What Are Arrest Charge Codes?

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Arrest charge codes are used by the legal system to provide information on an arrest and the ensuing legal process, as detailed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Charge codes are also commonly used to perform background checks, as they are a concise way of relaying information regarding a person’s contact with the legal system, according to National Employment Screening. Codes may vary by jurisdiction.

As the Missouri State Highway Patrol explains, charge codes are created upon arrest and are then used as the case moves through the legal system, from prosecution to incarceration to probation. Most jurisdictions have charge codes for multiple categories, such as those used by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, including a statute number and subsection; a uniform offense numeric code; the level of the charge, such as misdemeanor or felony; the degree of the charge, such as first, second or third degree; an indicator on whether the subject is a juvenile; a shorthand code identifying the charge; and a description of the charge. Charge codes used to indicate class may include violation for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor for petty larceny or criminal possession of marijuana, a felony for third degree burglary and a violent felony for second degree robbery or criminal possession of a weapon, as detailed in New York State Law.