Located in the southern central United States, Oklahoma became a state in 1907 with the merging of the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory. A region prone to severe weather, the state lies in the Great Plains, the U.S. Interior Highlands, and the Cross Timbers. The state has a diverse economic base that is built on such things as agriculture, natural gas, oil, aviation, and biotechnology. With over 3.8 million residents, Oklahoma is the 28th most populated state in the U.S. and does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.
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Oklahoma Public Records Laws
Oklahoma’s Open Records Act was first passed in 1985 and has been amended several times since. The Act is covered under Chapter 24 of Title 51 in the Oklahoma Statutes. The Act states that “any person,” regardless of citizenship status, has access to public records in Oklahoma. You may request records for any purpose, but if the purpose is commercial, you may be charged an additional fee.
Records that are subject to the Act include all records from public bodies, including the executive and judicial branches. The legislative branch is not covered by the Act unless records relate to the spending of public funds. Records that are not covered by the Act, or that are exempt, include:
- Personnel records
- Investigatory files
- Educational records
- Trade secrets
- Traffic collision reports
- Insurance commission reports
- Any records made exempt by statute
Oklahoma Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks
Background checks in Oklahoma are administered by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). A Criminal History Records Check can be requested on anyone, by anyone, and does not require a signed release by the person being checked. You simply need to fill out the application with the appropriate information. There is also an online search portal that employers and licensing agencies can use to perform background checks instantly. These are name-based reports that return arrest history for the state of Oklahoma only.
Oklahoma Jail and Inmate Records
To find information on the state correctional facilities, inmates in the system, or services for victims, visit the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website. If you wish to locate an offender in the Oklahoma prison system, there is a search page that will prompt you to enter either an ODOC# or a First and Last Name. The results will return an image, if available, a description, list of offenses, current location, and earliest possible release date.
Oklahoma Court Records
Information on courts in Oklahoma and how to obtain court records can be found on the state’s administrator of the courts website. The online search page will allow you to search the dockets for all district courts as well as the three appellate courts in the state. Copies of full case files and more specific records will still need to be requested from the clerk of the court in the courthouse where the case was heard.
Oklahoma Vital Records
Vital records in Oklahoma, such as birth and death certificates, are administered by the Oklahoma Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Office. Birth and death certificates are available from 1908 to present. To obtain either of these, you will need to prove that you are an interested party, such as being listed on the certificate, an immediate family member, legal guardian, or legal representative. Birth records become open records after 125 years and death records after 75 years. To request either of these you can do the following:
- In Person: You can order in person at the State Office at Vital Records Service, State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117.
- By Mail: Simply download and complete the proper birth certificate or death certificate application and return it with copies of required documentation to: Vital Records Service, State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117.
- Online: Place your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.
Marriage and divorce records in Oklahoma are only maintained by the counties in which the event took place. If you need a marriage or divorce certificate, you will need to make the request from the clerk of the court in the county where the marriage or divorce took place.