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Utah

 

Utah public records law is governed by the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). The law grants the public access to copies of all government records that are not determined to be invasive of an individual’s privacy, contain trade secrets or contain information that could impair governmental procurement proceedings.

Members of the general public provide a written request to the government agency in control of the document, and the agency in question then has 10 business days to either provide the record or provide written notice of why the request is denied or will take longer to fulfill. Requesters with media credentials are guaranteed the same response within five business days.

The law includes private entities that are created or funded by a public entity, all public associations, and public universities with the exception of unpublished research.

Fees may be charged for the research, collection and copying of records. These fees cannot exceed the hourly pay of the lowest-paid staff member who can complete the request, and there is no charge for requests that take less than 15 minutes to fulfill.

Utah Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

The Bureau of Criminal Identification of the Utah Department of Public Safety is responsible for official state background checks. Criminal records are obtained from their office in Salt Lake City. Individuals can obtain their own criminal record in person at this office with a government-issued picture ID and by paying a fee of $15. Records can also be obtained through the mail from this office by filling out the Criminal History Record Application. If done this way, applicants must visit their local law enforcement agency and have a set of fingerprints made to enclose with the mailed application along with the application fee of $15.

Criminal records can only be directly issued to the subject of the record. The subject can voluntarily have their criminal record sent to a third party by filling out a release form and submitting it with their application.

Arrest record information available to the general public in Utah is limited to the arrest photo, name, age, physical description, city or town of residence, charges, arraignment dates and bond amounts of the person in question.

Utah Jail and Inmate Records

Some of the counties, such as Salt Lake County and Utah County, have an online search tool maintained by the sherrif’s department that allows members of the general public to look up basic information about current inmates in that county. These search tools require the name of the inmate, and the date of arrest can also be used. Information available to anyone includes a mugshot, the arresting agency and booking date, the inmate’s year of birth and nationality, basic physical description details, and the nature of charges with any applicable bail amount.

The Utah Department of Corrections maintains a similar online search tool for inmates in state prisons. The inmate’s first and last name must be known, or alternately their offender number can be used.

Utah Court Records

Public court records can be obtained centrally from the Utah Courts. Private court records are restricted to the subjects of the record and their attorney.

The Utah State Archives holds court records that are more than 50 years old. These records are considered archived, and transcripts are very rarely kept. Records of proceedings are generally open to the public, but some cases are sealed by the court and require a court order to access.

Utah Vital Records

Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates are handled by the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics. Birth and death certificates are available dating back to 1905 and can be ordered in person, by mail or online through Vitalchek. This office can only provide marriage and divorce certificates from 1978 to 2010. Marriage records from 2011 onward must be obtained from the county where the marriage took place.

Vital records can only be obtained by the subject or their spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.

The above information is for running general, free searches in Utah. If you want to hire someone in Utah and then run a background check on them, different laws will apply. Read below to understand more.

Running Employment Background Checks in Utah

Utah is a state that is known for its efficiency in both business and government. So when it was discovered that a state rule that it had for pre-employment inquiry on the part of employers was now precisely like federal law, the state went in and repealed the specific rule, saving taxpayers some money.

The upshot for Utah employers is that the state guidelines for employment background checks closely mirror those of the Federal government through its various agencies. Here are some relevant details for running employment screening while hiring in Utah.

Utah requirements for different professions:

Like other states, Utah has recognized that certain professions require a great deal more scrutiny during the hiring process than others. Therefore, teachers and employees that work closely with children normally have a criminal history background check done on them by their prospective employer. Utah state law requires that a background check be done on all potential hires for Charter schools and the criminal background check is just a part of this. The details of the process are largely left up to the individual school district, but some of them do provide a process within the hiring process for potential hires to actually explain convictions or arrests that may be mistakenly show up on the candidate’s record.

Another set of job types where employers are clear to run criminal checks on their workers has to do with applicants that will be working in jobs with “financial, national security, or statutory authority” responsibilities.

Beyond those two types of roles, the state of Utah explicitly mentions that employers will not be able to run criminal background checks directly. The applicants themselves must ask for a criminal background check from the appropriate state department and then submit the results to the employer.

For truck drivers and delivery personnel, it is common for employers to run a driving record report that will verify that the applicant has a valid license. If there are infractions that appear on the applicant’s record, those infractions can be an acceptable reason for companies to disqualify that individual from further employment consideration.

General requirements for background checks in Utah:

Utah appears to spend much of its regulatory energy remaining in line with federal statutes and guidelines regarding the hiring process. Because of this, hiring in Utah is not much different than hiring in other states that are very federal government-centric in their policies.

The state does have a very clear set of guidelines that cover how criminal background checks can proceed for many employers that ask their employees to get a copy of their own criminal background. Employers need to ask employees to sign a waiver and then provide them with information that tells them specifically what information will be used and how it will be used in the hiring process. The idea is to make the process transparent so that both parties understand the importance of following the guidelines.

Drug testing in Utah is acceptable as long as the testing relates to the potential work to be performed. In practice, this covers almost every type of job. A failed drug test is viewed as being an adequate reason not to offer employment.

Similarly, driving records checks can be done, although the state requires that you get permission in writing from the applicant to do so.

For employment background checks that are non-criminal, there are currently no laws or statutes that differ from federal guidelines.

What can be shown on a background check in Utah:

For companies that run a criminal background check or have their applicants submit one, they will receive the same personal information about their employee that they used on their application. They will also see a record of convictions and court dispositions.

Driving record reports will show either 3 or 7 years of the applicant’s driving history with a history of infractions and tickets that have not been expunged from the record.

For non-criminal background checks, many companies often rely on third party businesses that specialize in knowing what is legal to state about someone and what isn’t. By using a third party vendor that already has the system worked out, a company can reduce its liability and learn about what types of information are legal to use at the same time.

Credit reports in UT for background checks:

Credit checks can be a useful type of background check if the job that you are hiring for requires workers to manage money, information, or financial data. Their use does not always correlate with worker performance- but as a Utah retailer recently found out, not running one for a current employee cost them millions of dollars as that person was able to create a system where they received additional money from the company’s suppliers- and then turned around and used it to pay off their personal gambling debts.

Utah currently follows the federal guidelines for credit screening as a part of the employment process. Applicants need to be informed and their information should be made available to them upon request.

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