North Carolina Mugshots

Crime, Arrest, and Incarceration Rates

North Carolina's most recent crime report shows a violent crime rate of 383.7 and a property crime rate of 2,677.8 in every 100,000 residents for the year 2017. This places this America's 9th most populous state (with over 10.4 million residents) as the nation's 31st safest. While two of North Carolina's foremost cities currently among the top 25 safest cities in the US; Winston-Salem and Raleigh, it has its fair share of dangerous cities. North Carolina’s most violent cities include Lumberton, Oxford, Kinston, Laurinburg, Forest City, Wadesboro, Henderson, Goldsboro, Roanoke Rapids, and Pineville.

The state's 504 law enforcement agencies make some 350,000 arrests annually and have 639 citizens in every 100,000 incarcerated. As of 2018, North Carolina has 67,000 people in prison: 36,000 in state prisons, 19,000 in local jails, 11,000 in federal prisons, 470 in juvenile centers, and 210 under involuntary commitment. The state has the 21st lowest incarceration rate in the country.

Public Access to Mugshots and Arrest Records

Like in most states in the US, the criminal justice process in North Carolina usually begins with an arrest by a law enforcement officer. The officer may have an arrest warrant or a probable cause to believe the person has committed or is committing a crime to make an arrest. After an arrest, the offender is taken to a police station or a sheriff's office for booking. In the process of booking, the offender's photography (mugshot) and fingerprints are taken and these become public records in accordance with North Carolina's public records law.

Such public records are provided to any citizen on simple request by the law enforcement agencies holding them. This easy access makes for quick republishing by any member of the public. Hence, mugshots and other arrest data are posted for free, searchable online, and sold in magazines at local convenience stores. While originally this serves to help identify witnesses and/or collaborators in an alleged crime and also serves as a deterrent to future criminal activity, it has given way to predatory exploitation. Online publishers providing mugshot removal service for a fee have become a national menace. This has generated a broader discussion on the limit of allowance to private firms to profiting from the use of public information.

To protect her citizens from these commercial mugshot publishers, North Carolina passed into law in 2013 the legislation conditioning the provision of booking photographs by law enforcement agencies. The law prohibits the provision of mugshots to websites that charge removal fees. There was a further status that failed which was targeted at making post-arrest photographic images confidential unless the offender is charged with a felony. However, within the ambit of existing law, North Carolina citizens can solicit to have their photographs removed from private mugshots aggregating websites without giving into the exploitation.

The first step to this solicitation begins with an understanding of the new expungement law that came into effect in December 2017. By the virtue of this law, eligible citizens can have their criminal records erased from law enforcement agencies’ database by appealing at the county courthouse where you were charged. If you have had an arrest history in North Carolina, you will find resources here on locating your mugshots, obtaining the relevant arrest history records, discovering the expungement process in the county of your arrest and contacting the right local authorities to help you accomplish this.

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