What is an arrest record?
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation maintains and disseminates arrest records relating to all criminal matters in the state. In response to a request for criminal history information, TBI offers a background check through Tennessee Open Records Information Services (TORIS). Criminal history records are freely disseminated to all applicants who are citizens of the state of Tennessee and can be availed through an online check or by mail.
At this point, TORIS checks are restricted to name searches only. Any requests pertaining to finger print investigations have to be backed by an appeal based on the results obtained through a name check criminal history report. The Bureau does mention on its website that searches based solely on the name of the subject often return inconclusive results. In this case, a finger print verification is the only way to positively identify the individual about whom the inquiry has been launched.
When a finger print search request is received from an entity, (individual or organization) that is authorized by law to make such a request, the TBI cross checks the finger print samples received from such applicants against all the records stored in the system of the Tennessee Crime Information Center (TCIC). In fact, some government agencies have direct access to this database and can search for such records online by using the proper identifiers.
To request arrest records through a name check from the TORIS database, applicants have to furnish personal information including their name, address, phone number and email address. All searches are charged at $29 whether requested online or by mail. Subject related information required to initiate the search includes: a first and a last name, gender and the race of the person in question.
Apart from this, applicants can also provide the social security number and the current address of the subject where available to ensure the accuracy of the records. However, this information is not mandatory for requesting the search.
Criminal history information offered will include arrest records, details on charges filed, case disposition, correctional facility where the offender is being held and release dates. A TORIS search will also bring back records on individuals who were arrested and charged of a crime but were not convicted, unless this information has been expunged.
The Bureau does not entertain requests for searches through the federal crimes database; however, it is possible for an individual to get a personal crime report from the Criminal Justice Information Services Division Liaison office of the FBI by calling on (304) 625-5590 or writing to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at:
Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
Pursuant to the Child Care Provider Act or Developmental Disabilities Act out of state employers can conduct a background check when employing people who reside in Tennessee. However, they will need to have a User Agreement with the Bureau to perform a criminal history search through TAPS (Tennessee Applicant Processing Services)
The State of Tennessee allows for the expungement of criminal records; however, Section 40-320-101 (G) only applies to some Class E felonies and misdemeanors. Arrest records will not be sealed or expunged in cases where an individual has more than one criminal conviction in Tennessee, has a conviction from another state or has been convicted in a federal matter.
Applicants need to wait for 5 years from the completion of sentence to file a request for the expungement of criminal records. It is imperative to note that an expungement only erases a person’s public criminal record. Law enforcement agencies can still access the information and a court order for expungement does nothing to alter third party databases that provide arrest records.
What is an arrest warrant?
According to the Tennessee Code Title 40, Chapter 6, an arrest warrant is defined as a written order for the legal detention of the person in whose name it has been issued. It is directed to an officer of the law and is signed by a magistrate of a judicial entity in the state that handles criminal cases.
In Tennessee, a warrant for arrest can be issued by the magistrate or a lawfully authorized court clerk or his/her duly sworn deputies. However, a written complaint has to be filed to procure the warrant. Once information is submitted about a public offense, the magistrate is legally obligated to examine the information presented in the affidavit or the affiant on oath. A sworn testimony needed to establish probable cause can take place over an audio video channel if a face to face meeting is not possible.
An affidavit of complaint that conforms to the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure can also be transmitted through facsimile or electronically and the examination of the details/ affiant can then be conducted to ensure that there is probable cause to conclude that a crime has indeed been committed and that the person against whom the warrant is being requested had a role to play in the incident. The findings are strictly to be based on evidence but this may be hearsay in whole or part, as long as the source of the information is believed to be credible.
All arrest warrants issued in the state of Tennessee will state the name of the defendant, unless the name is unknown in which case, the defendant can be identified by any aliases or any other name. The offense for which the arrest order has been issued will also be clearly stated along with an explicit directive for peace officers to take the individual in whose name the warrant has been granted, into custody.
An arrest order is only deemed to be an active arrest warrant when it bears the name and signature of the issuing magistrate along with the date of issue and the county in which the warrant was procured. A copy of the affidavit which formed the basis for the issuance of the warrant will also be attached to the order for detention.
Although a warrant is only directed at one or two peace officers, mentioned by name on the order, it can be executed by any law enforcement official. Once a warrant is issued, the general sessions court clerk will promptly record it in the docket book.
A criminal summons or arrest warrant issued in Tennessee can be executed in any county in the state and the issuing magistrate may also empower law enforcement officials from across the country to take a person against whom such an arrest order is issued, into custody even when he/she is beyond the geographical bounds of the state.
How to search for an inmate in the Tennessee Jail & Prison system?
The Tennessee Department of corrections oversees the functioning of 14 prisons which house an estimated 20,000 inmates. Of these, twelve facilities are for male inmates while two are used for the incarceration of female prisoners. Inmates are allowed to meet visitors and receive mail correspondence in the state of Tennessee.
In order to locate a prisoner in the DOC system, you will need to visit their official website at http://www.tn.gov/correction/ Click on the ‘inmate search’ tab in the ‘agency services’ category, on the left side. You will find three options on the search page; one that allows for a search through the first and last name of the prisoner, the second that can be used for a TOMIS (Tennessee Offender Management Information System) number search and finally a state id number search.
Once you have typed in the appropriate information, simply hit search and you will be directed to the results page. Here you will see information such as name of the prisoner, his/her TOMIS ID number, the correctional facility where he/she is being incarcerated, sentence beginning, end, parole eligibility and hearing dates. Clicking on the location tab will open a small window with the address of the facility.
Who can search for arrest records and warrants in Tennessee and how?
Pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act, all residents of the state can request access to public records including criminal history information. However recent federal statutes have opened up these records for all US citizens. For access to public records, the applicant needs to direct his request to the designated custodian of such records. The maximum allowed response time for such information is 7 days in the state of Tennessee
While Title 38 of the Tennessee Code makes it mandatory for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to process criminal background checks for individuals and private entities, if such an investigation is conducted for employment reasons, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act does apply and prospective employers will have to notify job applicants if employment is denied based on the information received through such a search.
How to request records under the Tennessee specific laws, freedom of information?
There are two options to conduct an arrest records search in Tennessee, you can do it online or request a criminal history search through mail.
Through fax or mail: Download the criminal history check application from http://www.tbi.tn.gov/background_checks/TORIS-master-memo.pdf and send it to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at
901 R.S. Gass Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37216
Online search: Visit the TORIS search page on tbibackgrounds.com/toris/. If you are a commercial applicant who needs to frequently conduct background checks, you can register with the site for free. For one time search request, you will need to offer your credit card information. Once it is validated, you will be directed to the search page and you only need to furnish the first and last name of your subject, along with the race, gender, social security number and current address if available to access his/her arrest records.
Both online and mail background searches are charged at $29 and they can be conducted even when you only have partial information about the subject of your inquiry; however, the results may not be accurate.