April 20, 2000
ACCESS TO ARREST RECORDS
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Senior Attorney
You wanted to know if the Freedom of Information Act requires the disclosure of arrest records.
With two exceptions, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires public disclosure of the names and addresses of arrestees; the date, time, and place of the arrest; and the offense for which each was arrested. The requirement does not apply to juvenile or erased records.
Records designated by the police department as an arrest or incident report, news release, or other similar reports have to be disclosed only if they do not fit within the FOIA exemption for law enforcement records (CGS § 1-215). Law enforcement agencies do not have to allow access to records of criminal investigations or detection if disclosure would be contrary to the public interest because it would reveal:
1. the identity of informants not otherwise known;
2. information prejudicial to a prospective law enforcement action;
3. investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public;
4. juvenile arrest records, including related investigatory files;
5. the names and addresses of victims of sexual assault, risk of injury, or moral impairment;
6. signed witness statements; or
7. allegations that must be destroyed after one year if uncorrobated (CGS § 1-210 (b)(3)).
The law specifically prohibits law enforcement agencies from disclosing any personal effects or possessions found on an arrestee unless the items are relevant to the crime for which he was arrested (CGS § 1-215 (a)).