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Utah

The role of public records is crucial in an open government. While the Freedom of Information Act grants federal access to documents, each state has its own laws as well. 

Public records in Utah are governed by the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). As you might expect, the law can be a little confusing. As with many states, records are often held by different agencies, which makes locating records difficult. Once located, the process to request records varies.

To help requesters gain access to Utah public records, this guide will provide valuable information to obtain criminal, inmate, court, and vital records.  

What does the Utah public records law say?

Each of the states has different policies and laws. In Utah, all government branches are subject to the law, and any member of the public can view records.

However, there are some exemptions. Records that contain any private information like medical records, addresses of elected officials, or details about government employees are exempted from open record laws.

Usually, a government agency responds to requests in ten days. If a media outlet makes a request, it’s usually answered a little faster; within 5 business days. 

If a request is denied, there is an appeals process. A requester can file a complaint with the head of the agency and the State Records Committee. If the case goes further, it ends up in district court. 

You can learn more about conducting a public records search at Utah.gov.

How can a person access public records in Utah?

For public records access in Utah, you may be able to access some online. Others are held by specific agencies. In some cases, you may need to file a request form. If so, it can be filed 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. 

Utah criminal records

The summary of a person’s criminal history is known as a criminal record. It’s also referred to as a rap sheet, which consists of convictions and arrests. These records are maintained by local law enforcement agencies. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record is the history of the individual that gives complete details related to the person’s interaction with law enforcement. Various resources are used to pull these records and ensure that the person’s previous arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations are recorded for the future. 

Information that is recorded within the criminal record more specifically includes:

  • The personal information of a person, for example, name, date of birth, nationality, etc. 
  • Biometrics of the person, including fingerprints and the mug shot. 
  • Highlights the distinguishing feature of an individual like physical attributes or any other tattoos.
  • Details regarding the type of crime. 

Where can a person find Utah criminal records?

The state of Utah has certain rules when it comes to requesting criminal records. Only certain businesses can gain access. Businesses that work with children, like a childcare center, or any state or local government can run a background check. Other private companies aren’t allowed to request records. However, a company can ask that an employee request his or her own record, which must be accompanied by a set of fingerprints.

The link above has more information and explains who can and can’t access records.

Utah inmate records

Utah inmate records contain information regarding a person’s current and past incarceration status. These documents can also include sentencing information. 

Maintenance of these documents is generally done by the Utah Department of the Corrections. 

What’s on an inmate record?

Inmate records contain an individual’s name, mugshot, and physical attributes. Furthermore, it also contains detailed information regarding an inmate’s conviction, incarceration, and the prospective release dates.

Where can a person find Utah inmate records?

Utah inmate records are maintained by the Department of Corrections. You can access information by visiting the website above and filling out the online form. You need the inmate’s first and last name or the inmate’s ID number. You’ll receive an immediate response if there’s a record on the inmate that you searched. 

Utah court records

Court records are recorded by the courts themselves. Information provided in court records includes allegation documents, proceeding, and affidavits that are taken under oath.

What’s on a court record?

A court record usually contains specific information that was presented during a trial. You’ll find copies of evidence, witness testimonies, and expert reports inside court records. Think of court records as a complete summary of a case. 

Where can a person find Utah court records?

Utah, unlike other states, has an online database of court records that’s easy to search. You can run an appellate docket search, look through appellate court records, or browse district court records. If you’re looking for a case that’s more than 50 years old, you’ll need to look through archived records.

While many records are available online, you may be directed to a clerk of court or a county clerk if a record is missing or not electronically logged into the Utah state courts system. 

To access supreme court records, visit the Utah Supreme Court website.

Utah vital records

Birth records, death records, marriage records, and divorce records are included in vital records. These records are maintained back to 1905 and can be accessed when ordered in person, through email, or requested online. 

For marriages that took place after 2011, certificates can also be obtained from the county where the event took place. However, many agencies are requesting that people place orders online due COVID-19.

Only the person listed on a vital record or a family member can obtain these records in Utah.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

When requesting other records, providing your personal information isn’t necessary. When you request a vital record, however, it is necessary. You must be listed on the record or be of blood relation to the person listed on the record. 

Where can a person find Utah vital records?

Vital statistics and records can be requested online. Many government agencies, including the Utah Department of Health, are encouraging residents to use the online ordering feature to limit the number of people inside of buildings due to the Coronavirus. 

To request a vital record, you’ll need to create an online account, prove your identity, and pay a fee. Certified copies of birth certificates or death certificates are mailed to your home, but it usually takes 2-8 weeks to receive them. 

Frequently asked questions about Utah records

There are lots of questions about utilizing the state’s records service. To provide further assistance, here’s a list of frequently asked questions that should further explain the Utah code.

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

Utah does not have a residency requirement in its constitution. In other words, you can live anywhere in the United States and request public records.

Is there a records custodian in Utah?

Yes. The state law does appoint a records custodian or an ombudsman who can handle all requests. 

What exemptions exist?

Utah’s public records law is fairly open. The only time records are restricted or exempt from the law is if they contain personal information or can impact public security. 

How long does that state have to respond?

In Utah, a state agency has ten business days to respond to a public request and five business days to respond to a request from the media.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Yes. Utah does have several administrative appeals options. A requester can file a complaint with the head of the public agency that holds the records or file a complaint with the State Records Committee in Salt Lake City. If these options don’t work, a case can be filed in district court. 

Are property records considered public?

Yes. Real estate transactions and unclaimed property are both considered public information. Most counties in the state, like Utah County, have an online database that can be searched online. If the records are older, consider visiting the Utah State Archives for more information.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Utah’s law says a state agency can charge a “reasonable fee to cover the actual cost of obtaining the record.” This language is meant to keep fees low. 

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States

Oregon

With the creation of open record laws like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it’s easier than ever to access documents that were once unavailable to the general public. That’s not to say finding criminal, court, inmate or vital records in Oregon is always simple; only that access to public records has improved over the past few decades.

In the Beaver State, the Oregon Public Records Law was designed to guarantee that members of the public have access to documents from every government agency at all levels. Sometimes, the information is exempt from the Oregon Public Meetings Law or the Oregon Public Records Law. Other times, the information falls under the public records umbrella but is harder to track down because it’s handled by different agencies or departments. 

Use this guide to help you track down the specific Oregon public records you seek. Whether it’s proof of a divorce, a court case, an incarcerated ex or birth record, this guide can help narrow down your search to save time. 

What does the Oregon public records law say?

Enacted in 1973, the Oregon Public Records Law is similar to the federal law and says that a public record includes “any writing that contains information that relates to the conduct of the public’s business, is prepared, owned, used or maintained by a public body regardless of physical form or characteristics.” This does not include information contained on a privately owned computer.

To learn more about the public records law, visit Oregon.gov. 

How can a person access public records in Oregon?

One simple way to request a public record is by using the Oregon Sample FOIA Request template. Created by the National Freedom of Information Coalition, the letter can be sent to the agency that you believe holds the record. 

The sample letter provides much of the information you’ll need to improve your chances of getting a prompt response, including:

  • A place to indicate your name and contact information
  • A place to detail the public record you are seeking
  • A place to limit the maximum fees you are willing to pay (and a request to be informed if the costs will exceed that amount) 
  • A request to be contacted if the agency expects a significant delay in fulfilling the public records request
  • A request to cite each specific exemption if the request is refused
  • An explanation of the appeal procedure if the public records request is denied  

Oregon criminal records

Oregon state law provides limited public access to criminal history records through the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division in Salem. You can request a copy of your own criminal record using your fingerprints or someone else’s using their name, date of birth, and last known mailing address.

By law, the Oregonian or the individual whose record you are requesting must be notified of your request. They have 14 days to challenge the accuracy of the criminal offender information. Employers or prospective employers are required to inform the person whose criminal record they will be requesting in advance and indicate on the request form how they informed the record-holder.

What’s on a criminal record?

Unlike more detailed background checks, Oregon’s criminal record results may provide less detailed information. If there is no “rap sheet” to report, or the person’s record consists only of non-conviction data, you’ll get nothing more than a notice that there is no criminal record. If the request turns up a criminal history, you will receive any Oregon record of conviction or Oregon record of arrest less than one year old in which there has been no acquittal or dismissal. This information will include:

  • Date of arrest
  • Offense
  • Arresting agency
  • Court of origin
  • Disposition, which includes the sentence imposed and if applicable, the date of parole and parole revocations

Although requests can be made by mail or email by submitting this Request for Oregon Criminal History Information, results that include a criminal history can only be mailed (not emailed).

Where can a person find Oregon criminal records?

The Oregon State Police is the state agency that manages criminal history information for the state. Access is provided through the Oregon State Police’s CJIS Division’s own record program or open records. 

For employers seeking to do a more thorough background check on employees or prospective employees, there is another option. In 2020, Oregon started using the Oregon Criminal History and Abuse Records Data System (ORCHARDS) as its background check system. The Background Check Unit (BCU) requires employers to obtain authorization from the subject individual (SI) to perform such a check. This gives the SI time to enter the authorization and any disclosures. This is done by requiring the employer to enter an email address for the SI when submitting a background check request. 

Oregon inmate records

There are currently around 30,000 offenders under supervision in Oregon with approximately 14,900 offenders serving their time in the state’s 14 prisons. To learn more about visiting, contacting or sending money to an inmate, visit Oregon’s prison locations page.

What’s on an inmate record?

Search results will show the following information for each offender:

  • Age and month/year of birth
  • Heigh, weight, race, and hair and eye color
  • Location (e.g., current correctional institution)
  • Status
  • Field admission date
  • Earliest release date
  • List of offenses (including docket number, county, crime, sentence type, start date and termination date)
  • VINE link for the offender

Where can a person find Oregon inmate records?

The Oregon Department of Corrections hosts a searchable web portal that the public can use to find offenders in the state. This public website displays information on offenders currently in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections or a local Community Corrections office. Results only include information associated with the offender’s current incarceration; not a full history of all charges, sentences or incarcerations. Searches can be done by first, middle or last name or State Identification (SID) Number.

Oregon court records

If you have public interest in court records, many Oregon court records are available through an online record search, although there are limitations. The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) does not provide court related to adoption, juvenile or mental health cases, or cases that fall under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). 

What’s on a court record?

Court documents are not available through the OJD Online Records Search and personal identifying information—such as social security numbers, address or other private information—will not be shown in the results. However, most circuit courts have a court kiosk which provides some additional information and access to most documents on public court records. 

So what court records are available through the OJD Online Records Search?

  • Basic case information
  • Party information
  • Event entries
  • Dispositions on a particular court record

Where can a person find Oregon court records?

The Oregon Judicial Department provides free online access to limited case information in the state courts, circuit courts, court of appeals, and supreme court, although the results should not be relied upon as an official record of the court. 

There are two ways to obtain the full official register for non-confidential case types: Via the courthouse public terminals or, for some business entities, by subscribing to the OJCIN online

As for the specifics of what information search results will present, you may find:

  • Warrants (including the status, issue date, location and warrant number)
  • Cases (including the type, file date, status and location)
  • Judgments (including the date/time of judgment, type and award)

Oregon vital records

Oregon’s Public Health Division has a dedicated vital records department. The Center for Health Statistics issues requestors copies of vital records for marriages, divorces, deaths and births that occurred in Oregon. Some of these records can also be obtained through the local health department in Oregon counties.

Although the Oregon State Vital Records counters are currently closed for in-person records requests, orders are still being accepted by mail, phone and online. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

As in other states, vital records in Oregon may be accessed restricted based on the relationship of the requestor to the person of record. To order by telephone or phone, regular mail or rush mail, you may need to provide any or all of the following:

  • A valid ID or alternative ID
  • The date of the birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc.
  • The full name of the person whose record you are requesting 
  • Relationship to the person of record or your interest in obtaining the vital record

A detailed list of required information for each type of vital record can be found on Oregon’s Vital Records page.

Where can a person find Oregon vital records?

The Oregon uses VitalChek to fulfill online orders for vital records. Although the identity of the applicant is typically screened using a Social Security Number, you may be required to provide a Valid ID or alternative ID to access the public record. 

There is a nonrefundable fee of $43.25 to order a record search and additional copies of the same record are $25 if ordered at the same time. Records are shipped within three business days in most cases, although Express Mail or UPS Next Day Air is available for an additional fee. Applicants can pay by credit or debit card.

Information on ordering by phone or mail is available on the Oregon’s Vital Records page.

Frequently asked questions about Oregon records

For any United States citizen who is curious about Oregon public records, here are some of the most common questions about Oregon public records:

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

There are no residency requirements for obtaining Oregon public records. In other words, you can live in Portland or Manhattan and request records.

Is there a records custodian in Oregon?

There is no designated records custodian in Oregon.

What exemptions exist?

The exemptions in Oregon are fairly straightforward. Records that contain personal information, deal with matters of public safety, or include addresses of elected officials, for example, are all exempt from public disclosure. Most exemptions of Oregon’s Public Records Law are standard and can be found here.

How long does that state have to respond?

There is no specific deadline to respond, although the law states that agencies should be given “reasonable opportunity to inspect and copy records.”

Is there an appeals process?

There is no appeals option in the state of Oregon. While many states offer an administrative appeals option through the attorney general, Oregon does not. A requester can, however, file a lawsuit. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fees must be kept to the actual costs of searching and copying records. Agencies must provide the requestor with an estimate if the fee will exceed $25 before proceeding. There are fee waivers for media outlets.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States
2

Georgia

There are many records you can legally access as an American citizen. Records can be kept by a vast number of government agencies, and you could feel like you are running in circles to find the right agency for the record you are trying to obtain. 

While having everything online makes it easier to access records, there could be some agencies that don’t offer this an option. Generally, any public record can be obtained using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter of request submitted to the agency with the record. 

Records can be difficult to track, so this article provides some helpful information on how to find criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records in the state of Georgia.

What does the Georgia public records law say?

Open records under Uniform Court Rule 21 applies to all three branches of Georgia’s government including executive, legislative and judicial. However, there are specific exemptions where you can’t ask for public records that include:

  • National historic places
  • Wildlife refuges
  • Security plans or measures that fall under homeland security
  • Sports records of those under the age of 12
  • Certain real estate documents where a government agency is trying to buy or construct on land

In Georgia, officials and agencies have three business days to respond to your FOIA request. The state no longer is allowed to charge search and retrieval costs because of the 1991 court case Trammell v. Martin. The copying cost can run $.25 per page, but that is the limit. There could be an exception if there is an unusual time, effort, and cost in searching and retrieval, but the state must let you know in advance of any unusual circumstances or cost.

If a request is denied, a requester has a few options. You can file a complaint with the attorney general or you can file a civil or criminal case in court to fight the decision. 

To learn more, visit the official website of the state, Georgia.gov. 

How can a person access public records in Georgia?

Some records are online while others must be requested using an open records request form. If a formal request is needed, it can be sent via email, mail, 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.

Georgia criminal records

People may want to see someone’s criminal record for several different types of reasons. The most common reason is employment as most employers require potential employees to agree to a background check before hiring. Other reasons could be to check someone out before dating them or because a family member is dating them. It could also be helpful if you are planning to bring someone on as a business partner. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record is a list of someone’s arrests, convictions and sentences as reported by law enforcement and the courts. This can include arrests and charges against them, convictions and which prison or jail they served time in for a conviction. A criminal record pulls from many types of sources to put the information in one place.

Pulling a criminal record will also reveal: 

  • Legal name 
  • Birthdate 
  • Residence and nationality
  • Arrests and convictions
  • Mug shot

Where can a person find Georgia criminal records?

Those seeking criminal records on any individual in Georgia must make an appointment to go to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) lobby office and speak to someone. This is where record inspections and fingerprint services are offered under the command of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)

Georgia law states that anyone can obtain a criminal history record as long as they provide signed consent of the person being researched. It must be submitted to an official from the GCIC and must include the person’s full name, address, social security number and birthdate.

Georgia inmate records

The last published statistics, which are from 2016, show there are 53,064 people in Georgia’s prison system, which puts it relatively high in nationwide ranking for the number of inmates houses. It’s national rate is 512 per 100,000 people who face sentences of more than a year in 2016.

People may want to see an inmate’s record for several reasons including employment or if they are a crime victim.

What’s on an inmate record?

States are different in exactly what is on an inmate record, but Georgia is typical as there is certain personal information all states include in this type of public record. That information is:

  • A mug shot
  • The inmate’s name, birthdate and gender
  • An inmate registration number
  • The location of where they are incarcerated
  • Their custody status
  • Jail transfer information

Where can a person find Georgia inmate records?

There is a state website that makes it convenient to search for inmate records in Georgia. 

Using the website is simple. You can enter either the person’s name, ID number or case number to search. However, someone using the site must agree to its terms of use which includes acknowledgement that some records may not be complete.

If you request the record, it’s your responsibility to verify the information by writing a request to the Inmate Records and Information office located at P.O. Box 1529, Forsyth, Georgia 30129.

Georgia court records

State court records can include a lot of information regarding any connection a person has with the courts or a case. Records can include probate issues such as death and divorce records, bankruptcy, civil court matters and criminal court records. Each of these types of records are held in different places, so you will need to know where to look but many are a part of public record.

What’s on a court record?

There can be stacks of court records regarding a person or a case and there are many different types of documents to sort through. Some of the most common records sought out are documents of judgements, court orders and jury records and files. Other records can include:

  • Case files
  • Court minutes
  • Dockets
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find Georgia court records?

This Georgia website consolidates each county’s civil and criminal cases into one place. You click under the county where the case is and can file and research the case. You must register for an account at the provider’s link though but registration is free.

State and local court records are stored at the courthouses in each Georgia County, under the specific court that heard the case. Most are available through the county clerk’s office, which tends to handle all records. You can call the court clerk in the county where the record may be to arrange for a time and method of obtaining court records.

Georgia vital records

All states, including Georgia, have a division dedicated to vital records. These are personal records that include birth documents, marriage certificates and death certificates. It can also include adoption records.

People seek out vital records usually when they need them for a personal issue. They may need a birth certificate to get married or obtain a passport or may be doing genealogy research on their family. Vital records are relatively simple to get.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Every person requesting a vital record in Georgia must have some information to narrow their search and request the correct record. Information needs to  include:

  • The date or date range of the life event
  • The event’s location as in city or county
  • The full name of the person being searched, including maiden names
  • A license number for a marriage record
  • A case file number for divorce documentation

Where can a person find Georgia vital records?

Georgia has an office called the Department of Public Health State Office of Vital Records where these types of records can be found. Not all marriage records are held there as Georgia onl has marriage records from 1952 to 1996. Local probate courts have other marriage records, especially newer marriage certificates. Death records are available through the state office.

The department can confirm divorces, but a person seeking paper records of a divorce decree must go to the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the divorce occurred to request a copy.

Frequently asked questions about Georgia records

Those who need more information may find these FAQs helpful.

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

Yes, any United State citizen, whether they live in Atlanta or Denver, can request records. However, but this wasn’t always the case. The citizenship requirement was removed from the Georgia Open Records Act in 2012. 

Is there a records custodian in Georgia?

No, there isn’t a general records custodian or ombudsman in Georgia. 

What exemptions exist?

There are several exemptions to public records’ access in Georgia including documentation on national historic places, wildlife refuges, security plans or measures that fall under homeland security, sports records of those under the age of 12 and some real estate documents where a government agency is trying to buy or build.

How long does that state have to respond?

In Georgia, a government agency has three days to respond to your FOIA request. However, due to the Coronavirus, agencies are informing those seeking information that it could take longer to process your request and provide you with an answer.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Someone denied an open records request can file a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s office or file a civil or criminal action in the court overseeing the records. In some cases, that could be the Georgia Supreme Court, a federal court, or a local superior court for criminal and some civil matters, as well as a local magistrate court or probate court.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Changes in Georgia’s laws prevent agencies from charging hefty search and retrieval costs. The most that can be charged is $.25 per page copy. There are some rare cases where a search and retrieval cost is required should the document be hard to find. The agency with the record is required to notify you of an anticipated cost when they send a response to a FOIA inquiry.

  • Updated December 8, 2020
  • States
1

Colorado

All fifty states have open public records and Colorado is no exception. 

Public records are a key source to keep our government running efficiently and transparently. Some records you seek will be found at the state government level where others will require you to contact a county government department. 

We have found all the information you need in order to request Colorado criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records. 

What does the Colorado public records law say?

Anyone in the United States can request a public record from the three branches of government in Colorado, under The Colorado Open Records Act or “CORA.” 

Most records or writings can be requested unless it is a juvenile record, mental health case, or is protected under a statue of the state. The records are open to inspection in a variety of ways. They can be mailed, faxed, and some can be accessed online.  

Physical and electronic records are available to request including maps, photos, digital data, emails, documents, books, and recordings. 

You do not have the right to ask for the papers to be mailed to you in a specific format, for example on a thumb drive. The government agency will determine what format will be sent or be open for your inspection. 

Another note of importance is that government employees are prohibited by law from explaining or offering their opinion on the records you request. 

How can a person access public records in Colorado?

To conduct public records search in the state of Colorado, 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 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.

Colorado criminal records

Most of the time, employers want to look at criminal records to background check a new employee. 

Most criminal records are public in Colorado. However, some records have specific information that can be withheld. Examples of information that is redacted are Social Security numbers, names of minor children, email accounts, and financial institution account numbers.   

What’s on a criminal record?

Colorado criminal records contain the criminal’s name and aliases, the charges filed against the subject, and a detailed physical description including tattoos. Other information on the record, besides a person’s criminal history, could include:

  • Date of birth
  • Photograph/mugshot
  • Fingerprints
  • Current and past addresses
  • Former arrest records
  • Current and past warrants

Where can a person find Colorado criminal records?

The state gives people access to criminal records through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. You can log onto the website and conduct a search for $5 per search. All states charge a fee to access this kind of record. 

The record only includes crimes that a person was fingerprinted for, so small violations like a traffic ticket won’t be on the record. 

Colorado inmate records

Colorado’s Department of Corrections maintains and stores all of the records on its inmates. Colorado houses approximately 18,419 inmates at twenty-two state and two private prisons. 

What’s on an inmate record?

As you look into an inmate’s record, expect to find various information depending on the county or region. There will be specific details about the inmate’s incarceration circumstances and possibly a previous incarceration. The records you receive will provide the following information:

  • Inmate’s name and status
  • Court name
  • Incarceration date
  • Sentence Type
  • Convicted offense including the degree of offense
  • Expected release date 
  • Housing facility
  • Photos

Where can a person find Colorado inmate records?

The Colorado Department of Corrections website has details on how to find an inmate and up-to-date information on policies. The policies can cover regulations for visitations or how to send money. 

You need to know the first and last name of the inmate or the inmate’s six-character ID number to conduct an online search for an inmate.  

Colorado court records

Access has been granted to Colorado Public Records since 1969, which includes court documents. Court records fall into two categories: Civil and criminal court records. 

Civil court examples are liability suits, nonpayment for goods, landlord vs. tenant issues, car accidents, and divorce proceedings. Bankruptcy is a civil court record. 

Criminal case examples are robbery, dealing drugs, kidnapping, burglary, gambling, and include violent crimes like murder and rape. 

What’s on a court record?

You can request several types of court records from a court case. Court records are extensive, especially if the case took a long time to conclude. You will find the following documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes examples can include estate settlements, licenses for businesses, tax and public building information, and land matters.
  • Case files can contain copies of evidence, writs, testimony, and subpoenas 
  • Court dockets
  • Orders of the court or the decision as decided by the judge 
  • Judgment documentation and when the case is closed
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation
  • Appointment of guardians

Where can a person find Colorado court records?

The Colorado State Archives has an online searchable database for some court records. To access the records, you need to know a name, year, case type, case number, or the county the case was heard in. If you’re ready to make a formal request, you can submit this form to the state. 

If the state archives doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can also request records from the state’s trial courts, county courts, district courts, appeals court, and the Colorado State Supreme Court. Start your hunt for districts by visiting the Colorado Judicial Branch website, 

Colorado vital records

Vital records mark life’s milestones, like birth, marriage, death, and divorce. 

If you are the type of person that stashes important documents away and then can’t find them again, you can get another copy at the Colorado State Vital Records Office of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

You can obtain marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce certificates, and birth certificates from this office. Some records you can obtain online and others will be mailed or faxed. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To request a copy of a vital record, you can complete your request in person, online, by mail, fax, or phone. 

You need to provide the following information:

  • Application 
  • Current photo ID
  • Full name of the person or persons listed on the application
  • Date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the individual(s)

Where can a person find Colorado vital records?

Events that happened between the following dates are filed with the Colorado State Vital Records Office. 

  • Birth certificates from 1910 to present
  • Death records from 1900 to present
  • Marriage certificates from 1900 to present
  • Divorce records from 1851 to present

Charges vary from $17.00 to $17.75 for the first copy and can increase in cost to $50 for an heirloom birth or marriage certificate. The more expensive heirloom birth or marriage certificates have special designs, are often engraved with an embossed seal and are printed on quality paper. There may be additional convenience fees especially for transmitting pages and postage. 

Frequently asked questions about Colorado records

To help you expedite your records, we have compiled a list of FAQs.

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

Anyone can request a public record, according to the Colorado Open Records Act. Whether you live in Denver or New York City, you can request a record. There is no state residency requirement. 

Is there a records custodian in Colorado?

No. There is not one specific custodian of records in Colorado. The custodian is the director or head of the agency who has personal control and custody of the records. This can be a government agency or department in Colorado. 

What exemptions exist?

Records that would not be released to you are ones that are contrary to state or federal statutes. A ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court or by the order of any court could cause an exemption. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The Colorado Secretary of State’s website says the Secretary of State’s office will make every effort to respond within three working days of a request. There may be a seven-day extension added to certain records. If clarification is needed to complete your request, it will take longer for you to receive them. The records will be made available for 30 days in a public office if you are viewing them in person and after that, the record will be closed again. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

No. Colorado does not have a process for an appeal. Once you are denied or do not receive the information you are seeking, litigation would be the only means to obtain this information.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fees do apply to your request. The fees can vary and depend upon the time needed to locate and copy the records. If it requires more than one hour for a staffer to find the files, redact personal information and copy them, an hourly fee of $30.00 can be charged. If you have a lot of pages to copy, the fees add up quickly. The agency requires an advance deposit before they begin the request. Once the request is completed, it must be paid for in full before the agency will conduct a records search for you.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States

Illinois

There are many reasons for seeking public records. Citizens may want to know how their elected officials voted on a particular issue or a crime victim may want to know when the perpetrator will be released. Each state has different laws and navigating them can be tough, especially if you don’t know where to look or how to request information. Here is some information to help you seek public records in Illinois.

What does the Illinois public records law say?

When you submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, government agencies have five business days to respond. Anyone from any state may request public information found in Illinois.  Requests can be made in person, verbally, by email or mail. Some agencies have specific requirements. There is a detailed list of reasons for denial and any denials for information must cite one of those reasons. All branches of the state government are subject to open records but there are more than 25 categories of broad, detailed exemptions. 

To learn more about the Freedom of Information Act in the Illinois Constitution, visit the secretary of state website.

How can a person access public records in Illinois?

For public records access in Illinois, some records are available online while others might 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. 

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.

Illinois criminal records

Criminal records are accessible in Illinois but may be in a variety of places. Those seeking a criminal background check are commonly employers looking to hire a specific person. Below is some information to make the search easier.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record is a list of times where a person had some dealings with law enforcement or the courts. This combines information from several places including local law enforcement, courts and the state prison system. It can include times, dates and charges in arrests, how the case was settled in court and any prison time served.

  • There are four things all criminal records in every state will contain:
  • Personal information such as their nationality, birthday and legal name.
  • Fingerprints and a mugshot
  • Distinguishing features such as tattoos, body piercings or other noticeable attributes
  • The listing of the offense with a description of the crime

Where can a person find Illinois criminal records?

Those wanting to run a background check, like an employer who’d like to look into an applicant’s background, can get a statewide history transcript from the Illinois State Police, Bureau of Investigation.

For a thorough report, you will need to submit fingerprints, which you can have done in person at the ISP at 260 N. Chicago St., Joliet, IL, Monday through Friday or you can also go to any licensed live scan fingerprint vendor.

There are also name-based inquiries for quicker background checks through the Criminal History Response Process (CHIRP). You can register and link directly with CHIRP from the ISP website. While a fingerprint inquiry requires consent of the person, a name search does not.

There are fees for both services. It costs $20 to get state records with fingerprints on paper and $15 to get them sent electronically. If you include both the state and FBI records, the cost is $33.25 and $28.25, respectively.

Name-based inquiries are $16 for paper documents and $10 for electronic documents.

Illinois inmate records

Illinois typically has more than 52,000 prisoners in its prison system across the state. However, the governor decided to release at least 4,000 of them because of the fear of COVID-19 spreading through the prison. Accessing inmate records can provide information on who has been released and who remains behind bars.

What’s on an inmate record?

Inmate record information can be different from state to state, but Illinois records typically have both personal information and details of the person’s prison sentence. That would include information such as:

  • Their name, gender and birthdate
  • A mug shot
  • Where they are being incarcerated
  • The inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Illinois inmate records?

The Illinois State Department of Corrections has an inmate locator where you can search the state. You can search by last name, their IDOC number of birthdate. It also links to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator. 

Illinois court records

There is a lot of information you can obtain from court records in Illinois. There are several resources where you can get court records. Remember that court records are often held in various courts across the state and that can make them harder to obtain than most records. 

What’s on a court record?

Court records can be extensive and include a lot of many types of documents. These documents can include things like:

  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Court orders
  • Court minutes
  • Documents ordering judgement
  • Jury files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find Illinois court records?

Those seeking Illinois court records must obtain them from the local court handling the case. The Illinois Association of Court Clerks makes it easier by listing all the county links on their page. Those seeking information should contact the county clerk listed to find out how to obtain court records. Be prepared to place a formal request for records involving court cases and have case information and a case number handy, if possible. 

The largest Illinois court circuit is the Cook County Circuit Court. There is no online access to court records. You must physically go to the Cook County Courthouse and use a public-access terminal to access records as the system doesn’t publish criminal records online. Also, Cook County does not keep dispositions for arrests or charges where they didn’t go to court.

In Illinois courts, the clerk can charge you a certified disposition fee to process your request. The fee is $9 in Cook County. 

The process to access court records remains the same no matter where the case was heard. Whether it was heard by the Illinois Supreme Court or elsewhere in the judicial circuit, your point of contact should be the clerk of court at the specific courthouse.  

Illinois vital records

Illinois, like all states, has an office that maintains all vital records. Vital records is documentation of life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. People need these records for passports, genealogy and sometimes to prove their identity.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Those seeking a vital record in Illinois will be required to submit information to help find the document. This can include:

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

Where can a person find Illinois vital records?

The State of Illinois has strict rules on accessing vital records and only certain people with interest can obtain them. Illinois does not list birth records as public, so only a few can receive copies of them. Death records are only available to those with a personal or property right interest in the decedent. Adoption files are sealed once the adoption is complete because Illinois is a closed state.

However, those seeking uncertified copies of birth and death records for genealogical purposes may have better luck. The state does allow public access to birth certificates that are more than 75 years old and death certificates that are more than 20 years old.

Marriage, divorce and civil union records are only available by speaking with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the event took place. Certifications can be obtained in person in the clerk’s office. 

The state public health office can verify they exist but requesters must go to the local courts to obtain certified copies. All vital records requests must be made in writing.

Frequently asked questions about Illinois records

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

Yes, anyone in the United States can submit an open records request regardless of the state they reside in. 

Is there a records custodian in Illinois?

Yes, there is a state official in charge of records. However, the Attorney General’s Office has a division called the Public Access Counselor to help resolve disputes between those requesting and agencies refusing to honor the request. All agencies must notify the Public Access Counselor of any denials along with reasons for denial.

What exemptions exist?

While no agency is exempted from FOIA requests, there are exemptions with detailed language for each category and listing ways where a request could be exempted. Exemptions in the federal freedom of information law can also be used to exempt certain state documents.

Illinois exemptions are broad, so anyone seeking information should read the exact law. Some of things exempted are:

  • Private information
  • Personal information
  • Law enforcement information in active or ongoing investigations
  • Law enforcement information that could lead to a biased trial or mistrial
  • Trade secrets
  • Grant or proposal documents
  • Educational Examination Data Architectural or engineering data on facilities
  • Communications with attorneys or auditors
  • Closed meeting minutes until released under the Open Meetings Act
  • Public employee grievances or disciplinary action
  • Real estate proprietary insurance data
  • Security threats

How long does that state have to respond?

The agency has five business days to respond.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Those who don’t receive a response from the agency within the time required or who disagree with the denial of a request for information can file a complaint with the Public Access Counselor’s office. Agencies found guilty of wrongdoing incur significant penalties of between $2,500 and $5000.

If the requester feels the Public Access Counselor didn’t make the right decision in their FOIA request, the one requesting information can file appeal the decision by filing a lawsuit in circuit court. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fees to obtain public records in Illinois are specified in the law. Agencies can’t charge search fees and must charge only the actual cost of labor to copy them. Also, if they don’t respond within five business days, they could dismiss the fee.

There are no fees for requests totaling less than 50 black and white pages and those in color can only be charged the cost of copying them. The copying fee is $.15 per page. With electronic records, the cost can only include the cost of the medium that the record is copied onto such as a flash drive. The Illinois Vehicle Code sets the fee for driving records.

  • Updated November 16, 2020
  • States

North Carolina

Whether you live in Raleigh or New York City, you can request public records that are held in the state of North Carolina. The state has an open policy, but if you’re trying to request documents of any kind it’s important to understand the system.

As you might expect, requesting public records can be difficult. Records are held at different agencies. Some require a request form, others are searchable online. Navigating the state’s world of public records requires some direction. 

To help, we’ve created this guide, which is specific to the state North Carolina, to help those looking specifically for criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the North Carolina public records law say?

North Carolina’s Public Records Law can be defined as expansive, but without any real form of enforcement. Agencies cannot ask a requester why they are searching for certain records, and there is a separate office that negotiates fees based on requests to maintain minimal costs. 

There is no time limit on when requests must be completed and there is currently no formal appeal system process, so requesters must deal with good faith agencies that have the support of the law on their side. 

Under the public records law in North Carolina, individuals are entitled to public inspection of records held by all public agencies. The term ‘public agency’ is defined as any agency of North Carolina government or any of its subdivisions, including every public officer and public office, board, commission, institution, bureau, department, council, unit, or authority of the state government or a subdivision of government. 

Public information includes all public meetings and also includes: Both paper and electronic files, mail, emails, letters, maps, photographs, books, sound recordings, films, magnetic tapes, artifacts, and documentary material. Also, drafts that have been received by an agency of the government become state property and thus, are classified as property of the people.

More information can be found on the state website, NorthCarolina.gov.

How can a person access public records in North Carolina?

In some cases, accessing public records in North Carolina requires a physical form to request the document. In other cases, there are online databases that can provide 24/7 access to information; no form required.  

If a physical form is required, it can be sent by mail, email, or by phone to the corresponding department. 

Note that state agencies and employees are not required to create and/or compile a government record if one does not currently exist. 

With each department different, expect some slight variations to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple locations. 

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 require masks and others 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 Carolina criminal records

The criminal records within the state of North Carolina are classified as official documents that detail all criminal activities committed in the state. All of these documents are prepared and maintained by local and state law enforcement groups, courts, agencies, detention, and correctional facilities. 

Criminal records describe felonies and misdemeanors of alleged and convicted criminals as well as records of arrest, indictment, and conviction. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a detailed record of a person’s history with law enforcement. These records are taken from various sources and include a person’s arrest records, prior convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s 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, plus a full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features like tattoos, birthmarks, or other identifying marks
  • Type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find North Carolina criminal records?

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety works with the state’s court system to provide criminal background checks. How expansive criminal records are in the state of North Carolina vary from county to county. 

Using the link above, you can request background checks that are fingerprint-based, also known within the state of North Carolina as the ‘Right to Review’ record. The processing fee for requests for criminal records is $14. 

North Carolina inmate records

The state of North Carolina has approximately 31,000 inmates within its corrections system. Inmate records can provide information on current inmates that are housed within any correctional facility within the state. 

What’s on an inmate record?

The information on inmate records varies from state to state; in Maine 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 (first/last name, birthdate, gender)
  • Identifying information (tatoos, birthmarks, etc.)
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find North Carolina inmate records?

Information can be accessed by visiting the North Carolina Department of Public Safety page and entering in the inmate’s first/last name, gender, race, date of birth, or incarceration identification number. From there, a requester will have access to all of the inmates matching the criteria. 

The same system can provide information on parolees. The search function allows you to search for active inmates or active parolees. 

North Carolina court records

North Carolina citizens have the authority to search for, obtain, and utilize public records that are held by the state government, county government, municipality, or city. Under the Freedom of Information Law, requesters have the tools necessary to acquire records easily and more efficiently. 

What’s on a court record?

In most cases, court records are quite extensive and come with several various documents. Most people find these documents to be 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 Carolina court records?

In order to access court records, a request can be made at a clerk’s court office in any county. To find a case, you can use the court terminals to search using the defendant name, case number, and/or victim/witness name. Copies of any paper documents can be processed for a nominal fee. 

An individual can access information about civil, estate cases, or special proceedings in the North Carolina state court system on self-service public terminals located in the clerk of court’s office in any county.  View the user’s manual for the system where the information is stored. Paper copies can be prepared by staff for a small fee. 

North Carolina vital records

In the state of North Carolina, there are offices that contain all of the birth records, marriage records, and death certificates. Records that mark milestones are known as vital records. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To obtain vital records in North Carolina, like a birth certificate or a death record, a person must provide certain information to aid in the search. The information includes the following: 

  • 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 North Carolina vital records?

A subsidiary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Vital Records houses the birth, death, and marriage certificates of the state and they can be obtained at the Register of Deeds (ROD) office in whichever county the event took place. 

Through the State Archives of North Carolina, a person has access to several holdings that include:

  • Death certificates (1939-1979)
  • Microfilmed indexes for births and deaths
  • Cohabitation records (1866-1867)
  • Microfilmed marriage registers and indexes

Currently, North Carolina’s vital records department has suspended its walk-in service temporarily, so all services must be done via online or by mail. Also, services in the department will be delayed and delivery times will fluctuate. 

Frequently asked questions about North Carolina records

To further assist North Carolina citizens in the pursuit of public records, here is a list of FAQs to help: 

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

Yes. Anyone can request and receive records that pertain to public business. 

Is there a records custodian in North Carolina?

No. The state’s public records policy doesn’t list a records custodian. Records are available with each state department.

What exemptions exist?

An agency in North Carolina may refuse to disclose requested records if one or more of the following exemptions apply:

  • Communication between attorneys and government clients made within the scope of the attorney-client relationship
  • Local and state tax information
  • Public enterprise billing information
  • Personally identifiable admissions information for North Carolina public universities
  • Trade secrets
  • Specific government lawsuit settlements
  • Criminal investigation records
  • Criminal intelligence information records
  • Information obtained via a 911 database
  • Emergency response plans
  • Photographs and/or recordings of autopsies

This is an abbreviated list as there are numerous other exceptions that can be applied under the state’s public records law. 

How long does that state have to respond?

There is no general statute in the state of North Carolina that specifies a time. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

There is no official appeals process in the state of North Carolina, so if a request is denied for any reason, you can ask for a reason for the denial. Non-exempt portions of the record can be released or the exempt portions can be redacted. 

Are estate records available?

Yes. North Carolina considers all real estate records public. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Agencies in the state of North Carolina only have the power to be able to charge for copies, unless an ‘extensive amount of labor’ is involved in providing the public records. In some instances, the State Chief Information Office can mediate fees by a requester. 

  • Updated October 26, 2020
  • States

Texas

The Texas Public Records Act allows people to access records from state, city, county, and government agencies. Whether you need to run a criminal background check or you want to see the minutes from the county board meeting, the information we have provided here will be extremely helpful. We layout how you can find criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the Texas public records law say?

Under the act, you do not have to be a resident to receive records. The records must be produced for you within 10 days, or a written response should be mailed to you explaining when the records will be available. 

If the agency is going to deny your request, they need to send a written exemption to the attorney general. This is a benefit because it means the agency will not just automatically deny records requests. The attorney general makes the final decision on the release of the records but this step will also slow down the acquisition of records. That attorney general has 45 days to respond to the denial. There is no appeal option in Texas, but you can file a lawsuit to obtain the records.  

There are exemptions within the Texas Public Records Act. The judicial system is exempt although you can obtain records from the executive and state agencies. You can be refused records on audits, confidential records, personnel files, records that are an invasion of privacy, crime or abuse victims records, and certain law enforcement procedures due to security. 

The fee associated with copying records in Texas is $.10 per page. If a search is required for your request, you can be charged $15.00 per hour. You may be charged more if the records you request are in different agencies. If an employee needs to redact confidential information, you can be charged for that work.

For more information, visit Texas.gov.

How can a person access public records in Texas?

Some Texas records are available online and some must be requested through a physical form. If a form is required, 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’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.

Texas criminal records

A criminal record from Texas provides arrest information, prosecutions, and dispositions for a Class B misdemeanor or greater violation. It will include specific information on the person’s interactions with law enforcement.  

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record or background check from Texas will contain the following information:

  • Criminal history
  • A tracking ID number
  • Personal information like name and birthdate
  • A mugshot
  • Fingerprints
  • A physical description
  • The type of offense 

Where can a person find Texas criminal records?

The Texas Department of Public Safety can provide background checks via an online portal. If a person has been convicted of a crime, arrested, or prosecuted, it will show up in the report. This information is considered public information as is a sex offender registry.

You will need to set up an account and supply your name, address, email, phone number and credit card information. You will not receive a refund if there are no records found. 

Texas inmate records

Texas has 700 prisons and jails that in 2017 housed 1435,341 inmates. This can make a search for an inmate’s records difficult. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice online search will help you find the information you seek. We have provided you information to help you complete that search. 

What’s on an inmate record? 

Each state varies in what information it will provide on an inmate’s record. Usually it contains personal details and where the person is incarcerated. Conducting a public records search can provide the following information on an inmate:

  • An inmate’s name, date of birth, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate registration number
  • Inmate location
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status
  • Parole information

Where can a person find Texas inmate records?

The state of Texas provides an easy-to-use online database to access inmate records.

To request an inmate’s records, visit the website listed above and enter the last name and the first initial of the person, or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) number or the state identification (SID)  number. You can enter a gender and a race if you know them. 

Texas court records

The courts in Texas are numerous and each court has a specific function. We provide information here so that you can gain an understanding of the court system. Because of its large number of courts, it can be hard to track down records.

Texas courts can be broken down into levels by what type of case they manage. The Supreme Court helps the whole judicial system in Texas run efficiently and creates the rules pertaining to the other courts. The majority of the cases are an appeal from an appellate ruling. 

The Court of Criminal Appeals is for criminal matters. Texas has fourteen Courts of Appeals which deal in both civil and criminal cases. 

Texas has four levels of trial or district courts, which include civil court, family law, criminal court, and juvenile cases. The Trial Court system uses either a jury trial or a decision by a judge. They handle both criminal cases where the defendant may be sent to prison if a crime has been committed or a civil case where a decision is made on a lawsuit.  

Appellate Courts make decisions on appeals that were filed on trials that were previously tried in the state. 

Probate Courts rule on court cases involving estates of the deceased, wills, guardianship, mental health and incapacitated persons. 

Texas requires each of its 254 counties to have a judge and a county court. There are also 254 justice courts.  

What’s on a court record?

Since cases can take a long time to come to trail, court records can be large and unwieldy.

These documents will be the most helpful:

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

Where can a person find Texas court records?

In order to receive court documents from Texas, you need to complete an application. The form is short and easy to complete. You must supply your name, address, phone and email. Be specific on the records you want to request. 

Typically, the request is sent to the county clerk or county clerk’s office, who maintain records. 

Texas vital records

The Vital Statistics Section (VSS) of Texas does provide vital records when you are in need of that missing marriage or birth certificate. The state maintains birth and death certificates, divorce records and marriage applications for its citizens. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To receive vital records, you must provide specific information to aid in the process. The information for the application form vary by different types of records but includes the following:

  • Full name of the person and previous names 
  • Location of the event
  • Date of the event
  • A license number for marriage records
  • A case file for divorce records

Where can a person find Texas vital records?

You can request your own records. If you want a different person’s records you must be immediate family (or adoptive), a legal guardian or a legal agent or a representative. 

To obtain death records or marriage license, you need to complete the application and have a valid photo ID. The application must be notarized. Enclose a check or money order made out to DSHS Vital Statistics. 

You can mail the request to Texas Vital Statistics, Department of State Health Services, P.O. Box 12040, Austin, TX 78711-2040  

Due to COVID-19, requesting official public records is taking longer than usual.

Frequently asked questions about Texas records

We have compiled a list of the most common questions about Texas Public Records to provide additional information.

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

Yes. You can request public records if you are a non-resident. 

Is there a records custodian in Texas?

No. Each government official in a county is in custody of the records.

What exemptions exist?

The records of the judicial branch are exempt from the law in Texas. Other records that are exempt often deal with invasion of privacy or confidentiality laws. You cannot receive personnel files, mental health files, trade secrets, academic files, credit card information, or crime and abuse victim records. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The agency is supposed to produce records for you within 10 days. If they cannot get you the records within 10 days, the Public Information Act says they must send you a letter stating when the records will be available. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

You may file a lawsuit, but there is no appeals process in Texas. If the agency is going to refuse your records, they must send a letter to the attorney general who will either agree with the agency or recommend that the documents are released. The attorney general has up to 45 days to respond to the letter. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Texas is required to charge reasonable fees for copying and labor for a record request. If the request is under 50 pages, they are allowed to only charge for photocopying the pages at $0.10 a page. If the pages are over 50, the charge for labor is $15.00 an hour. If the records are housed in two separate buildings, they are allowed to charge for labor. 

  • Updated November 18, 2020
  • States

California

Anyone that has ever tried to get public records in the state of California knows that it can be a challenging process. Records are maintained across several departments within the state, but all Californians have the right to access public records housed by both a local agency and state government agencies, including those held at the Department of Justice. This includes millions of criminal records, court records, inmate records, and vital records across all 58 counties in the state of California.

The state of California has a fairly specific public records law, with specified response times and exemptions to few records. The California constitution actually has few exemptions in its public records law. While many states exclude some records created by the legislature, California does not. If a records request is denied, however, there is no appeals process in place to gain access to the records. 

To assist people in acquiring the records, we have compiled this guide for the state of California that will enable people to better understand the laws within the state and provide instructions on how to access criminal, court, inmate, and vital records. 

What does the California public records law say?

The public records law in the state of California says it’s the necessary right of every person to “access to records that relate to the conduct of the people” yet exempts information that is deemed solely personal that happens to be included on a public account. 

Under California law, responses must be met within 10 days and applies to both executive and state agencies. Residency within the state is not required, however, there is no appeal option if a request is denied. 

How can a person access public records in California?

For a public records act request, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, email, mail, or by phone to the record-holding department. Sometimes, a physical form must be submitted to the public agency. 

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

In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email or phone number where you can be reached during office hours
  • 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

COVID-19 has created some unusual circumstances, which has resulted in some public offices limiting hours of operation. As a result, online requests or utilizing electronic formats are best, but it can not stop you from accessing records “concerning the conduct of people’s business.” 

California criminal records

In California, criminal records – also known as rap sheets – are typically used by employers that want to check the backgrounds of potential employees. In order to assist in searching for a person’s criminal records, we have provided the following information and resources below. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A person’s criminal record includes a thorough overview of their interaction with law enforcement and is pulled from several sources. These records consist of any arrests, convictions, and incarcerations throughout the state’s 35 prisons. 

Specifically, a criminal record or background check includes the following information:

  • Personal information (name, birth date, nationality)
  • Mugshot plus fingerprints
  • Comprehensive list of distinguishing physical features (tattoos, scars, moles)
  • Any misdemeanors or felonies, including a description of the crime

Where can a person find California criminal records?

Criminal records in California are administered by the Office of the Attorney General. The OAG provides background checks that can be accessed through law enforcement offices and through the official California State Records Online Database. 

Manual fingerprints are required as part of the government code to initiate a background search as criminal records are not provided without a person’s knowledge, although an individual can give consent to initiate one. 

Criminal inmate records

The state of California has approximately 115,000 inmates within its corrections system. Inmate records provide information on inmates that are currently incarcerated. 

What’s on an inmate record?

The information listed on an inmate can vary, but in California records typically contain a combination of personal information along with specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. The following information can be acquired when public access is provided to inmate records:

  • Name, birth date, gender
  • Mugshot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Custody status
  • Jail transfer information

Where can a person find California inmate records?

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation provides information and links that allow you to locate offenders and provide information for victims and advocates.  

Use the site www.ca.gov with an inmate’s first and last name or offender ID to do a search. If you cannot locate the inmate through these means, contact the Department’s Identification Unit at 916-445-6713. 

California court records

Court records are able to provide extensive information from court hearings and for those that are seeking access, there are resources listed below. Note that it is often a difficult process to procure court records as they can be held across different courts. 

What’s on a court record?

The information on a court record can vary, but in California, most people are looking for these specific documents within a court record:

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

Where can a person find California court records?

In California, court records for background checks are served via the California Judicial Branch, although the state imposes restrictions on employers that request them. These restrictions can are found in the following:

  1. California’s ‘ban the box’ law
  2. The Los Angeles and San Francisco ‘Fair Chance Ordinances’ (FCO
  3. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
  4. California Information Privacy Act (CIPA)
  5. Anti-discrimination laws

Court records can also be obtained in the following ways:

  • Go to the courthouse and request to look at physical records
  • Go to the courthouse and request access to electronic court records
  • Access electronic records via the internet

If you plan to go to the courthouse to request records, having an understanding of how the state court system works is helpful. In California, the supreme court is the highest authority. The California Supreme Court oversees decisions made by the court of appeal, which oversees decisions made by superior courts. Most court cases are heard by a superior court or trial court.

California vital records

California, like most states, has an office that maintains its vital records. Vital records are maintained for milestone moments and include birth records, marriage records, and death certificates. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To request a vital record, you must provide some information upfront to facilitate the search. You’ll need to provide the following: 

  • Full names before the first marriage of both spouses
  • Date of marriage
  • California county where the marriage license was issued
  • Your name
  • Your signature
  • Address where the certificate is to be mailed
  • Your daytime phone number

Where can a person find California vital records?

The California Department of Public Health – Vital Records (CDPH-VR) keeps birth, death, deaths, marriage, and divorce records on file for the state of California. The department also issues certified copies of California vital records as well as registers and amends vital records as authorized by law. 

Because California receives a large volume of requests on the state level, it is quicker to request vital records directly from the county office, with many accepting requests by phone, fax, online, and with credit card payment. 

Frequently asked questions about California records

In your quest to access public records in California, you may have additional questions. To further assist California citizens in their pursuit for public records, here’s a list of commonly asked questions: 

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

The law states that only California residents can request public records. However, other agencies and the United States citizens residing in other states have made requests and received the requested records.

Is there a records custodian in California?

No. The public records law in the state specifically tells people to contact individual agencies to gain access to records. 

What exemptions exist?

While some states have a specific list of records that can’t be accessed or are exempt from public viewing, California doesn’t. The state does grant exemptions to “any records that are not in the best public interest to be released.” 

In these particular cases, public information that pertains to safety protocols, building layouts, medical records, and records of that nature fall into this exemption category.

How long does that state have to respond?

California has 10 days to respond to a request. California does specify a specific response time. Other states do not. 

Is there an appeal process in place?

The California Public Records Act (CPRA) does not establish any type of administrative appeal. However, the law does leave room for individual agencies to create their own appeals process, though we did not find any.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Once a request for records has been made, the staff creates copies for a fee of 10 cents per page for standard documents. Additional fees can be incurred for postage charges, and the retrieval/return of records held off-site in archives. These direct costs may be waived if deemed appropriate in some instances. 

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States