Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
If you’re familiar with Dirty John, you might think it seems far fetched and there’s no way it could happen to you. The popular podcast and newspaper series is based on a true story, and recently it was turned into a Bravo TV series. The “John” of the story met a woman named Debra Newell through a dating site, and seemed like a perfect gentleman, but he was hiding a sinister past.
Although Newell fell for his charms and story hook, line, and sinker, her children suspected he was too good to be true. It turned out their suspicions were warranted: Soon, the criminal records and lies came to light, but it was too late: Debra had already married “Dirty John.”
Many people have had minor run-ins with the law, which might not be such a big deal. But sometimes, the crime might be a red flag that you should pay close attention to (or at least consider), whether it be a relative, friend, or a romantic interest.
How to Find Out If Someone Is in Jail
Maybe you haven’t heard from a loved one for a few days and that’s unlike them. The first thing you can do is check county websites for recent arrest records. If you don’t find reference to or evidence of an arrest of someone you know right away, you might want to check neighboring counties, as the person arrested could be waiting to be transported. County databases may not be updated immediately, and it could be days before you see anything online, so keep checking.
Alternatively, if you know a person was arrested and you aren’t sure of which county, you can check a state or federal website to find an inmate. There’s also the chance that you don’t know the person as well as you thought you did, and they may be using an assumed name or stolen identity. In this case, it might be time to do a little more digging.
What to Do If You Suspect Someone Has a Criminal Background
If you have a feeling or suspicion that a person you’ve recently met may be untrustworthy, look for red flags like small lies and unnecessary secrecy. You may also want to run a background check to find out if there’s a criminal history they haven’t told you about.
A criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a violent or dangerous person — it could be a misunderstanding or something minor, like unpaid parking tickets. However, a background check could unearth an arrest record, along with some unsavory details about someone’s past.
If you discover that someone you’re close with has been arrested and/or convicted of a violent crime, you may want to try to protect yourself against becoming their next victim. You may choose to limit your contact with that person or cut them out of your life altogether.
As long as you have a little information on someone, you can research their background, including aliases, past addresses, criminal history, and maybe financial history, which could help answer some questions and potentially reduce your risk of a perilous situation.