Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 4, No. 1 (1974), pp. 116-156


There is in the United States a need to balance the interest of the public in the apprehension and conviction of criminals with that of individuals arrested but not convicted of any wrongdoing. As has been shown, some of the leading civil law countries have approached this goal in two ways: first, by not requiring an arrest in a great number of criminal cases and thus not furthering in the mind of the public the idea that arrest and criminal wrongdoing are identical, and second, by confining entries in criminal records, at least on principle, to final convictions of criminal violations. The recent West German codification of the law of criminal records appears to be striving for the greatest perfection both through concentration of criminal records and limitation of their availability only to those public authorities in serious need of them as well as to the person to whom the record refers; this protects at the same time his right to privacy as to his criminal record and also his right to its accuracy. To use an arrest in itself as an item suitable for a criminal record is an anachronism that shifts to the accused the burden of proving his innocence; this ought to be changed to the more civilized method of recording convictions rather than arrests.