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Indiana Public Records

Indiana has a mix of laws that make it both easy and challenging to access records. All agencies are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and there aren’t many exemptions. There is a tight rein on fees. However, the appeals process can be complicated and cumbersome. It is good to know the laws and have some direction to access criminal, inmate, court, and vital records in the state of Indiana. 

What does the Indiana public records law say?

The Indiana law states all government branches are held accountable to respond to FOIA requests. The public records act says that a requester can live anywhere as no state citizenship requirement is listed. You can submit a FOIA request in person, by email, by mail and by phone. 

Government agencies are allowed seven days to respond to requests and there isn’t an administrative appeal process. You can appeal through the Public Access Counselor, but the counselor can only offer an opinion and can’t override a decision of an agency. You will need to file a lawsuit in court to issue a formal appeal.

How can a person access public records in Indiana?

For public records access in Indiana, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, 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, especially local government 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.

Indiana criminal records

Criminal records are used for a couple of specific purposes. Generally, they are used by potential employers and temporary employment agencies as part of the hiring process. They can also be used by people looking at business partnerships or as part of a prenuptial agreement or other legal proceedings. Criminal records are also used by attorneys for crime victims in civil suits or as part of an ongoing criminal case.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record is a list of every time a person has an interaction with law enforcement agencies. These records include arrests, convictions, restraining orders and time served in the state’s prisons. They typically do not include driving records unless a criminal charge is involved.

Some things are consistent with all criminal records in every state. A background check will include things like a person’s name, nationality and birthday along with a mugshot. It will also include any unique features, like a tattoo. It will list the offense and whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony along with a description of the crime. 

Where can a person find Indiana criminal records?

The best place to find current criminal records is the Indiana State Police. Those seeking criminal records can go to its online site and follow the links to limited criminal history. The information will be displayed as a PDF and you can print it off your printer. The fee is $15 for online subscribers and $16.32 for those using a credit card.

There are also more than 1.2 million records available online through the Indiana Digital Archives. The archives were established by volunteers at the Friends of the Indiana State Archives and all persons seeking information are directed there first. While it does have documents related to court cases, it may not contain the most recent cases. For those you will need to access the county courthouse records online or call the court clerk in the county where the incident occurred. The digital archives don’t have criminal records. 

Indiana inmate records

The Indiana prison system has an estimated 25,546 prisoners in 19 prisons, according to the last public statistics published. The state has a convenient online system to find records on any inmate within its system. People may want to search for inmate records to find out more about a particular case or to see when they might get out of prison. Crime victims may want to know if a parole hearing is coming up or when the offender may finish his or her sentence.

What’s on an inmate record?

While there are some differences in how states list items on an inmate record, Indiana is standard with other states in the information it provides. It will have some information about the person’s incarceration as well as some limited personal details. When someone accesses an inmate record, the record will show:

  • The inmate’s name, gender and birthdate
  • The location of where the person is housed
  • A mug shot
  • The inmates registration number
  • Any jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Indiana inmate records?

The Indiana State Department of Corrections has online links to look up offenders and their incarceration status. Once the link is clicked, the requester is directed to email their inquiry to COAOffenderRecordRequest@idoc.in.gov. Calls can also be made to the records division at 317-232-5765.

Indiana court records

Court records can contain many different things that cover the case over several years. It is full of valuable information. Typically, all of these things are together under the case file in the court where the case was heard but court documents could be spread among several courts if the case was moved to different courts or venues. Typically, these files are large and could cover a span of years.

What’s on a court record?

Court records are typically incredibly large files with a variety of documents that have valuable information about all the cases involving the person searched. Some of the items in court records include:

  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Court Minutes
  • Court orders
  • Judgments
  • Witness documentation
  • Jury records
  • Verdicts

Where can a person find Indiana court records?

Indiana has a couple of options to find court records and where you go largely depends on the age of the case. The Indiana Archives and Records Administration has many court cases and maybe a good place to start. 

However, most court records can be obtained by making a request from the clerk’s office in the county where the case was tried. Transcripts for a specific case that was heard by the Indiana Supreme Court, superior court, or trial court can be obtained by contacting the court clerk. 

Indiana vital records

Vital records are kept to mark life’s milestones. Vital records include birth records, death certificates, marriages licenses, and divorce records. Some common ways these records are used are for employment, to get a passport, or to renew a driver’s license. Indiana has an office for those needing these records to request them.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Those seeking vital records will need some basic information to find them in Indiana. Requesters will need to know the full name of the person listed in the vital record, and that includes maiden names. They will need the location where the event occurred and the approximate date. They will need a case file number to get divorce records and a license number to get marriage records.

Where can a person find Indiana vital records?

Indiana access to vital Records occurs through the Indiana State Department of Health. Requesters can order records like a marriage license online, but be aware the ISDH takes 30 business days to process a request once all required documents are received and approved.

Frequently asked questions about Indiana records

Finding public records in Indiana can get confusing depending on what you are looking for and where you are looking. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.

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

Yes. The Indiana code says anyone, whether they live in Indianapolis or Miami, can access public information and records. 

Is there a records custodian in Indiana?

Yes. The state created the office of the Public Access Counselor in 1999. This is a four-year term and the Public Access Counselor is appointed by the governor. The Counselor gives advisory opinions that could be used in court if a requester files suit, but doesn’t give appeal decisions and can’t override an agency’s decision regarding requests.

What exemptions exist?

No agency, office, or government branch are exempted. The list of exemptions under Indiana law are limited to specific documents. Requesters need to look at the law to specifically determine if their request falls into an exempted category.

Specific exemptions are fairly standard. Records that have personal information or contain information about public safety, for example are exempt.

How long does that state have to respond?

The office or agency has seven days to respond. Failure to respond to the requester is considered a denial. There can also be an immediate denial to requests made by phone. 

Are property records considered public records?

Yes. Property records and property taxes are considered public records and are available through the State Land Office.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Yes, you can submit a complaint to the Public Access Counselor and the Counselor can offer an advisory opinion. However, the Counselor can’t force the agency to release records. The requestor would need to file a lawsuit in the appropriate court to further an appeal.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

The only fee Indiana charges is a “reasonable” fee for labor in looking up the record electronically. The fee can’t exceed the actual cost of providing the record electronically. The government websites do not list specific fees and fees can vary depending on the documents requested. Not all agencies accept credit or debit cards for payment.

  • Updated November 26, 2020
  • States

West Virginia Public Records

The broadness of West Virginia’s open public records laws ensures that virtually nothing is kept out of public view. It is based on the belief that public servants shouldn’t decide what people should and shouldn’t know and that is quoted in its statute.

The state’s open records law covers the executive, judicial and legislative branches and exemptions are incredibly specific. It also has a strict-five day response time for requests. However, the appeals process is lacking.

Understanding each state’s open records laws can be confusing. That is why we put together a state-by-state guide to help those seeking information through the process. Below are some things to understand about West Virginia’s Freedom of Information laws.

What does the West Virginia public records law say?

Those seeking information in West Virginia don’t have to be residents of the state as there is no citizenship requirement.  There are also no required statements of purpose or restrictions on obtaining information.

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act applies to all “public bodies” and state agencies, which includes all three branches of government. Government agencies must  respond within a strict five-day time frame. The only exception is if the entity can argue that it isn’t a “public body.”

You can make your request in person, but the Attorney General for the state recommends making your request in writing to “avoid misunderstandings regarding the timing and scope of the request and to ensure that the information sought is stated with “reasonable specificity.”

However, there is no formal appeals process should an agency deny your request. There is a public records custodian called  the Supervisor of Public Records and that office takes appeals. While they can tell an agency to comply, there are no enforcement teeth so requesters seeking relief may find they need to take the matter to court.

To learn more about West Virginia codes, visit WestVirginia.gov. 

How can a person access public records in West Virginia?

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

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

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

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

West Virginia criminal records

Criminal records are documents that cover every instance a person has an encounter with law enforcement that results in an arrest or charges. Typically, they include a list of misdemeanors and felonies where the person is charged. Most of those wanting to see criminal records are employers doing background checks. However, someone seeking out a business partner, volunteers for a charity, or domestic help such as a babysitter may also want to see someone’s criminal record. A criminal background check may also be required for certain housing, licensing and certification in certain professions.

What’s on a criminal record?

Criminal records contain information regarding a person’s interaction with law enforcement and the courts. Details are pulled from local police departments, local criminal courts and the state prison system. While every state can have different things on a criminal record, there are typically five things on a person’s criminal record:

  • Personal information like their name, birthday and nationality
  • A mugshot
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • Distinguishing features such as tattoos
  • A list of all offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, with details of crimes.

Where can a person find West Virginia criminal records?

In West Virginia, the Criminal Identification Bureau under the West Virginia State Police can provide criminal background checks upon approval of the Superintendent. This is done through a third party vendor. The West Virginia Health and Human Services Bureau of Children and Families does criminal background checks specifically for families that include caretakers, babysitters, adoptive parents and other family cases. 

This includes fingerprints, photographs, records and other information to any private or public agency, person, firm, association, corporation or other organization. However, a requester must have a written authorization from the person whose records you are obtaining.

Other limitations include:

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

West Virginia inmate records

Sometimes, employers or others want to look at inmate records to get more information about a person’s criminal history. Inmate records can provide a wealth of information about a case, including the charges, the sentence and when the person was released from incarceration. Crime victims may also do inmate checks to see when a felon will be released or when they might be up for parole in order to make their petitions known to officials.

What’s on an inmate record?

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

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

Where can a person find West Virginia inmate records?

Those wishing to obtain inmate records should visit the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority (RJA) website. Once there, look for offender search. You will need some basic information such as a name or identification number to complete your search.

West Virginia court records

Court records have some of the most thorough information of all public records. Most files are quite thick as they contain all documents relating to civil or criminal court cases from the initiation until the end. There could be several reasons someone would want to look at a file from the court system, including to verify information on potential businesses or business partners, employers looking at job candidates, and for purposes of prenuptial agreements or adoptions.

What’s on a court record?

Court records include all aspects of a specific court case beginning with the initial arrest or civil court filing. They can also include:

  • Court transcripts
  • Dockets
  • Case files
  • Court minutes
  • Court orders
  • Sentencing or judgement
  • Jury records
  • Witness documentation.

Where can a person find West Virginia court records?

To find court records in West Virginia, requesters must begin their search on the West Virginia Judiciary Administrative Office of the Courts website. From there, you may go look up the local or circuit courts where the case was held. You will need to call the court, and possibly visit, to obtain court files as there is no online database in the State of West Virginia. Requesters should go to the clerk’s office or ask to speak with the county clerk. 

The only online search is through the West Virginia State Law Library, but it is incredibly limited.

West Virginia vital records

Vital records are some of the most requested items in any of the states and West Virginia is no different. These are official records of life events such as birth records, marriage certificates, divorce records and death certificates. People need these types of records for all kinds of things from school admittance, to participating in school athletics, to getting a driver’s license or settling a relative’s estate.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

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

Where can a person find West Virginia vital records?

While there are numerous ways to look at these records online, the only way to get certified copies of any vital records, like birth certificates or death records, is through the West Virginia Vital Registration Office, which is under the West Virginia Department of Health.

This office is headed by the State Registrar, who is the custodian of vital records. Specifically, those seeking vital records need to talk to someone in customer service and submit a request there as that department is the one who makes the certified copies of all vital records.

Frequently asked questions about West Virginia records

To make sure requesters get all of their questions answered, here’s a helpful list of commonly asked questions.

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

Yes, anyone in the United States can request public documents even if you aren’t a resident of West Virginia.

Is there a records custodian in West Virginia?

Yes, there is a designated records custodian called  the Supervisor of Public Records.

What exemptions exist?

There are no exemptions unless an agency can prove they aren’t a public entity.

How long does that state have to respond?

Public entities have five days to respond.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Appeals are sent to the Supervisor of Public Records and the SPR could order the agency with the records to comply. The SPR could send the appeal to the state Attorney General if the agency continues to refuse. The appeal could also be sent to the local district attorney.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fees are issued but strictly cover copying the documents and do not include, search, labor or processing time. Each public body may set its own copying fees as long as they are “reasonably calculated to reimburse it for its actual cost of making reproduction of records,” according to the law.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States

South Carolina Public Records

The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act allows you to obtain access to the records and meetings of public officials and representatives.  Are you seeking a background check on a prospective employee? Or maybe you are searching for your mom and dad’s birth certificate. South Carolina public records are available to you, many just an online search away. 

To help make a public records request in the state of South Carolina, this guide will help requesters find criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the South Carolina public records law say?

The South Carolina Public Record Law says that records must be released within 15 days. Both residents and non-residents can request documents. If the agency does not respond to you within that 15 time period, it represents a grant of the request. 

In South Carolina, any person can request records and the record holders have a 15-day time limit to complete your request. The fees for records may not exceed the cost of copying and the time searching for records. 

The law excludes the working documents of the legislature, but you can request the minutes of the meetings. Records with personal information such as medical, adoption, and scholastic records are exempt. Income tax returns and library patron information will not be released. If a section or lines are redacted, the agency must tell you why they were withheld. 

If your request is rejected, you must go to court where you have one year to file your case.

A requester can learn more by visiting SouthCarolina.gov.

How can a person access public records in South Carolina?

Some records are available online. Others are only available through a formal records request. If a request is necessary, it can be sent by 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 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.

South Carolina criminal records

You are allowed access to criminal records in South Carolina but only the conviction information and arrest information. 

Law enforcement agencies and the subject of the records are the only ones allowed access to the total records as needed for an investigation. 

What’s on a criminal record?

The main information you will find on the criminal records is:

  • Name and aliases
  • Date of birth
  • Charges pending
  • Mugshots
  • Past arrests
  • Past or current warrants
  • Fingerprints

Where can a person find South Carolina criminal records?

To use the SLED online form, you must enter an exact last name, first initial, and the correct date of birth to get results. Social Security numbers can also be searched. If you do not have an exact name match, a fingerprint search can be completed if required by statute. 

If you opt for mail, you need to send a business check, money order, or cashier’s check to SLED Records Department in Columbia, South Carolina. You will be charged a non-refundable fee of $25.00 for mail-in and online searches. There is a $1.00 convenience fee added to the online background checks. 

South Carolina inmate records

The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) features information on inmates currently housed in the facilities as of midnight the previous day. South Carolina has twenty-one facilities, so it is helpful to have an online search option. There isn’t information on the county detentions. It does not provide information on released offenders. You can search by the web site or by using the toll-free inmate information line. 

You can confirm that an inmate is in jail and you can register with them to get status updates on the offender. A status message can be sent to your phone or an email address when there are changes in that inmate’s status.  

What’s on an inmate record?

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Offense
  • Term of offense
  • Location
  • Release date
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Citizenship

Where can a person find South Carolina inmate records?

You will need the inmate’s last name and first name or the inmate’s offender number. You can complete an advanced search if you know the inmate’s birthday, facility, and age range. 

South Carolina court records

South Carolina courts are composed of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, along with Family, Circuit, Municipal, Probate, and Magistrate Courts. There is a small claims court for cases of $7,500 or less in South Carolina and claimants will not have legal counsel. You do have access to these court records through the Freedom of Information Act. Any personal information such as social security, passport, financial accounts, passwords, or driver’s license are not included or are redacted. 

What’s on a court record?

Court records provide documentation of court proceedings and can include allegations, proceedings, sworn statements, and affidavits taken under oath. To find the exact court records you require, you need to look specifically at which court had the case. 

Circuit Court has several branches such as the civil court, criminal cases, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of General Sessions. Therefore, it is advantageous to know which circuit court will hold the records you are seeking.

Family Court holds records that pertain to custody and visitation rights, marriage, divorce, separation, alimony, marital property division, and name changes. 

Probate Court records include estates of deceased persons, guardianships, marriage licenses, or commitments to institutions for mentally ill or chemically dependent persons.

The Supreme Court’s records include appeals to circuit courts, such as death sentences, public utility rates, a challenge to a state statute, indebtedness, and elections. 

Where can a person find South Carolina court records?

To use the online search, you must know the county where the court proceedings occurred. On the web page, you click on the county to be taken to a page with basic information. More in-depth information can be found by entering a case number, court name, or court agency. You can also search by the name of a person or the name of a business. 

Not all counties provide online records, but the following countries do: Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale,Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, York.

To access court dockets and records that aren’t available online, speak with the clerk of court or visit the clerk’s office to make a formal request. 

South Carolina vital records

Vital records for South Carolina are kept at The Division of Vital Records. Here you can find births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and annulments occurring in South Carolina. The law states that only the person named on the marriage certificate, adult children of the couple, or a present or former spouse can request the records. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

  • Full name of both persons (for example a married couple)
  • Date, month, and year.
  • The state, city, and/or county. 
  • The reason you are ordering the certificate.
  • A debit or credit card is required for online requests. 
  • Your current billing or shipping addresses. No PO boxes. 

Where can a person find South Carolina vital records?

The easiest way to access vital records in South Carolina is online. If you apply on the website, you will need to pay a $17.00 non-refundable search fee, and a $10.50 fee to VitalCheck. If you need records expedited, you can pay shipping fees for UPS. You will need a valid credit card for this transaction. 

You can also apply for a record and have it mailed to you. A mail-in request needs the South Carolina Vital Records Application Form, a $12.00 non-refundable fee, and a valid photo ID (government, school, or employer). If no ID is included the request is rejected. 

Frequently asked questions about South Carolina records

Here is a  list of the frequently asked questions about South Carolina’s Public Record Law.

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

Yes. A request can be submitted by any United States citizen.  

Is there a records custodian in South Carolina?

No. South Carolina does not have a records custodian for the state. Records should be requested from the head of the division or the individual agency that stores the documents where you inquire. 

What exemptions exist?

The General Assembly’s (legislature) records are exempted except for the minutes.  Personal information that is withheld fits into categories such as medical records, library patron records, academic records, tax returns, and adoption files. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The Public Records Law of South Carolina has a 15-day time limit for requests. If they cannot get you the records within 15 days, they’re required to submit an extension in writing. If this notification is not delivered within the specified time, the request is considered approved.  

Is there an appeal process in place?

No. South Carolina does not have an appeals process. The request can be taken to the circuit court and lawyer fees may be paid to the challengers. Violators can be fined and awarded jail time, but to date, there have been no guilty verdicts awarded. You must file an appeal within one year of the violation. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

The law requires that the lowest possible cost should be charged to the person requesting the public records. The fees can be waived or reduced when the agency decides the records will benefit the general public. There is nothing that prevents the holder of the records from charging an hourly rate for making records available to be viewed. 

  • Updated November 2, 2020
  • States

Arkansas Public Records

The Freedom of Information Act gives every American citizen the right to access public records. Every state has their own version of the law, each with different rules and regulations. Given the differences that exist from state to state, accessing records isn’t always as simple as it seems. 

In fact, in many states, accessing records can be challenging. Most states keep records in different agencies and some records are closed or sealed from the public.

To help people access Arkansas public records, including criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records, we’ve created this guide to help you locate the right agency, make a request, and understand what you are and aren’t allowed to review. 

What does the Arkansas public records law say?

The state has “one of the most comprehensive and strongest open-records and open-meetings laws in the country,” according to Arkansas.gov. 

However, the state only allows residents of Arkansas to access public records. It’s one of few states in the nation with this requirement in place. 

The law requires records custodians to respond to requests within three days, which is fairly quick. If a request is denied, there is a specific action that can be taken to appeal the decision. And, the law does state that fees for copies of files must be reasonable. 

How can a person access public records in Arkansas?

For public records access in Arkansas, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, 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 offices have limited hours or are asking residents to make requests digitally as opposed to coming into an office in-person. 

Arkansas criminal records

Criminal records provide a look at a person’s interaction (or lack of) with law enforcement. Employers typically want criminal records as a way to vet new employees. Most criminal records list misdemeanor or felony offenses, but don’t mention small infractions like speeding tickets or moving violations.  

What’s on a criminal record

Information listed on a criminal record may vary, but most records contain:  

  • First middle and last name of the offender
  • Offense(s) committed and law violated
  • Physical descriptions such as race, height, eye color, hair color, and so on
  • Date of birth
  • Pending charges
  • Acquitted or dismissed charges

Where can a person find Arkansas criminal records?

The Arkansas State Police is the records custodian for all criminal records. Again, it’s usually employers who are looking to access this information. Fortunately, criminal records in Arkansas are online and provided to the public in a searchable database. 

There are two different sites that you can use. One of the sites is for people who have a person’s consent to run a background check and the other site is to run a check for personal reasons, without consent. Either way, expect to pay a fee of $20-$25 per search.

Arkansas inmate records

Inmate records are kept on every person that’s held within the state’s jails and prisons. Accessing these records can be done online as well. 

What’s on an inmate record?

An inmate record in the state of Arkansas usually offers the following information: 

  • An inmate’s full name and aliases 
  • Race
  • Gender 
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality/ethnicity as well as unique identifiers and associations  
  • Inmate’s criminal data, such as the primary charges, arrest/booking details, current sentence, bail/bond conditions 
  • Prospective court or release dates

Where can a person find Arkansas inmate records?

The Arkansas Department of Corrections holds all inmate records. The state does have these records organized digitally in a searchable database. To conduct a search, visit the website and enter information about the inmate. 

The portal gives you several ways to search. The most accurate way is to search by ID number, which is given to each inmate upon entry. However, you can also search by name and facility as well.   

Arkansas court records

Court record requests can be the most challenging. Usually, you need to know which court heard the case and make a request to the clerk of court. Arkansas, however, does have most of its records organized in an online database. 

To request records, it is helpful to have some idea of how the court system works. The supreme court is the highest court, followed by the court of appeals. Below the court of appeals are 75 trial courts and superior courts. 

What’s on a court record?

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

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

Where can a person find Arkansas court records?

All circuit courts and some district courts place records on CourtConnect. To use this portal, visit the website, enter names of those involved and provide additional information like the judge’s name to narrow the search results. Forty circuit courts, plus district courts from six counties, and two counties with probate all provide in-depth records on this platform. 

District courts that offer full information include: 

  • Crawford County 
  • Craighead County 
  • Crittenden County 
  • Faulkner County 
  • Garland County 
  • Hot Spring County 
  • Independence County
  • Poinsett County 
  • Polk County 
  • Pulaski County (Little Rock Department) 
  • Van Buren County 
  • White County (Searcy Department)

Circuit courts that offer full information include:

  • Benton 
  • Carroll
  • Conway
  • Crawford
  • Hot Spring
  • Lonoke
  • Montgomery
  • Nevada
  • Newton
  • Ouachita
  • Poinsett
  • Polk
  • Saline
  • St. Francis

A full list of circuit courts that provide full information on CourtConnect is available on the Administrative Office of the Courts website.

Another 20 courts provide partial information, like a case id, case description, and judge’s name, but not full case information.

If you have questions while using the portal, direct your questions to the Administrative Office of the Courts. 

Available cases include civil, criminal, domestic relations, and probate; case images are available for some records.

If you can’t find the court case that you’re looking for on public CourtConnect, you’ll need to request information from the court that heard the case. 

Arkansas vital records

Vital records are kept on file by the state to mark milestones like birth, marriage, divorce, and death. When these events happen, a person is issued a certified copy of the record. When parents have a child, for example, a certified birth certificate is sent to the parents. 

However, sometimes people lose these paper records and need a new one. If that’s the case, a request for a new record can be placed. 

Vital records are public, but they aren’t released as easily as other records. If you want a copy of a vital record, you need to be listed on the record, be a family member, or legally represent the person or family member. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Ready to request a vital record? If you meet the criteria mentioned above, you still need to provide information to state officials to get access. You’ll need to provide the following: 

  • Full names before first marriage of both spouses
  • Date of marriage
  • County where 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 Arkansas vital records?

You can order a certified copy of vital records online through the Department of Health. The department has several links that can facilitate needs for birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, or divorce certificates. There is a fee for these records. Expect to pay between $10-$25 per certificate. 

Frequently asked questions about Arkansas records

To further assist your search, here are FAQs about public records in Arkansas:

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

No. The State of Arkansas does not allow non-residents to request or access public records or conduct a public records search, as of a 2013 supreme court ruling. 

Arkansas is one of few states that still have this clause in its public records law. Just two other states, Virginia and Tennessee, won’t allow out-of-state residents to request public documents.

Is there a records custodian in Arkansas?

Yes. The state does have a records custodian that’s available in each department.

What exemptions exist?

The state has a fairly broad law and doesn’t specify any exemptions. It simply says that all public bodies, which includes the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government, must all provide public access to records.  

There are cases where records requested from an organization have been deemed exempt because an organization is not a public body.  

How long does that state have to respond?

The state has three business days to respond to a request. It’s one of the fastest response times in the United States.

Is there an appeal process in place?

Yes. If a request is denied, the requestor must appeal immediately. The appeal is sent to the Pulaski County Circuit Court or the circuit court located in the requestor’s county. A court date is then set within seven days where a judge decides on the record’s access. 

It’s also possible to appeal a delay, should the request not be handled in a timely manner. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Arkansas has a strict policy on fees associated with viewing or copying public records. The law says the public body may cover the actual cost to reproduce records but can’t charge a search or retrieval fee.

  • Updated October 19, 2020
  • States

Washington Public Records

The Washington Public Disclosure Act allows the examination of public records so that citizens remain informed of the government’s day-to-day business. 

Public records are not always the easiest to acquire. Some documents may need more than one form completed, to secure other records all you may need is the fee and your government ID. To help you understand the public records you can obtain in Washington, we have created this informative guide. Details in this guide will show you how to access criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the Washington public records law say?

Washington’s public records act will allow non-citizens to request public records, which is a plus especially if you are seeking information on a potential employee. They do deny access to the legislative and judicial branches and have 46 other exemptions. Washington does have a records ombudsman, also known as a public records officer, to aid any requestor’s issue. 

Washington’s Public Disclosure Act exemptions include documents that are personal such as health records, salaries of employees, financial and proprietary information, law enforcement training and investigations, victims of abuse, employment licensing, guardianships for minors, and specific education records.

Fees for your copies will be $.15 per page but they do not charge for the search. They have five days to respond to a records request. Denials must be in writing with specific reasons for the denial. If you are denied the records you can appeal to the Superior Court of the county within one year of your request. You have one year to appeal the denial and you can recover attorney’s fees. 

To learn more about requested records, visit Washington.gov.

How can a person access public records in Washington?

Access to some public records can be done online while others require a more formal request form. If you need to send a request form to a records center, it can be mailed, emailed or delivered over the phone. 

Every government agency 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.

Washington criminal records

The public may receive limited criminal history records from the Washington State Patrol. The limited records deal with conviction history and arrested less than one year old, and sex/kidnapping records. Criminal justice agencies have unrestricted access. 

What’s on a criminal record?

The criminal record you receive  will have details on the person’s exchanges with law enforcement. The records contain documents from arrests, convictions and incarcerations from Washington State’s ten male and two female prisons. 

A background check will furnish the following details:

  • A mugshot
  • Fingerprints
  • Personal information such as the person’s name, birthdate and ethnicity
  • A detailed description of physical attributes like scars or tattoos. 
  • The type of felony or misdemeanor and crime description

Where can a person find Washington criminal records?

The search will cost $11.00 per record and $10.00 extra if you require a notary. A fingerprint search will cost $58.00. Payment can be made with a debit or credit card and you will need to set up an account to use a card. 

If you want to send a request through mail, please send an application to WASHINGTON STATE PATROL, Identification and Background Check Station, PO Box 42633, Olympia, WA 98504-2633 with a $32.00 fee. 

Washington inmate records

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) holds the records and information about incarcerated person(s) at the state prisons. You can request the records by using the state’s DOC website. 

What’s on an inmate record

Criminal records are most commonly requested by employers who want to be aware of the background of a potential employee. To help employees find a person’s criminal records, we’ve provided some information and resources for you. Besides providing the inmate name, DOC number and facility where the inmate is imprisoned, the following information is provided:

  • Name, age and date of birth
  • Prison of confinement and relocations
  • Supervision conditions
  • Fines
  • Parole date
  • Release date
  • Good time

Where can a person find Washington inmate records?

You will need to set up a credit card account. You will input the first and last name of the offender and/or the DOC number. 

Washington court records

If you are searching for records from court cases in Washington, it is important to understand the courts in order to narrow your search. Washington state courts are the Supreme Court which focuses on appeals from the Court of Appeals and supervises the state court system. The Court of Appeals hears the appeals from the lower courts. The Superior Court caseload  includes civil suits, domestic cases, felony charges and juvenile matters. Misdemeanor, traffic and civil cases are tried in the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. This court also deals with small claims up to $5,000. 

What’s on a court record?

Depending on the length of the trial, documents you request can be numerous. These are the typical documents you will receive when you complete a court record search:

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

Where can a person find Washington court records?

You must enter the first and the last name of the person involved in the case you are seeking.

Washington vital records

The Washington Public Disclosure Act will provide you with vital records when you are in need of that missing marriage license or birth certificate. Birth records, death certificates, and marriage certificates are available as well as divorce records. 

You may need a certified birth certificate for a passport application, social security, school registration or to obtain your driver’s license. Heirloom birth certificates can be ordered to celebrate someone’s special day. Washington has birth records from July 1, 1907 to the present. 

Marriage certificates cost $25.00 and are available from 1968 to the present. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To prevent the invasion of an individual’s privacy, only family individuals with a specific relationship may request a copy of a vital record in Washington. Included in this list is the person listed in the record, spouse, parent, children, sibling (s), grandparents, and legal representatives. Identity with a government issued ID will be required and well as proof to the relationship. To receive these documents the following information will be required:

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

Where can a person find Washington vital records?

Vitalchek is an online website that allows you to order your documents or certificates. The turnaround time for processing and shipping is three days. You will need a credit card to order online. If you mail in an order it can take up to three weeks for delivery. The majority of the fees will be $25.00. There is an online processing fee of $8.50

Frequently asked questions about Washington records

We have compiled a list of the FAQs regarding Washington public records to provide you with additional information.

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

Yes. You do not need to be a resident to request records in the state of Washington.  

Is there a records custodian in Washington?

There is no appointed records custodian in Washington. There is a records ombudsman who facilitates requests and will aid when there are questions or confusion. This person cannot rule on requests. 

What exemptions exist?

The Washington Public Disclosure Act does not open all records in the state for searches or photocopying.The Washington legislature and judicial branch are exempt. The other 46 exemptions pertain to various personal information for example physical and mental health records, financial accounts, and tax files. Law enforcement training and investigations, along with victims of abuse records are not shared. There are specific  exemptions for records for minor children, employment licensing, guardianships, and salaries of employees. 

How long does that state have to respond?

Washington state agencies have five business days to respond to your records request. If the request is unclear they may contact the requestor to determine what documents they need. Agencies that have records available online will encourage the requestor to use this option for immediate access. 

Is there an appeals process in place? 

If your request is denied, the denial must be in writing. When this occurs, you have the option to ask for the attorney general to review the denial. The attorney general will make a ruling on whether the records you requested are exempt or not. You have one year to file an appeal with the attorney general. It is possible to collect your attorney’s fees if the case is decided in your favor. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fees for searching for your records is not charged in Washington. But the agency will charge $.15 a page for photocopying, $.10 a page for scanning, and $.05 per four electronic files. Some agencies will charge a flat $2.00 fee for specific records. A customized fee can be charged if the records require technological assistance to prepare data. 

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States

Alabama Public Records

The state of Alabama started keeping records in the early 1900s for all 67 counties. Over the last 30 years or so, most of the records have gone digital, but some paper documents still exist. 

The State of Alabama’s Public Records Law gives United States citizens the ability to request public records in an easy and efficient manner without requesting a reason why.

While the premise of the state’s law is well intentioned, as with most states, the language of the law is a bit vague and can lead to some problems. As a result, it’s best to know everything you can about the law to give you the best chance for success. 

We’ll explore what the law says and give you tips to access public records, which include criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

It’s important to keep in mind accessing public records can be time consuming. It takes time to figure out which agency maintains the records you want and it takes time to request and receive the documents from the state. 

What does the Alabama public records law say?

The Public Records code of Alabama says records can be accessed by the public with no state government or agencies off limits. However, the state does have broad safeguards in place to classify records as confidential and has done so with public safety records and public library records. 

The state doesn’t have a records custodian or a designated person to manage records. There’s also no response time written in the law. Between the lack of a records custodian and no expressed response time, requesting and receiving records in the State of Alabama can be time consuming. 

In addition, there’s no appeals process in Alabama. If a person submits a request for a copy of any public writing of this state and the request is denied, there’s no process in place to fight that decision. To learn more about the state law visit Alabama.gov.

How can a person access public records in Alabama?

For most public records in Alabama, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent to different agencies, depending on the records you want to access. 

For general records, the request is sent via mail, email, mail, or by phone to the Alabama Secretary of State. For criminal, inmate, court, and vital records, there are different agencies to contact.

No matter what agency you contact, a public records request could be needed. The 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

In some cases, it’s best to make requests by email, especially since offices may have different hours to due COVID-19. 

There are costs to copy documents. Costs vary by department. 

Alabama criminal records

Criminal records are official documents that highlight a person’s past or present criminal activity. The record explains whether a person was arrested, prosecuted, charged, entered a plea, convicted or sentenced in a misdemeanor or a felony. 

These records are often accessed by employers who want to conduct a background check on a possible hire. 

What’s on a criminal record?

Information listed on a criminal record may vary from county to county, but most records contain:  

  • First middle and last name of the offender
  • Offense(s) committed and law violated
  • Physical descriptions such as race, height, eye color, hair color, and so on
  • Date of birth
  • Pending charges
  • Acquitted or dismissed charges

Where can a person find Alabama criminal records?

The Alabama Background Check System is a secure online portal that employers can use to run a background check on a particular person. If any criminal record exists, the employer can see information like arrests, charges, and convictions. This information is often factored into a decision to hire a new candidate.  

Alabama inmate records

The Alabama Department of Corrections runs 15 major facilities. Records are kept on each inmate, most of which is considered public record. There is a free searchable database online that can provide information. However, information regarding death row inmates held at Holman Correctional Facility or Tutwiler Prison is not searchable, but can be requested.  

What’s on an inmate record?

An inmate record can provide the following information: 

  • An inmate’s full name and aliases 
  • Race
  • Gender 
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality/ethnicity as well as unique identifiers and associations  
  • Inmate’s criminal data, such as the primary charges, arrest/booking details, current sentence, bail/bond conditions 
  • Prospective court or release dates 

Where can a person find Alabama inmate records?

The Alabama Department of Corrections maintains a searchable online database of current inmates. To conduct a search, you must enter a person’s first and last name or the Alabama Institutional Serial number. 

The records can provide information on the 25,000+ inmates in the state prison system, but will not provide any details on youth offenders. 

Information on death row inmates must be requested from the Department of Corrections central office in Montgomery. 

Alabama court records

Court records can provide an overview of an entire case. Obtaining court records is one of the more complicated requests, usually because each one of the courts like district courts or federal courts keeps its own records. In many states, to request court records from the judicial system, you must do so through the clerk of court. In Alabama, however, there’s an online database for trial court records.

What’s on a court record?

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

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

Where can a person find Alabama court records?

Alabama maintains a searchable database for court records for trial court records. The website, Just One Look, costs $9.99 to run one search. Through this site, the following records can be accessed: 

  • Criminal Records
  • Civil Records
  • Small Claims Records
  • State Traffic Records
  • Domestic Relations
  • Child Support

Supreme court records can be accessed by sending a request to the Supreme Court of Alabama. 

Alabama vital records

The Center for Health Statistics files, stores, and issues copies of public records. Records that can be requested include birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. The state has an automated system that gives all counties access to records, so requests for public records can be made at the local level. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

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

  • Full names before first marriage of both spouses
  • Date of marriage
  • Alabama county where 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 Alabama vital records?

The Alabama Public Health official website is the first place to look for information on vital records. The site has links that can facilitate a search for birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce certificates. 

Due to Coronavirus, in-person requests are limited, but records can still be requested through a third-party site, VitalChek Network, Inc, by speaking with someone in your county health department, or by mailing in a request form. A certified copy of these records can be obtained through VitalChek Network, Inc.

Frequently asked questions about Alabama records

Alabama’s public record law can be challenging to understand. To help, here’s a list of frequently asked questions to provide more clarity: 

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

Yes. Requests for public records can come from residents of other states. However, the state law doesn’t specifically grant this right to people outside of Alabama. As a result, record requests can be denied, but it’s uncommon. 

Is there a records custodian in Alabama?

No. The State of Alabama does not have a records custodian, ombudsman, or public officer that maintains records. This can make tracking down such records more difficult.

What exemptions exist?

The state law doesn’t list any exemptions, but the state does reserve the right to classify records as confidential or deem them “nonpublic.” Records that include security information or the registration and circulation records of any library in the state are considered confidential. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The public records code doesn’t list a specific response time for public officials and since there is no records custodian, response time is usually quite long in Alabama. 

What kind of enforcement is in place?

The Public Records Law of Alabama is vague about records enforcement. The law says records can’t be destroyed or changed by a record keeper, and must not be withheld if they’re requested legally. If a person breaks these rules, a punishment of one year in jail is possible but the Attorney General doesn’t enforce the rule, instead it’s self-enforced. 

Is there an appeal process in place?

No. If a request for the public disclosure of records is denied, there is no appeals process. Civil action would be the only way to fight the decision. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

The law says records should be provided for free, but if budget restraints prevent this from happening the agency can charge a small fee to cover costs only. Records can be reviewed, not copied, without any fee as long as it doesn’t take up too much employee time.

  • Updated September 18, 2020
  • States

Hawaii Public Records

Public records hold a wealth of information, but they’re not always easy to access. Each state handles public records in its own way. Hawaii is one of few states with a specific government agency dedicated to the access of public records. It’s called the Office of Information Practices. This office not only handles requests from the public, but it can also give advice and manage appeals. 

Since the state of Hawaii has a government agency dedicated to records, it is easier to find and review records in this state compared to others. 

In many cases, public records can be found online and accessed at any time. However, there are several different websites that hold information. 

To better understand Hawaii’s public records law – and where to find them – we’ve created a guide that should help you access criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records.   

What does the Hawaii public records law say?

Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act is specific and expansive. The law gives the state of Hawaii ten business days to respond to a formal request for records. If the state needs more time to gather information, the state must notify you and can only take another ten days to complete the request. 

All branches of government are subject to the law. There are some records that are exempt from the law, which include those that contain personal information, medical information, or those that pertain to public safety. 

The cost to request or copy records is reasonable and all media outlets can have the fees waived. 

To learn more about Hawaii’s public record rules, visit the state website at Hawaii.gov.

How can a person access public records in Hawaii?

In some cases, Hawaiian law requires a person to submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, 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

Some offices have limited hours due to COVID-19. If you plan to visit an office in person, it’s a good idea to call ahead.

Hawaii criminal records

Criminal records, which are sometimes called rap sheets, are an essential piece of a background check. Employers often conduct background checks before bringing a new employee on board. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record contains a collection of information collected from various departments and organizations, including police departments, sheriff’s offices, the courts and correctional facilities in the state. 

In Hawaii, this official document can vary, but most will include:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Photo or mugshot
  • Details of past arrests
  • Fingerprints
  • Physical descriptions (eye color, hair color, tattoo, moles, etc.)
  • Pending charges (if applicable)

Where can a person find Hawaii criminal records?

The state of Hawaii provides access to criminal records through a public records search on its eCrim website. These records will let you review a person’s arrest and conviction record. To gain access, you need to set up an account on the site, pay a fee, and the person’s record will be emailed to you.

These records are also available by requesting them in-person at one of the following police stations:

  • Honolulu Police Department (Honolulu)
  • Hawaii Police Department (Hilo)
  • Kona Police Station (Kailua-Kona)
  • Kauai County Police Department (Lihue)
  • Maui County Police Department (Wailuku)

Hawaii inmate records

The state of Hawaii maintains records on all of its state inmates. However, unlike other states, Hawaii doesn’t have an online searchable database that you can use. The state suggests using a different resource, Vinelink, to access this information.

What’s on an inmate record?

There will be specific details about the inmate’s incarceration circumstances on an inmate record. 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 Hawaii inmate records?

While many states have a searchable database that gives the public access to inmate records, Hawaii does not. To access individual records, a person may call and request records from the individual county or jail where the inmate resides. 

There is an automated victim information and notification website, Vinelink that could provide some details. 

Hawaii court records

Court records can be difficult to track down, but Hawaii has the process fairly streamlined compared to other states. Hawaii has several online databases that can be accessed at any time by anyone.

What’s on a court record?

You can request several types of court records from a court case. Most people 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 Hawaii court records?

The Hawaii State Judiciary has two online resources for you to use: eCourt Kokua and Hoohiki. The eCourt Kokua system gives the public access to traffic cases, District Court and Circuit Court criminal, Family Court criminal, District Court and Circuit Court civil, Land Court, Tax Appeal Court, and appellate cases.

The Hoohiki system gives the public access to family court civil cases.

While many cases are available online, some records may be incomplete and some may not be online at all. Different courts started using the system at different times, so older cases may be difficult to find. 

To get access to court documents that aren’t online, you can call or visit the court where the case was heard and speak to the clerk of courts. 

Hawaii vital records

Records that pertain to birth, marriage, divorce, and death are considered vital records. These records are public, however, access is usually limited to the person listed on the record. In some cases, a family member or an attorney can get access to the records as well. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

To obtain vital records, like birth certificates or certified copies of divorce records, you need to provide some information so the correct record can be found. You need to provide:

  • 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 Hawaii vital records?

The Hawaii Department of Health maintains vital records. On the site you can get birth and marriage certificates and apply for a marriage license. To obtain a certified copy of these records, using the online system is the fastest way to go about it. Processing time is about 6-8 weeks.

Residents may also call their local Department of Health office to speak with a representative and order the records that way.

Death certificates must be requested in writing. A request can be sent in by mail. Information about requesting a death certificate can be found on the Department of Health Death Certificates page.

Frequently asked questions about Hawaii records

To further assist your records request in Hawaii, here’s a look at several frequently asked questions:

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

Anyone can request public records in Hawaii. There are no resident or citizenship requirements that other states have in place. 

Is there a records custodian in Hawaii?

Yes, Hawaii created a division of the Lieutenant Governor’s office called the Office of Information Practices to provide easy access to public records. The OIP fields requests and can deny a request as well. If a requester wants to appeal a denial, the same office will hear the case.

The state also has a Legislature-appointed state ombudsman.

What exemptions exist?

Few exceptions exist. Most of the exemptions pertain to records that have personal, medical, of safety information in them. 

There are some judicial records that are off limits. Any records that are deemed “non-administrative functions” aren’t available

In the state legislature, records that pertain to the budget and certain transcripts are exempt as well. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The state government has ten business days to respond to a request.

Is there an appeals process in place?

Yes. If a request is denied, the requester has two years to appeal the decision. The OIP can review the case or it can be heard in the courts.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

The state does charge a fee to copy and retrieve records, however, the first $30 is waived.

  • Updated October 19, 2020
  • States

Maryland Public Records

Finding public records can feel overwhelming at times. As you start digging, you may find that some records are harder to track down because they’re kept by different government departments. In other cases, the records may not be available at all. 

Fortunately, some states make it easier than others to find public records, and Maryland is one of those states. The Maryland Public Information Act helps ensure that the public has access to a number of records via government bodies at all levels. 

To assist you in tracking down criminal, court, inmate and vital records on file in Maryland, we’ve put together this easy-to-use guide. 

What does the Maryland public records law say?

According to the Maryland Attorney General’s office, people have a broad right to access public records under the Maryland Public Information Act, although the state does impose some limits to protect legitimate governmental interests and individual privacies.

The state has 30 days to respond to a request for record. If a request is denied, there is an appeals process. The appeal can be heard by a mediator or a court. 

The state does charge for copies of records, but the fees are reasonable. 

To learn more about the state’s public records law, visit Maryland.gov.

How can a person access public records in Maryland?

There are a number of ways to access public records in the state of Maryland and most can be done online to some degree with certifications sent via mail. 

Although records are provided through a variety of different government organizations, with some guidance, you’ll be able to get information on criminal, court, inmate and vital records with minimal effort thanks to technology and the shift to online databases.

If you decide to request records in person, it can be done. However, some government offices have new hours in place due to COVID-19. 

If you visit an office to request records, you’ll be asked to fill out a records request. This form asks for details about the record, names associated with it, and dates associated with it. You’ll also need to provide your contact information so the records can be sent to you. 

Maryland criminal records

It’s common for employers or landlords to do background checks on applicants. 

If you’re a private employer interested in initiating a background check on a potential employee, you’ll need to fill out a “Private Party Petition Packet” and submit it to the CJIS Authorization Administrator. 

If you work for an agency providing adult dependent care, child care, criminal justice, government employment/licensing or public housing, you must use the Application to Receive Criminal History Record Information for Employment or Licensing Purposes instead.

Individuals who live in Maryland can go to any of the authorized fingerprinting services locations. The person whose criminal history will be checked will need to bring the fingerprint card supplied by the employer or licensing agency and/or have the employer’s or licensing agency’s authorization number. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record—sometimes called a “rap sheet”—contains a collection of information collected from various departments and organizations, including police departments, sheriff’s offices, the courts and correctional facilities in the state. 

In Maryland, this official document can vary, but most will include:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Photo or mugshot
  • Details of past arrests
  • Fingerprints
  • Physical descriptions (eye color, hair color, tattoo, moles, etc.)
  • Pending charges (if applicable)

Where can a person find Maryland criminal records?

Unfortunately, all information in the Criminal justice Information System Central Repository is not available to the public without proper authorization.

Individuals can obtain criminal records through a variety sources in the state: the courts, police departments and, in the case of sex offenders, the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

For court records, start with the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site and search by the defendant’s name. Criminal records include felony and certain misdemeanor charges filed by the Grand Jury or the State’s Attorney, as well as appeals from the District Court and requests for jury trials. 

Depending on the county, some of the criminal records go back as far as 1979. Records can remain on the site indefinitely and are only removed for expungements or other court-ordered reasons. Once you find a case, you can obtain additional information from the courthouse where the case record is on file.

You can also check your county corrections website, as some, like dataMontgomery, provide the public with arrest information compiled by “CRIMS,” a jail records-management system used by Montgomery County Corrections and many other law enforcement agencies. Although all arrested persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, you may get some insight into a potential criminal activity. The CRIMs dataset includes the person’s first, middle and last name, age, city and home address down to the 100 block.

Maryland inmate records

Maryland’s Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services operates 19 institutions, including several pretrial facilities. 

What’s on an inmate record?

Maryland law allows the sharing of information regarding whether someone is in custody, as well as their commitment number and mailing address while in custody.

With nothing more than a first and last name, you can get matching results that show inmates’ birthdays, DOC IDs, holding facilities and SIDs. The SID can be used for inmate funds transactions.

Where can a person find Maryland inmate records?

Maryland’s Inmate Locator provides information on the housing location of inmates committed to the custody of the Commissioner of Correction. Although information is not available on everyone in the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, it does share data on most of the offenders housed at:

Inmates who aren’t in custody anymore are not listed. 

Maryland court records

Although some records—such as adoption cases and juvenile cases—are exempt from the Maryland Public Information Act, anyone can request court records in the state. 

The state provides detailed case information for all Maryland Circuit and District Court Case Management Systems. Criminal cases are included in the records.

What’s on a court record?

An online search through the state’s case search site provides the same information provided through court clerks’ offices, including:

  • Names of parties
  • City and state
  • Case number
  • Date of birth
  • Trial date
  • Charge
  • Case disposition

Where can a person find Maryland court records?

Additional information on a specific case can be obtained at the courthouse where the case record is on file. You need to speak with the clerk of court. Although the clerk’s office can’t accept telephone requests, you can put your request in writing. Not sure where to start? The Maryland courts are divided up as follows:

  • Appellate Courts: These are divided into 7 circuits. 
  • Circuit Courts: These are divided into 8 circuits.
  • District Court: There are 34 locations.
  • Orphans’ Court: There is one in each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Maryland vital records

Maryland’s Division of Vital Records issues certified copies of birth, death, fetal death, marriage and divorce. Marriage certificates are available from 2007 to present and divorce verifications are provided for 1992 to present. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

Before you get started, visit the Maryland Department of Health’s website. There you can review who can apply to request the certificate and then scroll down to review the mail-in application to determine what information you’ll need for that particular record (even if you order online).

Where can a person find Maryland vital records?

To access vital records, you’ll need to go through the Division of Vital Records, which is part of the Maryland Department of Health. Although the lobby is currently closed to walk-in customers due to COVID-19, you can use VitalCheck to search and order vital records, which include birth records, marriage records, divorce records, and death records.

Not all vital records are available to the public. Some certificates are only available to members of the person’s immediate family. You may be required to supply additional information to obtain a record. If this is the case, the issuing agency may request that you fill out an Identity Verification Document. Be prepared to supply the following:

  • Documentation proving your relationship to the person whose record you are seeking
  • Current state- or government-issued photo ID
  • A notarized sworn statement of identity and/or acknowledgement

These items can be scanned and uploaded.

Frequently asked questions about Maryland records

People searching for public records in Maryland may still have some unanswered questions. This list of frequently asked questions may be helpful:

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

Maryland records are accessible to anyone, being a citizen of the state or of the United States isn’t a requirement. 

Some records are limited by the requestor’s relationship with the person of record, like marriage licenses or death certificates. There are instances in which you may be able to appeal and/or seek legal representation to obtain records. 

Is there a records custodian in Maryland?

Yes. The Maryland Attorney General’s website provides a detailed list of Public Information Act representatives.

What exemptions exist?

The Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services lists several exemptions to the Public Information Act. These include some inmate case records, personnel and medical records, financial information, records containing attorney-client advice and attorney work product, investigatory records, and inter- and intra-agency memoranda and letters, among others.

How long does the state have to respond?

According to the Maryland Public Records Guide, the state government agency has 30 days to respond, although agencies are expected to produce the records in a timely manner whenever possible. 

Is there an appeals process?

The state law says appeals can be made to the court, a mediator, or a board.

Are land records public?

Yes. The Maryland State Archives has records accessible online.

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Depending on the agency supplying the record, fees can vary. Vital records are currently $10 for birth and death certificates and $12 for marriage and divorce certificates. Although agencies are allowed to charge “reasonable fees” to cover their costs, fee waivers are available when the record is of public interest.

  • Updated December 3, 2020
  • States