There are subtle variations among the states in regards to the treatment of public arrest records but they are fundamentally public records in all the states and as such are inherently accessible by any member of the public on anyone at anytime. Among the different ways to access them, the most practical and efficient one is through online retrieval. Many police departments provide websites directly to the public for that purpose while others delegate them through separate government agencies. Naturally, there are commercial ones too, the Information Age rocks. The so-called public or government ones are relatively straightforward. By and large, access is free-of-charge. Some counties levy administrative fees but they are usually nominal. The commercial ones are more fanciful, offering myriads of packages and deals. There are even gateway and review sites dealing in directory and recommendation services respectively. Ultimately, it is business so there will be charges if there's to be anything significant and meaningful derived through them.
Competition in the online public arrest records industry is fierce. That's a good thing for consumers as it drives up the standard of quality and other deliverables. There are many very professional ones to be found, where else, on the web of course! On top of locating information from the various public offices, they also tap into proprietary and private resources. To be sure, it can be viable to assemble public arrest records from free sources for some who have time on their hands and fire in their hearts. But for most, it's a no-brainer to the easy way out.