How Do I Search Court Records and Arrests in Charleston SC?

If someone you love has just been arrested, or if you are afraid they might have been, you need to know how to find them as quickly as possible – how can you get information on arrests in Charleston SC?

Where are they? Has their bond been set? If not, where should you go for the bond hearing? How do you find out when they have been released?

Or, if you need information about someone who has been convicted and sentenced to prison, where do you begin?

What if you are curious about someone’s previous arrests and convictions – you are hiring a new employee or maybe even screening a potential date – do you have to hire a private investigator to find out what is on their criminal record?

You don’t have to stress or hire a professional just to find court information in SC – most court records, including records of arrests in Charleston SC, are available for free online…

Online Record Searches

Over the past decade or so, there has been an explosion of websites that claim to find information on arrests and other court information. For the most part, these websites do not function as claimed, they will ask you for a fee, or they are full of broken links.


What these sites do not tell you is that most court information, including arrest information, is available for free directly from the jail, sheriff, or state-run websites…

Al Cannon Detention Center – Arrests in Charleston, SC

Many of SC’s local city jails and sheriff’s offices make their bookings and releases available online. For example, The Charleston County Detention Center has an easy to use, searchable database where you can find:

  • Who was arrested;
  • What day and time they were arrested;
  • What they were charged with;
  • The amount of their bond;
  • Their inmate number;
  • Their warrant or ticket numbers; and
  • What court their case will be in.

If you can’t find the information that you need, any local or county jail will give you information on a family member’s arrest, the time of their bond hearing, and the amount of their bond if you call them directly.

SC Inmate Locator

The South Carolina Department of Correction’s (SCDOC) incarcerated inmate search allows you to search by first name, last name, or inmate number to find information on any person who is being held in a SC prison.

The information available includes their name, inmate number, a photo of the person, the charges they were convicted of, the length of their sentence, and their projected release date.

Federal Inmate Locator

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) also has a searchable website where you can find information on any federal inmate, including their charges, inmate number, sentence, and location.

SC Public Index

Every court case in South Carolina can be found on the South Carolina Public Index. Each county has its own public index – you must know which county a case is in before you can search for it.

The site has a map of all counties in SC – if you know which county the case is in, you can click on it and it will take you to the public index for that county.

You can then select different events in fields on the search page to search by:

  • Criminal or civil;
  • Arrest date (or date range);
  • Type of court; or
  • A litigant’s name.

For example, the Charleston County public index contains court records for:

  • Arrests in Charleston, SC;
  • Civil lawsuits, searchable by plaintiff or defendant;
  • Foreclosures; or
  • Evictions.

How Do I Find Sex Offenders in Charleston, SC?

Convicted sex offenders in SC must register with the Sheriff of the county that they live in, and their information is made public on a website maintained by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

The site is searchable by geographic location. If you are moving into a new neighborhood in Charleston, SC, and you want to know if there are registered sex offenders living nearby (there probably are), you can find out how many registered sex offenders live within a one, two, or three-mile radius of your address or within your zip code.

The information that is available on the sex offender registry’s website includes:

  • The person’s name;
  • Their address;
  • The “offender type;”
  • A photograph;
  • A physical description of the person;
  • Their demographic information;
  • Any scars, marks, or tattoos the person has;
  • Their vehicle information; and
  • Their convictions.

Background Checks in SC

Although the public index and local jails’ websites have information on arrests in Charleston SC, searches are limited to the county – the easiest way to do a reliable background check on a person is through SLED’s website.

SLED Catch” allows anyone to receive a certified criminal history on a person online for a $25 fee. At a minimum, SLED Catch requires the person’s first initial, last name, and date of birth. It will also search for social security number if you have it, but it’s not necessary.

SLED Catch can give false positives or negatives – when this happens, the only way to ensure that you are getting accurate results is to do a fingerprint search.

Most states have similar procedures to obtain a criminal history, although some require a written request – if you need a criminal history from another state, you will need to contact the law enforcement agency responsible for criminal records in that state and ask them what the procedure is.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Grant B. Smaldone is a SC criminal defense attorney in Charleston, SC – if you are unable to locate a loved one and you believe they have been arrested and charged with a crime in the Charleston, SC area, we may be able to help:

  • Locate the person;
  • Find out what they have been charged with;
  • Find out when their bond hearing will be and represent them at the hearing;
  • Investigate their case; and
  • Get their dismissed, negotiate a resolution, or try their case to a jury.

If your loved one has been arrested in Charleston, SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or email us online to talk to a defense lawyer today.