrest, that can help narrow the search.

Once you have this information, you’ll have to make an educated guess as to whether the person is more likely to be in jail or in prison. If a person was very recently arrested, they are more likely in jail. A person is more likely to be housed in jail if they:

  1. Have been arrested but not yet arraigned.
  2. Have been arraigned but have not been tried.
  3. Have been tried but sentenced to serve less than one year.

Call the county jail. Generally, arrestees will be held in the county where they were arrested. Most county jails will confirm that they have a person, and many have inmate locators on their websites. If the person has been transferred to another facility, they can let you know that too.

Check the website of the county sheriff, police department, and municipal court. Some county jails provide a searchable website to help you locate recent arrestees. If you do find a location for the person you’re seeking, call the facility to confirm that the person is still there. Arrestees can be moved for space reasons, and county websites may not immediately reflect recent prisoner relocations.

If your first county search comes up empty, try searching the websites of neighboring counties. You may also want to try some of the privately hosted inmate locator websites that exist in your area.

If your online searches are unsuccessful, or if you don’t have online access, you can call a non-emergency county law enforcement number and ask where the person is being held. (Note: Do not use 911, as this is for emergencies only.) Explain your situation to the operator or receptionist, and they should be able to direct you to the proper department. Some cities have a special number you can call to locate an arrestee. For example, in New York City, you can call 311 to get information on the location and status of someone who’s been recently arrested.

You may also ask (politely) to speak to the arresting officer, who may know where the person you’re seeking was booked and what facility may be housing them.

Remember that the person arrested may have given authorities an alias to prevent being linked to outstanding warrants, so they may not be listed in the system under the name you have. If you are aware of any aliases the person may use or have used in the past, try inquiring about those names as well.

Finally, and perhaps most important: be patient. The process may be frustrating, but try to stay calm. It may take a day or two for recent arrestees to be entered into the system, and you may need to try the same resources more than once for a few consecutive days to get the information you need.

If your friend or family member has been assigned bail, it is important to work with a reputable and experienced bail bond company in Georgia, if that is your location, or in your local area if outside of Georgia. Frequently, a bail bond company can get your friend or family member released in a matter of hours.

We hope these tips help clarify the process and aid in your search.


Bond, James Bond, Inc. can handle any size or type of Georgia bail bonds in Barrow County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Clarke County, Cobb County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Gwinnett County, Paulding County and Polk County. We are always open - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. We have 11 locations which are conveniently located to serve you better. Visit us at, or call Bond, James Bond, Inc. at (770) 382-9111.