It can be understandably stressful if a family member fails to return home as expected, or a reliable employee unexpectedly fails to show up for their shift at work. Your first instinct may be to contact local hospitals to determine whether the missing person could have been injured in an accident or worse. But it may also be worth considering whether the person has been arrested and is in a DC jail.

Identifying an individual’s whereabouts can be challenging if they have been arrested and are being held in jail, because it may take up to 48 hours to be processed in jail records. If you need to find out if someone was arrested and is in jail in Washington, DC, there are a number of steps you can take to identify their location and status.

Can I Search Court Records for an Arrest?

The most straightforward step may be searching District of Columbia court records. Doing so will allow you to identify whether the individual for whom you are searching faces any imminent criminal charges in DC. A real-time search is publicly available on the DC Courts website. There is no fee for any member of the public to search the database. If the person has been arrested, the database will usually state the person’s charges and when the individual in question is next expected to appear in court relating to those charges.

Should I Reach out to Others if Someone Was Arrested?

Second, you could reach out to the people who were last with the individual you are trying to find. If your friend or loved one was in their company at the time of an arrest, they could give you clues as to where they might be detained.

How Else Can Someone Find an Arrest Record or Warrant?

If you do not have success with the person’s companions, you could try calling the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) at (202) 727-9099 for information. However, large police departments like MPD deal with extremely high volumes and often will not release arrest information via phone. Alternatively, MPD may also direct you to call a specific number that exclusively handles arrest information. You may also find more success if you visit a local precinct to speak to a representative in person.

Will the DC Department of Correction’s Records Office Provide Information about an Arrest?

In the event you still have no luck with MPD directly in your search to figure out whether someone was arrested and is currently being held in a DC jail, you may have success getting information from the DC Department of Correction’s (DOC) Records Office at (202) 523-7060. This would be the agency to contact if you suspect that the individual is within DOC’s custody. A phone representative there may be able to tell you whether the person in question is a DOC inmate if you can provide their full legal name. Likewise, if the individual may be in federal custody, you can search for that person’s name on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website for where they are incarcerated and their expected release date.

What if the Person who Was Arrested is a Minor?

If the person you are looking for is a minor, you should contact the DC Family Court Social Services Division. The Juvenile Intake Services Office is the division segment that handles all matters relating to police complaints and legal cases relating to minors.

Reach out to a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

It can be frightening and unsettling when you are unable to track down a loved one or colleague. The steps outlined above should serve as a useful starting point for how you can find out if someone was arrested and is in jail in DC.