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Oklahoma Public Records

Located in the southern central United States, Oklahoma became a state in 1907 with the merging of the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory.    A region prone to severe weather, the state lies in the Great Plains, the U.S. Interior Highlands, and the Cross Timbers.   The state has a diverse economic base that is built on such things as agriculture, natural gas, oil, aviation, and biotechnology.  With over 3.8 million residents, Oklahoma is the 28th most populated state in the U.S. and does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Oklahoma Public Records Laws

 

Oklahoma’s Open Records Act was first passed in 1985 and has been amended several times since.  The Act is covered under Chapter 24 of Title 51 in the Oklahoma Statutes.  The Act states that “any person,” regardless of citizenship status, has access to public records in Oklahoma.  You may request records for any purpose, but if the purpose is commercial, you may be charged an additional fee.

Records that are subject to the Act include all records from public bodies, including the executive and judicial branches.  The legislative branch is not covered by the Act unless records relate to the spending of public funds.   Records that are not covered by the Act, or that are exempt, include:

  • Personnel records
  • Investigatory files
  • Educational records
  • Trade secrets
  • Traffic collision reports
  • Insurance commission reports
  • Any records made exempt by statute

Oklahoma Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

 

Background checks in Oklahoma are administered by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).   A Criminal History Records Check can be requested on anyone, by anyone, and does not require a signed release by the person being checked.  You simply need to fill out the application with the appropriate information.  There is also an online search portal that employers and licensing agencies can use to perform background checks instantly.  These are name-based reports that return arrest history for the state of Oklahoma only.

Oklahoma Jail and Inmate Records

 

To find information on the state correctional facilities, inmates in the system, or services for victims, visit the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website.  If you wish to locate an offender in the Oklahoma prison system, there is a search page that will prompt you to enter either an ODOC# or a First and Last Name.   The results will return an image, if available, a description, list of offenses, current location, and earliest possible release date.

Oklahoma Court Records

 

Information on courts in Oklahoma and how to obtain court records can be found on the state’s administrator of the courts website.  The online search page will allow you to search the dockets for all district courts as well as the three appellate courts in the state.   Copies of full case files and more specific records will still need to be requested from the clerk of the court in the courthouse where the case was heard.

Oklahoma Vital Records

Vital records in Oklahoma, such as birth and death certificates, are administered by the Oklahoma Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Office.    Birth and death certificates are available from 1908 to present.  To obtain either of these, you will need to prove that you are an interested party, such as being listed on the certificate, an immediate family member, legal guardian, or legal representative.  Birth records become open records after 125 years and death records after 75 years.  To request either of these you can do the following:

  • In Person:  You can order in person at the State Office at Vital Records Service, State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117.
  • By Mail:  Simply download and complete the proper birth certificate or death certificate application and return it with copies of required documentation to:  Vital Records Service, State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117.
  • Online:  Place your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.

Marriage and divorce records in Oklahoma are only maintained by the counties in which the event took place.  If you need a marriage or divorce certificate, you will need to make the request from the clerk of the court in the county where the marriage or divorce took place.

  • Updated September 11, 2018
  • States

Virginia Public Records

Located in the South Atlantic Region of the United States, the state of Virginia is rich in history and has many nicknames to prove it.  Also known as the “Old Dominion” because it was the first colonial possession established in mainland British America and “Mother of Presidents” because Virginia was the birthplace of eight U.S. Presidents.   Virginia was one of the original 13 colonies, and its General Assembly is known as the oldest continuous law-making body in the country.  The state is the 12th most populated, with over 8.3 million residents, and does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Virginia  Public Records Laws

Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1968 and can be found in Title 2.2 Chapter 37 of the Code of Virginia.  The state also established a Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council in 2000 as a source of both formal and informal advice to individuals and public agencies.  Under the Law, “any person from the state of Virginia” may access public records.  The purpose of the request need not be stated, and the use of any records obtained is unrestricted.

Records that are included under the Act are those produced by “public bodies” in Virginia including state universities, and the executive and legislative branches.  Records that are not included, or are exempt, include:

  • Mental health records
  • Child fatality records
  • Trade secrets
  • Virginia Port Authority records
  • Personal information
  • Investigatory records
  • Records made exempt by statute or court order


Virginia  Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Virginia are administered by the Virginia State Police.  A Criminal History Records Check is a name-based search that can be ordered by individuals, employers, and licensing agencies.  Depending on the situation, as governed by statute, a signed and notarized authorization form may be required before running the background check.  These reports return criminal histories for the state of Virginia only.


Virginia  Jail and Inmate Records

The Virginia Department of Corrections website has information on offenders, the correctional facilities in the state, and services for victims.  If you wish to locate an offender in the system, you can search on the Offender Locator page that will ask you for either an Offender ID or a First and Last Name.  You will be provided with the offender’s current location and earliest release date.


Virginia Court Records

Information on the court system in Virginia and court records can be found on the administrator of the courts website.  Disclosure of court records is governed by both separate statutes and common law.   The court website has pages that can be searched for case status and information on cases in the supreme court, the court of appeals, the circuit court, and the general district court.  There is no online access for the juvenile or domestic relations court.   Regardless of the online information obtained, copies of actual case files will still need to be requested from the clerk of the court at the courthouse where the case was heard.

Virginia  Vital Records

Vital records, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates, in the state of Virginia are administered by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  Birth records and death records are available from 1912 to present.  Marriage records are available from 1936 to present and divorce records from 1918 to present.   In Virginia, birth records become public information after 100 years and death, marriage and divorce records after 25 years.  If the data isn’t “public”, you will need to prove that you are either listed on the record or are an immediate family member, legal guardian, or legal representative to make a request.

There are several ways to request any of these records in Virginia:

  • In Person:  You can order in person at the State Office at 2001 Maywill Street, Richmond, VA 23230 or at any full-service Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
  • By Mail:  Simply download and complete the proper form and return it with copies of required documentation to:  Division of Vital Records, P.O. Box 1000, Richmond, VA, 23218.
  • Online:  Place your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.
  • Updated September 11, 2018
  • 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

Located in the Southeastern United States, Tennessee is the 36th largest state and is also known as “The Volunteer State” due to its role in the War of 1812.  Famous for the country music scene in Nashville, the state’s second-largest city, and the country’s most visited national park, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee has much to offer residents and visitors alike.  With over 6.5 million residents, Tennessee does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Tennessee Public Records Laws

 

The Tennessee Open Records Act was initially passed in 1957 and is found in Title 10, Chapter 7 of the state statutes.The Act states that public records are open to “any citizen of the state of Tennessee” and this has been expanded to include corporations. The purpose of the request does not have to be stated and records received can be used for any purpose, commercial or otherwise.

Records that are covered under the Act include records from all government agencies, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  Non-governmental bodies that receive public funds are also covered.  Records that are not covered under the Act, or are exempt, include:

  • Medical records
  • Trade secrets
  • Investigative reports
  • Security-related records
  • Records deemed confidential by statute or court order


Tennessee Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

 

Background checks in the state of Tennessee are administered by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  The general public, employers, and licensing agencies can request a name-based background check on anyone through the online system, called Tennessee Open Records Information Services (TORIS), or through the mail that will return an adult criminal history for the state of Tennessee only.



Tennessee Jail and Inmate Records

If you’d like to find information on an inmate in the Tennessee system, learn about the state prisons, or about agency services, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  If you want to locate an offender, you can search on the state’s webpage called Felony Offender Information (FOIL) either by Name, TOMIS ID, or State ID.  The search results will provide you with the offender’s sentencing date, supervision status, and earliest parole eligibility date.


Tennessee Court Records


Information on Tennessee courts can be found on the state administrator of the courts website.  This site has information on all courts in the state, and you can look up information on court meetings, opinions, and oral arguments from their student page.  Any particular court records, however, will need to be requested from the specific court where the case was heard.


Tennessee Vital Records

Vital records pertaining to birth, death, marriage, and divorce in the state of Tennessee are administered by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  For any of these certificates, you must either be the person named on the certificate or a spouse, parent, child, or legal guardian to make a request.  There are several ways to apply for a birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate in Tennessee:

  • In Person:  You can make your application at the Vital Records Central Office, at 710 James Robertson Pkwy, 1st Floor, Nashville, From 8:00am-4:00pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 8:00am-6:00pm Tuesday and Thursday.
  • By Mail:  You can download the proper form and mail it with a copy of your photo ID and payment to: Tennessee Vital Records, 1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower, 710 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243.
  • Online:  You can make your request through their partnership with VitalCheck.com.

Birth records are available dating back to 1914, and death records for the last 50 years.  Marriage and divorce records are also available for the last 50 years.  If you are looking for records older than this, you can ask the county where the event took place or approach the Tennessee State Archives with your request.

  • Updated September 11, 2018
  • States

Mississippi Public Records

Located in the Southern United States, Mississippi has been ranked the most religious state in the country by such places as the Pew Research Center and the Gallup Poll.  Also known as “The Magnolia State” and “The Hospitality State,” Mississippi consists of areas of delta land along the Mississippi River and heavily forested regions.   A majority of the farm-raised catfish consumed in the U.S. is produced by aquaculture in Mississippi and industrial farms continue to dominate the landscape.  With a population of nearly 3 million residents, Mississippi is the 31st most populous state and does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Mississippi Public Records Laws

 

The Mississippi Public Records Act wasn’t passed until 1983.  Before this, there was considered to be common law access to public records in the state due to court decisions dating back to 1941.  The current public records law can be found in Chapter 61 of Title 25 of the Mississippi Code.  The Act provides that “any person” has a right to access public records in the state.  The purpose of the request generally doesn’t need to be stated, unless the records being requested are of a confidential nature.  The use of records once obtained is unrestricted.

Records that are subject to the Act include files that are produced by all public bodies in the state, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  However, the executives, legislators, and judges themselves are exempt.  Other records that are not included under the Act, or are exempt, include:

  • Records made confidential by statute or court order
  • Trade secrets
  • Personal information of law enforcement and victims of crimes
  • Confidential financial and commercial data
  • Attorney work product
  • Personnel files
  • Medical examiner records
  • Jury records
  • Medical records
  • Archaeological records
  • Academic records

Mississippi Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Mississippi are administered by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, Criminal Information Center.  These are conducted for the purposes of pre-employment checks, licensing, and criminal justice investigations.  A signed consent or court order is required to request one of these reports.   These are also fingerprint-based reports, so a fingerprint scan needs to be completed for all applicants before requesting a report.

Mississippi Jail and Inmate Records

 

To obtain information about the corrections facilities in Mississippi, inmates in the system, and services for victims, visit the state Department of Corrections website.  If you wish to locate an offender in the prison system, you can do a search on their offender locator page either by Name or ID Number.  You will be provided with an Inmate Detail page, given an image if available, a list of offenses, current location, and tentative release date.

Mississippi Court Records

 

Information on the courts in Mississippi and obtaining court records can be obtained from the state’s administrator of the courts website.  Many current court cases can be searched online through the state’s Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC) portal.  The court’s open records policy can be found here.  Copies of actual court records and case files may still need to be requested from the clerk of the court where the case was heard.

Mississippi Vital Records

Vital records in Mississippi for birth, death, and marriage certificates are maintained by the Office of Vital Records.  Birth records and death records are available from 1912 to present.  Marriage records are available from January 1, 1926 to June 1, 1938 and from January 1, 1942 to present.   For all requests, you will need to prove that you are either listed on the record or are an immediate family member, legal guardian, or legal representative to make an application.

There are several ways to request any of these records in Mississippi:

  • In Person:  You can order in person at the State Office at 222 Marketridge Drive, Ridgeland, MS 39157.
  • By Mail:  Simply download and complete the proper form and return it with copies of required documentation to:  Mississippi Vital Records, P.O. Box 1700, Jackson, MS 39215-1700.
  • Online:  Place your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.

The Office of Vital Records does not maintain divorce records.  A divorce certificate needs to be requested from the Chancery Clerk in the county where the divorce took place.  If you are not sure which county the divorce took place in, the Office of Vital Records may be able to search in the index from 1926 to present to locate this for you.

  • Updated September 11, 2018
  • States

South Dakota Public Records

Located in the Midwestern region of the United States, South Dakota is the 17th largest yet the 5th least populated state with just 853,000 residents.  The Missouri River runs down the middle of the state, which creates two geographic and socially diverse regions.  The state is known for both its Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, which are famous tourist destinations.  The economy in South Dakota is heavily dependent on both ranching and defense spending, and the state has long made provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

South Dakota Public Records Laws

South Dakota’s Freedom of Information Act was first passed in 1939 and has been added to and amended many times since.  It can be found in Chapter 27 of Title 1 of the South Dakota Codified Laws. The Law states that “any person” may request access to public records.  However, it then limits access to inmates in the state by excluding many records that they can request.  The purpose of the application generally doesn’t matter yet the law does prohibit the resale or redistribution of information obtained under the law.

Records that are covered under the law include all records from any public agency, including the executive branch.  The legislative branch is not included.  The courts are not excluded from the law, but they do have their own set of disclosure rules regarding court records.  Records that you are not able to get under the law, or that are exempt, include:

  • Trade secrets
  • Medical records
  • Personnel files
  • Security information
  • Criminal investigatory records
  • Certain court records
  • Tax information
  • Library records
  • Crime victim records
  • Adoption records


South Dakota Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in South Dakota are administered by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.  The department runs two types of background checks: State Only and State and FBI background checks.  Both are fingerprint-based background checks and require the consent of the person being examined.  Either of these is used for licensing, employment, housing, and government agency purposes.


South Dakota Jail and Inmate Records

To find out information about inmates in the South Dakota System, the state correctional facilities, or services for victims, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  If you wish to locate an offender, there is a search page where you will be prompted to enter either a DOC# or a First and Last Name.  You will be provided with the offender’s current location, a list of offenses, sentence, and earliest possible release date.

South Dakota Court Records

Any information on courts and court cases in the state of South Dakota can be found on its administrator of the courts website.  The state has set up a system for various court records searches.  If you wish to search for a civil case, you can do this yourself for a fee online.  All other searches are either done through a request form with the Jackson County Clerk of the Court (for all courts), or you can approach the specific court where the case was heard with your records request.

South Dakota Vital Records

Vital records, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates, in South Dakotaare administered by the state Department of Health Vital Records Office.  To request a copy of any of these records, you must prove eligibility by either being the person listed on the record, a spouse, child, parent, guardian, next of kin, or authorized agent.  The only exception is for birth records older than 100 years, which are public record and can be searched directly on their web page.  All other records can be obtained in the following ways:

  • In Person:  You order in person at the State Office or go to any Register of Deeds.
  • By Mail:  Simply download and complete the proper form and return it with copies of required documentation to:  Vital Records Office, 207 E. Missouri, Suite 1-A, Pierre, SD 57501.
  • Online:  Please your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.

The records that you are able to obtain via these methods will depend on the type of certificate that you are requesting.

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates are available from July 1, 1905 to present, and records can be obtained from either the State Office or a county Register of Deeds.

Death Certificates

Death certificates are available from July 1, 1905 to present, and records can be obtained from either the State Office or a county Register of Deeds.  However, with deaths before 1960, you can only get same day issuance at a local office.

Marriage Certificates

Marriage certificates are available from July 1, 1905 to present, and records can be obtained from either the State Office or a county Register of Deeds.  However, with marriages before 1950, you can only get same day issuance at a local office.

 Divorce Certificates

Divorce certificates are available from July 1, 1905 to present, and these must be obtained from the State Office.

  • Updated September 11, 2018
  • States