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New York Public Records

New York is one of the most unique states for Freedom of Information laws because it operates two different systems for delivering public information to those requesting it. 

There is New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for New York City and there is the law for the rest of the state. This also means there are different ways that smaller towns deliver public information documents to requesters versus New York City. Also, the cost can be different in the two areas.

Also, the single agency that receives the most FOIL request, the New York Police Department (NYPD) operates in an independent fashion even though they are under the same laws as the rest of the city. Sometimes the NYPD initiates its own arbitrary rules.

With New York having so many differences, getting public information there can be cumbersome and complicated. We have put together a state-specific guide to help requesters in the process for public records. Information about how to properly request information in New York is below.

What does the New York public records law say?

Under State of New York laws, government agencies must acknowledge your request within five days but not longer than 20 days after. All government agencies from the executive, legislative branch as well as state agencies fall under the public information law.

There is now residency requirement to ask for public records, so the requester can live outside the state and still make the request. Requesters have 30 days to file an appeal.

With the NYPD, all requests must be made in writing and they can issue a “neither confirm or deny” response.

To learn more about public access to records, visit NewYork.gov.

How can a person access public records in New York?

Some records are available online while others require a formal request. If a request is necessary, it can be delivered by mail, email, or by phone to the record-holding department. 

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. This can be done by email, mail or by phone depending on the department where the request is submitted. In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.

New York criminal records

New York, like every state, has a vast array of criminal records available. Getting them from New York City versus the rest of the state can result in a vastly different experience. There are many reasons for seeking out criminal records. The primary reason is for employment as most employers require a background check. Other reasons could include to complete a business contract, to volunteer, or to proceed with an adoption.

What’s on a criminal record?

Criminal records contain information regarding a person’s contact with law enforcement and court case outcomes. Details are pulled from places like local police departments, local criminal courts and the state prison system.

  • There are typically five things on a person’s criminal record:
  • Personal information like their name, birthday and nationality
  • A mugshot
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • Distinguishing features such as tattoos
  • A list of all offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, with details of crimes.

Where can a person find New York criminal records?

The New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) provides a statewide criminal history search for a flat fee of $95. Requests can be submitted online or by mailing in an application. Search criteria is strict and you must have an exact match of the name and the birth date. Companies can submit requests as part of the program.

Search results relate to open and pending cases and convictions in criminal cases in all of New York’s 62 counties. It excludes sealed records and some data from towns and villages are limited.

Other limitations include:

  • No family, civil or federal cases are included
  • It doesn’t include non-criminal cases or misdemeanor cases.
  • It doesn’t include youth offender cases
  • Criminal cases transferred or removed to family court as not included.

New York inmate records

New York has more than 51,000 inmates incarcerated in its prison system throughout the state. A requester may have several reasons for seeking out inmate information. They could be a victim or a witness in a case and want to know an inmate’s status. They could be a non-profit who helps inmates in certain cases or a lawyer reviewing a case. They could also be an employer wanting to know more about the time served by a potential employee.

What’s on an inmate record?

New York is similar to other states in what it has on an inmate record. Once a requester gets an inmate record, they will have the following information:

  • Basic personal information like the name, a birthdate and the gender
  • A mug shot and inmate location
  • An inmate registration number and jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find New York inmate records?

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision offers an online search tool for inmate information. Requesters can use solely the name or use a name in combination with a birth year. Requesters can also use the Department identification number of the New York State identification number. However, if you use one of those, do not put in a name or birth years as they are meant to be used alone.

New York court records

New York state court records can be helpful in certain situations as they provide a lot of valuable information about a case. Employers may want to know more about a particular case that involves an employee or job applicant. Others in similar court cases involving the same suspect may want the information. Sometimes, people look into court cases to find out about their parent’s past or other family members as a part of genealogy.

What’s on a court record?

Court records are vast amounts of paperwork as they contain all aspects of the case from the initial arrest or court filing to the final verdict, sentencing or judgement. They can include court transcripts, dockets, case files, court minutes, court orders, sentencing or judgement, jury records and witness documentation.

Court records are not subject to the FOIL in New York. Court records are subject to disclosure under Section 255 of the judiciary law.

Where can a person find New York court records?

Requests for court records in New York go directly to the Clerk of Court or the County Clerk possessing the records. That means requesters will need to contact the local clerk’s office where the case was handled. Most files, including the New York Supreme Court and the County Court, file their records with the county clerk’s office.

Specific police or prosecution records may be maintained by the NYPD if the arrest was made within New York City. They may also be maintained by the local district attorney’s office that prosecuted the case. Requests should be sent to those agencies.

The law allows a court clerk to charge “fees at the rate allowed to a county clerk for similar service.” This includes copying and labor in searching for records.

New York vital records

Vital records are some of the most sought after public records because people need them to verify identity and other legal purposes. They include birth, death, marriage and divorce records.  People need them to start school, get a job, get a social security card, get a driver’s license or passport, even get married. Death certificates are needed to settle estates and debts.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

With concerns over privacy, states have established new protocols for obtaining vital records. Anyone requesting a vital record, like death records or marriage licenses, must submit the approximate date and place of the event, the full name of the person, including maiden names and a case file number for divorce record or a license number for marriage records.

Where can a person find New York vital records?

The New York State Department of Health is in charge of vital records. Because of COVID-19, there are no walk-in services allowed. The Department of Health keeps divoce certificates for both New York State and New York City.

Those seeking records from New York City should contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the New York City Marriage Bureau.

You can order certificates online for areas outside NYC at the DOH website as well. That includes pre-adoption birth certificate, birth, death, marriage, divorce, fetal death and still born certificates and genealogy records.

Frequently asked questions about New York records

To learn more about public records search in the state of New York, here are answers to frequently asked questions.

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes, there are no resident requirements to obtain public records. Whether you live in Manhattan, Albany, or Minneapolis, any United States citizen can make a request.

Is there a records custodian in New York?

Each agency has procedures relating to those handling records but there isn’t a statewide custodian.

What exemptions exist?

Exemptions include the judiciary and that is governed by a separate law.

How long does that state have to respond?

Those making the request must receive a denial, response or acknowledgement within five days. This should also have a date the request would be fulfilled not to exceed 20 days.

Is there an appeals process in place?

There is an appeals process. Appeals must be made in writing within 30 days of denial. The appeal must be made to the head of the governing body, entity or person designated as head. They then have 10 business days of receiving the appeal to fully explain in writing either the reasons for denial or to be granted access.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

The first two hours of search time are free and fees may cover search time beyond that. There are also copying costs. There are no provisions for fee waivers.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States

New Jersey Public Records

To access public records in New Jersey, it helps to understand the state law and the process used to request them. 

In New Jersey, the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was passed in 1963 and later updated in 2001. Currently, there are more than 20 million public records housed by various state agencies in the state. 

In order to effectively search for what you need, this state-specific guide provides direction on accessing criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records in New Jersey.

What does the New Jersey public records law say?

Public records in the state of New Jersey date back to the year 1621 and can be found across all 33 counties. Both third party and governmental websites offer these records online with increased reliability thanks to the ongoing standardization of digital public records. 

Many New Jersey State records are available online, which provides easy access and follows the rules of the New Jersey Inspection of Public Records Act, which presumes that all government information and records are available to the public.

The New Jersey Public Records law states that upon requesting records, a public agency has seven business days to respond unless there’s an interruption. If there is a hold up, the state government must communicate the problem and provide an updated timeline.

The law does exempt legislative records from the public, but all other branches are subject to the law.

How can a person access public records in New Jersey?

Some records are available online while others require a formal request form. If the public information that you’re looking for requires a request form, it can be delivered by mail, email, or by phone to the record-holding department.

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places.

In general, a public records request should include:

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.

New Jersey criminal records

The New Jersey Administrative Code authorizes the dissemination of the New Jersey Criminal History Record Information by the New Jersey State Police, Identification and Information Technology Section and the State Bureau of Identification. Only government entities of the state, private detectives, employers and individuals can request criminal records. One can choose to either check fingerprint-based records or the name-based records.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a detailed record of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. These records are pulled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s four prisons.

More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information:

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthday, nationality, etc.
  • A mug shot and full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features like tattoos and other physical attributes
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find New Jersey criminal records?

Criminal records are available from New Jersey courts, detention centers, and law enforcement agencies at both the state and local levels. The easiest way to run a background check is to use the link above. The most detailed reports are returned when a fingerprint-based search is done. The state has several ways to obtain fingerprints, including virtual meetings. In addition to fingerprints, you’ll need to fill out an application and provide a mailing address for the report to be delivered to. Name-based searches are available as well. 

New Jersey inmate records

The New Jersey Department of Corrections oversees all matters with regards to all correctional facilities in the state from men’s prisons, to women’s prisons, to youth correctional facilities and even facilities for sex offenders.

What’s on an inmate record?

The information listed on an inmate record varies, but in New Jersey the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed:

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find New Jersey inmate records?

All inmates’ records can be found in the search engine section on the Department of Corrections website by keying in their name and state identification number. Information like health records of the inmates is not disclosed. Only personal and administrative information is disclosed.

New Jersey court records

The New Jersey Open Public Records Act of 1995 allowed for disclosing all public records including court records. Some court documents can be tough to find, but the information below offers direction.

What’s on a court record?

In most cases, court records are quite large and come with many different documents. Most people find the following documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes
  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgment documentation
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find New Jersey court records?

Some of The Garden State’s court records are online while others must be requested. The link above should serve as a starting point. It will tell you if you can find records through a searchable database or if you need to visit a specific courthouse to request the documents formally. 

Except where prohibited by Supreme Court Rule or by statutes, the following courts must make their records available to the general public:

  • Civil Division including Chancery General Equity Records
  • Special Civil Part Records
  • Criminal Division Records
  • Family Division Records
  • Municipal Court Records

Copies of these records can also be purchased. 

New Jersey vital records

The Office of Vital Statistics (through the Department of Health) keeps records of birth, marriage, and death since 1919, domestic partnership records since 2004, civil unions since 2007, adoptions both foreign and domestic and lastly, birth certificates resulting from stillbirth since 1969.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To obtain a vital record in New Jersey, a person must provide certain information to aid in the search. The information needed includes:

  • The location of the event
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The full name of the person, including maiden names 
  • A case file number for divorce records
  • The license number for a marriage record

Where can a person find New Jersey vital records?

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, users are advised to place an order either online or via mail. New Jersey has an easy-to-use online system where you can request a certified copy of a birth certificate, marriage license, or access death records, for example. There are fees associated with each request and you will need to verify your identity. 

Vital records are considered public, but they’re only released to the person listed on the record or a relative of the person. You many need to scan your driver’s license to prove your identity. 

Frequently asked questions about New Jersey records

To provide additional assistance to those looking for New Jersey public records, these FAQs should help.

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes, requests can be made by non-residents of the state. 

Is there a records custodian in New Jersey?

Yes, there is a records custodian.

What exemptions exist?

The New Jersey Open Public Records Act spells out 19 exemptions. The exemptions are in regards to many sectors of the economy from education to legislative records to security and more.

How long does that state have to respond?

The state has seven days to respond to a request. Typically, the state is able to handle all requests in a timely manner. However, if a state withholds information longer than seven days, there is a penalty that they incur and an appeal can be made.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Yes, there is a very strong appeal process in New Jersey that involves filing the complaint with the government records council or the state Superior Court. It should be noted that there is no deadline for filing a complaint. However, after first denial, a requester only has 45 days to appeal the decision again to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

For electronic copies of the records, no fees are charged. Once a request has been sent, there may be some additional charges for the transmission media like a CD or DVD. Fees associated with paper copies of the records are charged depending on the number of pages of the records.

  • Updated December 5, 2020
  • States

Oklahoma Public Records

Public records can provide a wealth of information. The Oklahoma state government keeps records on everything from births and deaths to inmates and court cases. While the records are useful, they can be difficult to find, request, and receive. 

This is mainly because most public records are rarely in the same state agency and are found across several departments. Knowing how to maneuver the process can save you a lot of time and energy.

To help, this comprehensive guide for the state of Oklahoma should provide insight into the public records process and aid in your quest to access certain records, specifically criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the Oklahoma public records law say?

The state of Oklahoma says it is the inherent right of all citizens to obtain, preview, and examine the more than 35 million public records on file in accordance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act, which grants review of government records.

In Oklahoma, there are no mandatory response times, administrative appeals, or requirements of citizenship to request documents. Unless there is a request that is particularly painstaking and long, the fees associated with copying documents is nominal. All government agencies in Oklahoma must designate an officer for public records in order to receive and process all requests made by the general public. 

The legislature and judiciary are also subjected to public records requests as well, with some exceptions for executive records.

According to NFOIC, exemptions to the law also cover the following:

  • State evidentiary privilege
  • Personnel records
  • Real estate appraisals
  • Registration files of sex offenders
  • Business-related bids
  • Public officials’ personnel notes
  • Computer programs
  • Medical market research 
  • Student records

How can a person access public records in Oklahoma?

For public records access in Oklahoma, a person may need to submit an open records request, which is a formal request form. In some cases, however, there are online resources that provide 24/7 access; no request required. 

If a request is necessary, it can be sent via mail, email, or by phone to the record-holding department. 

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. 

In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you would like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, either by email or snail mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead. 

Oklahoma criminal records

All criminal history information is maintained by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and through this repository all records are available to the general public.  

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a detailed report of a person’s interactions with various police departments in the state. The information stems  from various sources and includes arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s nine prisons. 

More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birth date, nationality, etc.
  • A mugshot and full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features (tattoos, birthmarks, and other physical attributes)
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find Oklahoma criminal records?

Oklahoma criminal records can be accessed through the OSBI’s repository, but for the fastest results, requests should be directed towards the new online criminal history request portal, the Criminal History Information Request Portal

Alternatively, a request can be made by filling out a criminal history request form, submitting a fax, mailing, or going in-person to the OSBI at their address in Oklahoma City. Forms of payment that are accepted are cash (if requesting in person), cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. Requests via mail must also include a postage-paid envelope. 

Oklahoma inmate records

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) manages the state’s prison system and is responsible for managing and providing security for more than two dozen facilities. Inmate records in Oklahoma contain offender information and their location within the state’s correctional centers, penitentiaries, and county jails. 

What’s on an inmate record?

The information listed on inmate records varies state to state. In Oklahoma the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Oklahoma inmate records?

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has an online portal that the public can access for inmate records. By entering a person’s ID number or first and last name, the database can provide a record instantly. 

The state of Oklahoma also provides a database that gives the public a chance to download inmate records. There, you can find the status, reception date, and names of inmates. 

Additional records can be procured by contacting the administrative assistant or records coordinator of the DOC Offenders Records Department. Mail-in requests are also possible via the department located in Oklahoma City. 

Oklahoma court records

All state, civil, criminal, and appellate cases are available through the Oklahoma State Courts Network to the general public. In some civil cases, documents that have been filed with the county clerk can be scanned and downloaded free of charge. 

What’s on a court record?

In the majority of cases, court records are quite extensive and come with several various documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes
  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgement documentation
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find Oklahoma court records?

Oklahoma State Courts Network provides a searchable database of court records in the state. The website lets you search by court, which includes all county courts, by name, or by case number.  

If you can’t find what you’re looking for through the website, Oklahoma provides a list of contacts that can be used to track down and access records. 

For civil and criminal trials, contact the county district court where the case is pending, for appeals contact the supreme court clerk’s office, and for administrative matters the administrative office of the court should be contacted. 

In some cases, you may need to provide the case type and submit a Request for Court Records form. Here are the steps for processing requested records as well as the turnaround times:

  • Submit a request electronically via the Request for Records form
  •  Expect to be contacted within 10 business days to confirm fees due
  • Pay via cashier’s check or money order
  • Upon receipt of payment, allow 10 business days for processing

For copies of records, the fees are $1 for the first page, followed by $.50 cents for each additional page copied. Payment is possible via mail to the office of the Oklahoma County Court Clerk, with a self-addressed envelope necessary when remitting payment for copies. 

Oklahoma vital records

Oklahoma, like most states, has an office in charge of maintaining birth records, marriage records, and death records. The Oklahoma State Vital Records Division through the Oklahoma Department of Health manages all of the birth and death records within the state. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

A request for information can be done via the Oklahoma State Vital Records Division, where interested parties can provide relevant information about a specific record. This information includes:

  • The location of the event
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The full name of the person, including maiden names 
  • A case file number for divorce records
  • The license number for a marriage record

Where can a person find Oklahoma vital records?

Some information regarding Oklahoma vital records is available through Ok2Explore, a free searchable index maintained by Oklahoma State Vital Records Division. The index includes births that occurred more than twenty years ago and deaths that occurred more than five years ago. The Research Center offers a $15 express order for marriage records in this database. To order copies of a listing by mail, use the printable order form and include the information provided in the index.

A copy of most original records can be purchased from the Oklahoma Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk’s office of the county where the event occurred. The cost is $20.00 for the first copy and $15 for each individual copy for residents of Oklahoma. The Online rates vary for non-state residents. Expedited orders require an additional fee. 

Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma records

To further assist United State citizens in their right of access, here’s a list of commonly asked questions: 

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes. Anyone within the public body can submit a records request form. 

Is there a records custodian in Oklahoma?

Yes, it’s public policy for each agency to designate a records custodian under the Oklahoma Constitution. 

What exemptions exist?

There are some exemptions that cover state evidentiary priivlege, personnel records, real estate appraisals, sex offender registration files, personnel notes on public officials, business-related bids, medical market research, computer programs, and some educational records that include student records. More information can be found through the NFOIC regarding exemptions listed in Oklahoma statutes. 

How long does that state have to respond?

Although it is the public’s right to access records, the state doesn’t specify a response time for requests. Typically requests are handled promptly.  

Is there an appeals process in place?

Yes. In some states the appeals process is handled by the attorney general, but in Oklahoma, appeals go to the courts. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Request fees generally cover the nominal costs for fulfilling requests and are not to exceed 25 cents per page. However, for some requests that are classified as commercial, additional fees may apply. 

  • Updated November 9, 2020
  • States

Virginia Public Records

The Freedom of Information Act gives all United States citizens access to public records, but each state has its own rule and regulations. The state of Virginia has millions of public records that the general public has access to. 

Gaining access to these files can be a difficult process if you don’t have the necessary information to streamline everything. You might assume that a quick visit to the Library of Virginia can provide all of the information you need, but that’s not quite how it works in the state. 

Whether you live in Richmond or Virginia Beach, this state guide can help you locate records as efficiently as possible. You’ll find information and resources to find criminal, inmate, court, and vital records in all counties in Virginia. 

What does the Virginia public records law say?

Unlike many states, the code of Virginia may pose a problem for those residents out of state requesting records. The state has ruled against outside residents who tried to access public records. 

The state also has a fairly dated approach to media. Currently, online media is not classified as media for processing purposes. 

There are public records officers that have been designated in the state and the state does have a quick response time. The state responds to requests within five days and can ask for a seven day extension. 

The does have an Ombudsman to streamline the public records request process. 

All told, if you are a resident of Virginia, you have access to the government agencies that possess all the public records within the state, including local governments. Currently, there is no formal appeals process, and the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council acts as the intermediary if there is an appeal. 

To learn more, visit Virginia.gov. 

How can a person access public records in Virginia?

Some records in Virginia may be available online while others require a more formal request. If a request is necessary, it can be mailed, emailed, or delivered by phone to the record-holding department. 

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. 

In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.

Virginia criminal records

In the state of Virginia, criminal records are most commonly utilized by employers looking to conduct background checks on prospective employees. To assist employees in finding a person’s criminal records, we’ve provided some information and resources below.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a detailed record of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. These records are pulled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s four prisons.

More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthday, nationality, etc.
  • A mugshot and full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features like tattoos and other physical attributes
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find Virginia criminal records?

In Virginia, to obtain a full arrest and conviction record, a set of fingerprints must be submitted to the state police. Without fingerprints, you can access conviction data only. The fingerprints grant access to additional information, which includes arrest information. 

If a fingerprint card is sent in, the processing time is approximately 15-20 days from the time of request. Given this sluggish turnaround time, employers should consider applying for the criminal records early in the process. 

There are fees associated with these background checks as well. 

Virginia inmate records

Inmate records in Virginia consist of offenders that are held across the prisons, correctional inmate facilities, detention centers, and penal institutions throughout the state. Overseen by the Virginia Department of Corrections, they may also include information on sentencing, the class of the offense, the parish where a case was tried, and the facility location of the inmate. 

What’s on an inmate record?

The information listed on an inmate record varies, but in Virginia the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Virginia inmate records?

The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) oversees all state prisons and probation and parole offices, dividing these facilities into three regions with regional offices managing them. 

To search for the records of inmates incarcerated in Virginia, use the Offender Locator tool found on the VADOC website. If there are no instructions, then contact information can be found via the jail’s warden or FOIA Officer. 

Virginia court records

Court records in Virginia offer a wealth of information that are accumulated via court proceedings. For requesters that are in search of specific court records, there are resources listed below. It’s important to note that when you are searching for court records, bear in mind that these can be some of the most difficult records to procure since they are typically held across several courts within the state of Virginia. 

What’s on a court record?

In the majority of cases, court records are quite large and come with several varying documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes
  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgment documentation
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find Virginia court records?

If you would like to request records from the court system within the state of Virginia, visit the courthouse in the place where the case took place to request directly from the clerk of the court. Typically, this involves a written request form, and you can check the Virginia judiciary’s website to get the locations, phone numbers, and websites for the state’s courts. In some cases, you may be asked to provide as much information as you know, like brief case information or a case number. 

As a quick reference, the state’s highest court authority is the supreme court, followed by the court of appeals. Lower courts include superior courts and trial courts. Circuit courts, general district courts, and civil courts, where petitioners are looking for more than $250,000. Each court has a clerk. The circuit court, for example, has a clerk of circuit court. The state law suggests reaching out to this contact to obtain court records in the commonwealth of Virginia. 

Virginia vital records

As in most states, Virginia has an office that keeps track of its vital records that include birth records, marriage records, and death records. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

The information listed on an inmate record varies, but in Virginia the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Virginia vital records?

Through the Thomas Jefferson health District health department in Virginia, requesters can procure certified copies of birth, marriage, and divorce certificates. These can be accessed by immediate family members with valid identification. All vital records can also be obtained from the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, with copies of marriage licenses obtainable from the county Clerk’s Office.

Frequently asked questions about Virginia records

To further assist Virginia residents in their search for public records within the state, here’s a list of commonly asked questions: 

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

No. Only state residents may request records. 

Is there a records custodian in Virginia?

Yes, each agency is required by law to have a designated FOIA officer.

What exemptions exist?

Legislative records are exempted, as well as the records of petit juries and grand juries. There are also exemptions related to public safety, administrative investigations, educational records, health and social services, and trade secrets.

How long does that state have to respond?

Within 5 days from date of request.

Is there an appeals process in place?

There is no administrative appeal option.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

A state agency may charge reasonable fees that cannot exceed the actual cost of access, search, and duplication.

  • Updated November 12, 2020
  • States

American Samoa Public Records

An unincorporated territory located in the South Pacific, American Samoa consists of five main islands and two coral atolls.  American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, which is west of the Cook Islands and north of Tonga.  The southernmost territory of the U.S., American Samoa has the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory, and tuna is its chief export.  The government of the territory is defined under the Constitution of American Samoa, and its 57,000 residents are considered U.S. citizens, although they cannot vote in the presidential elections.  American Samoa does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

American Samoa  Public Records Laws

 

American Samoa does not have a specific public records act, but they are mentioned in the Territorial Code.  In Title 04, Chapter 11 of the Annotated Code, Public Records are discussed as they relate to the executive branch of government.  The language in the code has more to do with how records are to be kept than listing what is and isn’t available.

It is stated that such things as land titles, land transfers, court grants, native leases, corporations, and registers of the government should be kept as “public records”.   The code also states that these items shall be open and available for public inspection.  No exempt items are listed.

American Samoa  Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

 

Background checks in American Samoa are available from the Commission of Police, Department of Public Safety.  They no longer have an active website, but you can write to them with a request for information at:  Commissioner of Police, P.O. Box 53, Apia, AS 00917.

American Samoa  Jail and Inmate Records

 

Corrections in American Samoa is administered by the Department of Public Safety.  They used to have a website, but it is no longer active.   There is one correctional facility on the main island called the Tafuna Correctional Facility Authority.  The phone number to call the department for questions about inmates or other services is 684-699-1911.

American Samoa Court Records

 

American Samoa does not have a federal court like many of the other territories.  They have a High Court of American Samoa and a local district court, located in the capital of Pago Pago.  Neither has a website, but you can get a great deal of information about the American Samoa courts and laws from the American Samoa Bar Association website.  There is a database search available on this website and a link to court information so that you can make a records request in person to the clerk of the court.

American Samoa  Vital Records

Most vital records in American Samoa are administered by the Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS), Office of Vital Statistics.  There is no website for this agency.  All records require the person requesting them to establish eligibility.  This means that you are either listed on the record or are an immediate relative, legal guardian, or legal representative.  The method for applying and dates available depend on the type of certificate that you are requesting.

·         Birth Certificates – Birth certificates are available from 1890 to present.   Your request for this, along with a money order for $5 and proof of eligibility should be sent to: American Samoa Government, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Vital Statistics, P.O. Box 6894, Pago Pago, AS 96799.

·         Death Certificates – Death certificates are available from 1900 to present.   Your request for this, along with a money order for $5 and proof of eligibility should be sent to: American Samoa Government, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Vital Statistics in American Samoa.

·         Marriage Certificates – Marriage certificates do not give a date from which they are available.   Your request for this, along with a money order for $5 and proof of eligibility should be sent to: American Samoa Government, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Vital Statistics in Amercian Samoa.

·         Divorce Certificates – Divorce certificates do not give a date from which they are available.   Your request for this, along with a money order for $5 and proof of eligibility should be sent to: High Court of American Samoa, American Samoa Government, Pago Pago, AS 96799.

North Dakota Public Records

Public records are a valuable piece of a transparent government. While the Freedom of Information Act grants U.S. citizens the right to review records, each state has its own version. 

In North Dakota, searching for public records can be an indirect process. This is primarily because there are potentially records across several agencies in any state. Since the process is not straight-forward, it helps to know exactly where to go to make the process as simple as possible. 

We have compiled this extensive state-specific guide so that people know the rules that pertain to records and how to access them as United States citizens. With this guide, you will have the information necessary to access criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the North Dakota public records law say?

North Dakota is one of the few states in America that practices open government in that the general public has the power to inspect any records across any agency, unless exempted by law explicitly. In short, North Dakota Open Records Statute provides no special rules for its executive, legislative, or judicial branches, and extends the law to entities that receive public funding as well. 

The laws in North Dakota state that all government agencies and meetings are open to the general public unless specifically authorized by law. The specifics of these basic laws can be found in the North Dakota Century Code. 

North Dakota state has 7 million government records on file. However, some may contain redacted information. Closed meetings that typically fall under redaction include:

  • Juvenile proceedings
  • Attorney consultations during pending litigation
  • Hiring/firing of college or university personnel
  • Non-renewal hearings between school board and teachers

Both residents and non-residents can submit requests for records in the state of North Dakota. The state law doesn’t specify a response time for requests.

If a request for records is denied, you have 30 days to appeal for an Attorney General’s ruling, and 60 days for a lawsuit. If you don’t receive records in a timely manner, an appeal can be filed through civil courts. 

NorthDakota.gov has more information.

How can a person access public records in North Dakota?

In some cases, you need to submit a formal request for a public document. In other cases, online databases provide 24/7 access without any request necessary.  

If a physical request is needed, it can be mailed, emailed, or you can place an order over the phone to the department holding the records. With each department different, expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple agencies. 

In general, a public records request should include the following: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead. 

North Dakota criminal records

North Dakota maintains criminal records that are accessible by the general public, no matter how old, including charges that have been dismissed, those that did not end in conviction, those with no court disposition, and jail or prison custody records that are less than three years old.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a detailed report of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. These records are culled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s nine prisons. 

More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birth date, nationality, etc.
  • A mugshot and full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features (tattoos, birthmarks, and other physical attributes)
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find North Dakota criminal records?

As required by law, state agencies and professional licensing boards require applicants to complete a criminal history record check before employment or licensure. Criminal history checks in North Dakota may be finger-print based or name-based. 

Name-based searches will not identify records if a subject has been arrested under a different name. Fingerprint-based searches will identify arrest records even if the name is under an unknown alias. Fingerprints must be obtained through your local law enforcement agency. 

The following information is needed for a criminal history check:

  • Full name, including maiden name, previous name, and any aliases
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number or fingerprints of the subject
  • Current address of the subject or signed authorization form

North Dakota inmate records

North Dakota’s prison system consists of four prisons, and their inmate records contain official files, data, and information about inmates held, detained, or imprisoned in facilities that are managed by the city, county, state, or any other municipality. 

What’s on an inmate record?

The information listed on inmate records varies a bit from state to state. In North Dakota, the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find North Dakota inmate records?

Through the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, interested parties can find inmates houses in the North Dakota Corrections facilities. Simply visit the website, then enter the offender’s last name to begin a search. 

North Dakota court records

The court records are available to the general public in North Dakota and provide full documentation of allegations, sworn affidavits, and all proceedings taken under oath. The information compiled below can assist you in accessing court records that are held across the courts in the state, including the North Dakota Supreme Court.

What’s on a court record?

In the majority of cases, court records are quite large and come with several documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes
  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgement documentation
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find North Dakota court records?

Searches for court records can be done online at the State of North Dakota Courts. A district court case search provides access to North Dakota District Court Case information for all criminal, traffic, and civil cases, with search results that also include municipal court cases from specific areas. Search results do not include restricted case information, so a complete description of the data and the counties are available here.

The site also provides information on court dates and times. Records can also be accessed via the clerk in the county where a record is located. Court clerks are the custodians of state court records and maintain their integrity and completeness. Although most court records are accessible to the public, there are certain case types that are subject to confidentiality by law or court ruling. 

The case records and calendars are only displayed for the courts currently inputting data into the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry system (NDCRI), which is limited to case search results civil judgments, registers of civil action, and court calendars for publicly accessible court case records. 

North Dakota vital records

North Dakota, like most states, has an office in charge of maintaining birth records, marriage records, and death records. The North Dakota Department of Health manages all of the birth certificates and death certificates in the state. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

A request for information can be done via the North Dakota Vital Records site, where interested parties can provide relevant information about a specific record. This information may include:

  • The location of the event
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The full name of the person, including maiden names 
  • A case file number for divorce records
  • The license number listed on marriage licenses

Where can a person find North Dakota vital records?

Requests for copies of records must be done in writing and made via mail, online forms, or in-person. There is also the possibility to request and purchase records online or receive them through the mail. 

Records are available for purchase from the North Dakota Vital Records State Department of Health or in the County Clerk’s office where the event occurred. The processing time per request is approximately one week, with search and certified copies available for $7 each plus shipping. 

Frequently asked questions about North Dakota records

To further assist your public records search in North Dakota, here’s a list of commonly asked questions: 

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes. You don’t need to live in Bismarck or Grand Forks to request state records. Anyone, including people who live out-of-state, have the right to request records.

Is there a records custodian in North Dakota?

No.

What exemptions exist?

There is a comprehensive list of exemptions for the state of North Dakota, and even routine requests can sometimes lead to an appeal if an officer is so inclined. Exemptions include:

  • Juvenile records
  • Trade secrets
  • Workers compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Public employee medical records
  • Assistance records
  • Law enforcement investigation records
  • Tax information

With records generally available to the public unless exempted, the current list is expansive and can be read here.  

How long does that state have to respond?

There is no prescribed time frame for how long an agency in the state of North Dakota has to produce requested records. In general, a request for records can take approximately a week to process. 

In the worst case scenario, a requester can sue in order to have documents made public. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

There is an appeal process by way of the Attorney General’s office. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Generally, access to public records is free, although some offices may charge $0.25 cents per page for a standard letter or legal size paper. 

  • Updated October 26, 2020
  • States

Missouri Public Records

There are a variety of reasons someone might want to access public records in Missouri ranging from tracing their family tree to locating an inmate and everything in between. 

As you may have found searching—or finding—public records isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the information you want is handled by different departments or, due to exclusions, isn’t available to the public at all.

Luckily, Missouri has something called the Missouri Sunshine Law, which aims for transparency from public agencies and provides relatively few exemptions (compared to other states) to your right to access public records.

To assist you in tracking down specific public records in the (somewhat aptly named) “Show-Me State,” we’ve put together a guide to finding criminal, court, inmate and vital records in Missouri.

What does the Missouri public records law say?

After the Freedom of Information Act was passed, Missouri became one of the first states to create its own open records act. The Missouri Sunshine Law requires that “meetings, records, votes, action, and deliberations of public governmental bodies are to be open to the public.” Documents can be requested by anyone and you’re not required to explain why you want them.

How can a person access public records in Missouri?

The National Freedom of Information Coalition provides a sample records request letter that anyone can use and submit to a record-holding department—typically by mail, fax or email. 

This template requires some important pieces of information:

  • Your name, mailing address and phone number
  • A detailed description of the record (or information) you are seeking
  • A paragraph about fees (with a request to waive the fees if you’re a member of the media). You may need to research fees and include a check for the amount listed on the specific agency’s website.
  • A request to have the agency contact if the record response will take more than the three-day requirement
  • In the case of a denial to provide the record, a request to cite the exemption

Missouri criminal records

Of all the states to help you find criminal records, Missouri is one of the best in terms of accessibility, ease and cost. Whether you’re an employer needing to do a background check on a potential employee or just checking to ensure that a creepy volunteer at your school’s bake sale doesn’t have a criminal history, you’ve got options to do some basic research. The following information can help you access basic criminal records in Missouri or, in some cases, do a full-on fingerprint-based search.

What’s on a criminal record?

Sometimes called a “rap sheet,” a criminal record is a summary of someone’s criminal history. These records are prepared by state and local law enforcement agencies, detention facilities and courts. In Missouri, the document will list the person’s interactions with the law, and the following information will be provided to you:  

  • The name of the person, as well as any known aliases
  • Personal information (e.g., date of birth, race and sex)
  • A mugshot
  • Current and previous indictments
  • Arrest reports, including outstanding warrants
  • Conviction records

Where can a person find Missouri criminal records?

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division serves as the custodian of criminal history information for the state. The Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS) provides two portals: one for searching criminal history by name and one for searching by fingerprint.

The name-based search can help anyone find public records. It’s less formal (and less accurate) than a fingerprint check, but it will provide you with information on any or all of the following:

  • Convictions
  • Arrests within 30 days
  • pending charges 
  • Suspended imposition of sentences during probation
  • Sex offenses, even if the offense occurred out of state

The State of Missouri’s fingerprinting services vendor is IDEMIA, which operates IdentoGO centers throughout the state. How does the service work? Anyone needing to be fingerprinted for a State or FBI criminal background check must provide a registration number from their employer or licensing agency. Fingerprint-based background checks are considered proof of identity. Although results vary based on the purpose of a background search via fingerprint, results may include open records, closed records and FBI information.

A name-based search is $14 plus any additional processing fees. For an additional $2, you can get a document notarized.

Missouri inmate records

The Missouri Department of Corrections supervises 27,000 people in 22 institutional facilities, as well as another 62,000 who are on probation and parole. 

What’s on an inmate record?

You can obtain information on any Missouri inmate who is currently incarcerated, under post-incarceration supervision or who has been discharged from a sentence. You can’t, however, use the state’s database to get information on inmates sent to Missouri under the provisions of the interstate compact agreement. Public information on inmates includes:

  • Name and aliases
  • Age, sex, race
  • Date of Birth
  • Height and weight
  • DOC ID
  • Booking photo
  • Assigned location
  • Sentence summary
  • Active and completed offenses

Where can a person find Missouri inmate records?

Missouri Department of Corrections hosts a dedicated web portal for the public to search for offenders under its supervision. This includes active offenders, probationers and parolees, but does not include information on discharged offenders. 

The portal lets you search by Department of Corrections (DOC) ID or first/last name. 

Missouri court records

With a few exceptions, court records are available for the public to search and view and provide detailed case information. The information in the database is gathered from the Missouri Supreme Court, Eastern Appellate, Southern Appellate, Western Appellate and individual circuit courts.

What’s on a court record?

Court records show the following information:

  • Civil cases: attorneys’ names and address; future pending calendar dates; case number and type; year of birth; disposition type; docket entries; file date; garnishments or executions; trial judge assigned and at disposition; judgment/appellate decision and date; party name, address and type; satisfaction of judgment; changes of venue information
  • Paternity cases: attorneys’ names and addresses; party name and type; judgments
  • Criminal cases: attorney and defendant name and address; bond amount; future pending calendar dates; case number and type; charges; year of birth; defendant name/address; disposition type; docket entries; file and disposition date; judgment and judgment date; law enforcement agency; offense cycle number; sentence and sentence date; trial judge/commissioner assigned and at disposition; violation code, date and description
  • Adult and child protection order cases: similar to civil cases if a judgment for full order is entered, but without showing the petitioner’s name, address or other identifying information

Where can a person find Missouri court records?

The Missouri state courts provide an automated case management system called Case.net that lets anyone search for information on docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court. 

There are a variety of search methods that you can use to find the information you need in the database, including:

  • Litigant name 
  • Filing date
  • Case number 
  • Schedule hearings/trials (this includes searching by judge/commissioner or attorney)
  • Judgment index 
  • Pay By Web (to pay court costs and fees online)

Missouri vital records

Missouri’s Department of Health & Senior Services keeps vital records for the state. These are not open to the general public but rather copies are provided to specifically defined entities or individuals to prevent fraud, protect identities, and preserve the integrity of the records. Only people with a “direct and tangible interest” in the record can receive a certified copy of a vital record in Missouri.

In Missouri, vital records include birth and death records; marriage licenses and divorce licenses; original pre-adoptive birth certificates; fetal death/certificate of stillbirth; and statement of single status. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Depending on the type of vital record you’re requesting and how it’s being requested (i.e., mail, in person, online or by phone), be prepared to provide the following information:

  • A primary document (e.g., state-issued driver’s license or ID card, passport or military ID)
  • The date of the birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc.
  • The full name of the person whose record you are requesting, including maiden names 
  • Your interest in obtaining the vital record

Where can a person find Missouri vital records?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior services uses VitalChek to fulfill online and phone orders for vital records. VitalChek is able to verify an identity electronically by using a public records search function.

Although it’s possible to request certified copies in person at your local health department or from the Department of Health and Senior Services in Jefferson City, you should call first to ensure the office is open and accepting appointments during COVID-19.

Frequently asked questions about Missouri records

Missouri may be one of the most impressive states in terms of ease of access to public records. With that said, you may still have questions. Here are a few of the FAQs people have:

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes. Whether you live in St. Louis, Kansas City or New York City, you can request records in Missouri.

While many records are open to the general public, some vital records have limits on who can request certificates based on their purpose or relationship to the record-holder.

Is there a records custodian in Missouri?

According to the Missouri Secretary of State, each one of the government agencies appoints its own custodian.

What exemptions exist?

There are some exemptions to accessing public records. The Digital Media Law Project lists them here.

How long does that state have to respond?

The Missouri Sunshine Law gives the state three days to respond to a request. 

Are property records public?

Yes. To access real estate records, speak with the Recorder of Deeds in your county. In some counties, the Recorder of Deeds offers a searchable database like this one in Jackson County.

Is there an appeals process?

You can sue a public body within one year of being denied access to a public record.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

A public body may charge $.10/page for copies and possibly research time or the hourly rate to pay clerical staff for their time.

  • Updated October 26, 2020
  • States

Tennessee Public Records

The Tennessee Public Records Act allows for citizens to hold the government accountable by providing access to its public records. While it allows for transparency, there are 583 exemptions in their law. 

Technology today has made it easier for citizens to search public records. Whether you need a background check on an employee, or you need a copy of a birth certificate so you can get a passport, Tennessee Public Records is the place to search.  

This guide will help you find and access criminal, inmate, court and vital records in the state of Tennessee. 

What does the Tennessee public records law say?

As a Tennessee citizen, you have the right to access “Public Records”, such as letters, maps,  paper files, books, photographs, sound recordings, or other materials. The law applies to every governmental entity, however, some records may have redaction if they contain confidential information. 

Tennessee does require you to be a citizen to obtain state records. If you are from out-of-state, a request can be denied immediately. Many of the agencies want to see your state photo ID with a current address before they grant your request.

While Tennessee considers many documents to be “public”, under Tennessee law, 563 exemptions of documents exist. Several types of information exempted are youth records, expungements, medical records, mental health files, trade secrets, social security numbers, or voter information. You can obtain records from all judicial, executive, and legislative branches in Tennessee.

The state law says response time for requests is seven days. There is no appeals process but a lawsuit can be filed to obtain the records.  

To learn more about the state’s public records policy, visit TN.gov.

How can a person access public records in Tennessee?

For copies of public records access in Tennessee, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, email, or by phone to the record-holding department. 

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. 

In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to the coronavirus, some public offices may have limited business hours. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.

Tennessee criminal records

To have the most complete information on a potential employee, a background check will be the best bet. If you run your own business, you don’t want to hire someone who will do irreparable harm to your brand name, or cause a lawsuit. To find the most up-to-date information on a person’s criminal record, we’ve provided you with this information.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal report will be checked against the 14 prisons in Tennessee. Details on arrests, convictions, and incarcerations will be listed. The Tennessee criminal records are based on fingerprints. 

Specific information provided on a background check will include:

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthday, nationality, etc.  
  • A mugshot 
  • A physical description including tattoos
  • A set of fingerprints
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find Tennessee criminal records?

To access open records on criminals, fill out your information (name, address) on the online request form and include your credit card information. The cost for a criminal history background is $29.00 per request and is non-refundable. Enter the first and last name of the person you are seeking.  

Tennessee inmate records

Tennessee inmate records will provide you with information on the current prisoners in the system.  Records show that in 2018, Tennessee’s 14 state prisons held 22,130 individuals for state felony offenses. 

What’s on an inmate record?

Tennessee inmate records are usually a combination of the inmate’s prison situation including the prisoner’s sentence and a physical description. Citizens who initiate a search for Inmate records can receive the following information:

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birth date, and gender
  • A photo
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Active sentences
  • Parole eligibility

Where can a person find Tennessee inmate records?

You can begin your public records search by entering the first and last name of the inmate or by the Tennessee Department of Corrections ID number. If you know the inmate has been fingerprinted, that inmate will have a state ID number from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

Tennessee court records

Since court trials occur in different jurisdictions in the state it is sometimes difficult to track down the records you desire. We have broken down the state courts by the various trials they perform so you can pinpoint where to search. You can obtain documents from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of Criminal Appeals through the Tennessee case management system. The information in the appellate courts is dated after August, 26,2013, and includes motions, order, and judgments.  

The Supreme Court is the highest in Tennessee. The cases here tend to be criminal and court cases that have been appealed from the lower state courts. 

The Intermediate Appellate Court cases are ones that have been appealed from trial courts and include civil and criminal cases. 

Trial courts include a chancery, criminal, circuit, and probate courts. The circuit court will hear criminal and civil trials. In Tennessee, the criminal court takes on cases to lighten the load of the circuit court system and misdemeanor appeals. Probate courts deal in estates, wills, conservatorship, and guardianship. 

What’s on a court record?

The  court records you receive when you request will contain the following:

  • Name of all parties
  • Court orders
  • Events of the trial
  • Disposition and case information
  • Hearing dates
  • Reference numbers of related cases

Where can a person find Tennessee court records?

You will need to enter the record by the case number, the case style (ex. Smith vs Acme), the party name (Fred Smith), or the business name or organization (Acme) for your search. 

Tennessee vital records

Your most valuable certificates should be kept in a place where you can always locate them, such as an at-home safe or bank lockbox. Let’s say you want to purchase a house and the bank asks for your marriage certificate. You can’t find it because you just threw it in a box of papers at home. Don’t worry. The Tennessee Office of Vital Records holds documents such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. 

The law states that only the person named on the certificate, parent, legal guardian, adult children of the couple, or a present or former spouse can request the records. To run a vital records search we have included information and resources below. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

When you order by mail, you need to present a valid government ID with a current address and an application form. If you are an authorized representative for a person, you will need to furnish a signed government ID card for both you and the person you represent and a signed statement saying the certificate can be released to you. 

Where can a person find Tennessee vital records?

VitalChek is the only authorized vendor by the state of Tennessee. Each certificate varies on the requirements, but for example, a marriage certificate would require the full name of both persons, the date, month, and year of marriage, the city, state, or county where the license was issued, and the reason for your order. Payment can be made by credit card. Your full address is required as they will not deliver to a PO Box. It will take approximately 3-5 days with express delivery and 7-10 days with regular mail. 

Frequently asked questions about Tennessee records

We have compiled a list of common questions that are asked about Tennessee records.

Accordingly, a request may be denied if it does not sufficiently identify specific records or broadly requires a records custodian to sort through files or compile information.

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

No. Only a citizen of Tennessee can request public records. A valid government-issued ID must be shown. If you are not a citizen of a Tennessee-based city like Nashville or Memphis your request will most likely be denied. 

Is there a records custodian in Tennessee?

Yes. All agencies with public records are required to have a records custodian in that agency. Be specific on your request because the custodian may deny the record search if there is not enough information.

What exemptions exist?

Tennessee has over 500 exemptions which may make it difficult to obtain some documents, but none of the public agencies are exempt. 

How long does that state have to respond?

Tennessee has seven business days to make the records available to you or deny them. A denial must be made in writing and must include the reason why the request was denied. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

While you can appeal to the Supervisor of Public Records, there is no provision for appeals. A lawsuit can be filed to obtain the documents.

Are property records considered public?

Yes. Real estate records are public, along with property tax information. These records can be found by contacting the county assessor. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Tennessee fees are $0.15 per page for a black and white copy. For colored copies expect to pay $0.50 per page. They do not charge for the first hour of record searching or copying. If it takes longer than an hour, Tennessee will charge you a fee based on how much the employee doing the copying makes per hour. If you do not pay for your records if attempting to pick them up, you will be denied access to the records. Online payments are through credit cards.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States