Public records from the state of Massachusetts are available from a variety of different sources. There have been laws on the books in Massachusetts mandating the disclosure of public records since 1851, and many records are open if you know who and how to ask for them. Here is how you can access the various types of public records in the state of Massachusetts.
In the state of Massachusetts, the process of accessing public records is fairly straightforward. According to state public records law, any records that are created by or in the custody of any government body of the state must be made available unless it can be shown that the information will be a danger to public safety.
Exceptions to this open door policy include:
Massachusetts criminal records checks can be done on almost anyone in the state, with easy background checks that pull up arrest records and other in-depth information. In Massachusetts, a criminal record is called a CORI, which stands for “Criminal Offender Record Information” and these reports are largely open to anyone through an online portal run by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. While certain classes, such as employers, landlords, real estate agents, and government agencies, will see a more complete report, the general public can pull reports on anyone that will show recent convictions.
In order to locate an offender who is currently an inmate at one of the Massachusetts Department of Correction facilities, you will need to have the offender’s first name, last name and/or commitment number. You can look up the information at Vinelink.com, or you can call (877) 421-8463 for further information.
If you have questions or concerns about a current inmate, you can refer to the state of Massachusetts Victim Services unit.
If you are looking for court records in Massachusetts, it will depend on the particular court and type of case as to the proper method for obtaining records. Certain trial court case information is available to the public electronically via eAccess, where users can search by case name, case number, and case type. For court records and information before 1860, you will need to search the Judicial Archives at the State Archives of Boston. Access to records at the county level may be achieved either through the county’s website or by enlisting the help of a third party service.
All vital records in Massachusetts should be requested through their Department of Human Services, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, with the exception of very old records.
Birth and death records in Massachusetts go back as far as 1841. For records before this date, you may wish to contact the particular town or city. From 1841 to 1920, records were maintained at the Massachusetts State Archives, and you must request records from them directly either via mail or in person. You will need to know the person’s name, and the city or town in which the birth or death occurred. The archive is located at: 220 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, MA 02125.
Beginning in 1921, The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics is the place to request all birth, death, marriage and divorce records. There is no online method of requesting these. You would also either need to request via mail, in person, or through a third party website. Their address is: 120 Mt. Vernon St., 1st Floor, Dorchester, MA 02125.
Accessing public records in Rhode Island, depending on the type of records you are looking for, is protected by law and is a very straightforward process. Because of this, there is a fairly standard procedure depending on what you are looking for. Many records are available online, but access to them is limited overall. Because of this, it’s best to see what is the best procedure to access records by contacting the offices below directly.
The General Laws of Rhode Island in Section 38-2 detail the wide level of access given to public records in the state of Rhode Island. The rights of persons or agencies to obtain records of actions that involve government agencies and the public, from court records to criminal and arrest records are generally protected within the statutes of Rhode Island law, with the exception listed in 38-2.3.16, which in certain cases allows public agencies to deny access for reasons which surround the general welfare of the state. With that exception in mind, access to Rhode Island public records is fairly easy and straightforward, depending on what you are looking for.
Rhode Island has a fairly straightforward, but heavily localized, procedure for arrest records. Depending on which town or municipality you are looking in, you can also call and get arrest logs from the local police department; some of these are available online.
In terms of criminal records and background checks, the Rhode Island District Attorney’s Office allows businesses with a signed consent form to gain access to background checks (known as BCI’s) for a nominal fee of $5 per background check. These checks, however, are specifically limited to the state of Rhode Island. For a national background check (which is required for many job positions) you would have to go through the office of the Attorney General or Rhode island State Police, and there is a fee of $35.
Inmate Records for Rhode Island are available online, and can be found on the Rhode Island Department of Corrections Website. For those looking for a loved one, this gives all the information someone needs to know. For crime victims trying to keep tabs on an offender out of concern for the possibility of retaliation, VINElink is a website that makes use of a national database to notify victims by phone of where inmates are being kept as well as custody changes if and when they occur.
Rhode Island Court Records are accessed through the state’s judiciary. Court records go through the Rhode Island Judiciary and you can actually visit online and get records for cases and the status of the particular court process. You can search either by name or docket number if you have that available.
It is important to note that remote access to these records online is limited to those directly involved in a case, attorneys, and law enforcement agencies. If you’d like county court records, it’s a good idea to go down to the county courthouse where access to these records is provided at a terminal for a nominal fee.
Contact information for the state court administrator can be found at the Rhode Island Supreme Court website.
Vital records can be gotten from the Rhode Island Department of Health, which has a division of Birth, Death, and Vital Records. Each county has a division where this information can be obtained, either in person or by mail. The Department of Health Website contains a list of county offices where records can be obtained, as well as fees and other information.
Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital and home to the center of the country’s political system. From the White House to the halls of Congress, important decisions are made every day that affect all our lives. The types of work performed in the city involves the handling of sensitive and in some cases classified and confidential information necessary to keep our nation strong and protected.
Individuals seeking employment in Washington, D.C. generally must submit to rigorous background checks before receiving required clearances or authorizations to work with government agencies or those companies that support the work of the city. A background check will access those public records that provide information about a person’s criminal and civil background, as well as ensure that the person’s background is suitable for the type of employment opportunity in which they seek.
Any person has the right to request access to publicly available records of other persons. This right is provided under the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act or FOIA, under sections 2-531-539 of the D.C. Code. A formal request may be submitted online through the DC government Public FOIA Portal. Requests may also be made via mail, fax or email however online requests are handled more quickly. Documents that may not be available through a FOIA request include documents related to law-enforcement activities, those documents subject to attorney-client and work-product privilege and other documents required to be withheld under law. A complete list of exempt documents can be found in section 2-534 of the D.C. Code.
A search for criminal records, including arrest records and background checks of a person may only be requested by the person upon whom the information is based, unless authorization is given by that person to a third-party (i.e. an employer). Known as police clearances, these requests are handled through the Metropolitan Police Department for the District of Columbia and must be requested in person. A person seeking a police clearance must complete the PD Form 70 (“Criminal History Request”) and pay $7. Requests typically take up to 24 hours to process and 10 days to complete.
Information concerning the status of an individual who is currently incarcerated in the District of Columbia can be accessed by calling the D.C. Department of Corrections Department of Records Office at (202) 523-7060 or using the Victim Information & Notification Everyday (VINE) portal. You will need to register with VINE and must have the inmate’s offender ID number, last and first name in order to determine their location and current disposition. There is no public online database that D.C. offers on inmates other than what may be requested through the Department of Corrections or via VINE.
The D.C. Court Cases online portal provides information on civil and criminal cases adjudicated in the District of Columbia. Information provided in the portal can be accessed on any person or company where a case has been filed, either in Small Claims Court, the Landlord & Tenant Branch, Civil, and Criminal Court.
Vital records for a person born in the District of Columbia are maintained by the Department of Health. These records include birth, death, domestic partnership registration, marriage and divorce records. Persons who are permitted access to vital records include those with a “direct and tangible interest” in such records as defined in section 7-220(1) of the D.C. Code. This includes the registrant (person) upon whom the record is based, immediate family member, guardian or legal representative. If a person requesting a vital record is not the registrant or immediate family member, a direct and tangible interest must be demonstrated in order to protect the person’s personal and property right.
Requests may be accommodated in person or by mail as well as by phone at (877) 572-6332. Requests for vital records may also be made online through VitalChek.com, a source for certified vital records. The Department maintains birth, death, marriage and divorce records dating back to August 1874 and records regarding domestic partnerships since 1992.
All public records in the state are managed by the New Mexico Commission of Public Records, based out of the State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe.
Under the Inspection of Public Records Act, nearly every public record in the state is available for viewing and copying by the general public. The only exceptions are medical records of persons residing in institutions, letters of reference, letters of opinion in student or employee files, law enforcement records that reveal confidential sources, trade secrets and tactical response plans for emergencies such as terrorist attacks.
Each state and local governmental agency has a records custodian to whom requests for records are directed. If the records cannot be made available within 15 business days, the requester must be provided with a written explanation as to why. Fees are set at 25 cents per page, $2.75 for audio tapes and $6.75 for DVDs.
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety is responsible for handling official state background checks. Arrest records are maintained by the New Mexico State Central Repository for Criminal History.
Individuals can obtain their own criminal records by completing an authorization for the release of information and submitting it to the Department of Public Safety. The only third parties that can access full criminal records are law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.
New Mexico rarely allows criminal records to be expunged. It can only be done if the arrest was for a misdemeanor or lesser charge and no record of disposition can be found. Convictions cannot be expunged, but DNA records can be removed from the state database under certain circumstances — if the conviction was reversed, if a felony charge was not brought within one year of the arrest or if felony charges were dropped or resolved after completion of a a preprosecution diversion program.
The New Mexico Corrections Department maintains an online “Offender Search” tool that can be used by the general public. Offenders who are incarcerated in state facilities can be searched for by last and first name, offender number or NMCD number. Information available to the general public is limited to a mugshot, full name, age, sex, location and dates of incarceration and release.
The individual counties maintain records of the inmates incarcerated in county and city facilities, and many of them have their own similar online search tools.
Court records are centrally managed by the state through the New Mexico Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch maintains an online search tool at its website that can be used by the general public. Records are also available in person from the court clerk of each judicial court. A small fee is usually charged for reproduction of each type of record.
Cases filed in county probate courts can be accessed by visiting each court in person. At this time, Bernallilo County is the only county that maintains an online search tool for probate court cases.
The New Mexico Department of Health is responsible for maintaining and issuing birth and death records. The department also issues “Acknowledgment of Paternity” requests and maintains a putative father registry. Copies of marriage licenses and divorce decrees must be obtained from the original county of issue.
The Department of Health does not have cutoff dates before which records are not available, but very old records are not necessarily guaranteed to be available. Birth certificates become a matter of public record 100 years after the date that they are issued. Death certificates become a matter of public record 50 years after the date of death. There is a search fee of $10 per record for birth certificates and $5 per record for death certificates.
Iowa is a Midwestern state of over 3 million residents that sits between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Known for its rolling hills, corn fields, and picturesque landscape, the region is sometimes called the “American Heartland.” Iowa has public records laws on its books to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels.
The first public records law in Iowa was enacted in 1967 and is covered under Iowa Code § 22 et seq. There is no restriction on who may access public records in Iowa, and there is no limitation stated on the reason for access. The public records law makes access available to “all records” of any county, city, township, school, corporation, political subdivision, and nonprofit corporation that is supported in whole or in part by property tax revenue. There are no exemptions for the governor or the legislature.
There are some exemptions to this law. In fact, there are 64 categories of exemptions in the Act and they relate to such things as:
Iowa Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks
Background checks in Iowa are administered by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Criminal Record History Record Dissemination Unit. The DCI has a website that allows for a limited, non-waiver, records check in which anyone can run a check on anyone else without their permission. This will produce a background check that will not have current arrests if they haven’t yet had a final disposition. A more complete criminal records check requires a signed consent and should be requested through the proper form. The records that come back for either of these background checks are for Iowa only and do not include any other states.
The Iowa Department of Corrections is the place to find out information related to offenders in the state, get help for victim’s assistance, and learn about the prison system. If you want to locate an offender in the system, you can either search directly on their website or through their partner site, Vinelink.com. Knowing as much about the offender as possible is helpful, such as First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, and County where the offense took place. You will be provided information on where they are being housed, their charges, and their estimated release date.
Access to court records in Iowa is fairly simple if you know where to look. All Iowa court information can be found through its Administrator of the Courts. Request records on particular cases at the appropriate courthouse or you can search records online through the Iowa Courts Online Search. This is also the place to find out a docket schedule and learn about such things a child support payment rulings and fines that are due to the court. Cases that are older than 1991 may need to be researched directly at the courthouse.
In the state of Iowa, vital events such as birth, death, marriage and divorce are recorded by the Iowa Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Registration of births and deaths in Iowa began in 1880, and all original records are on file with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Birth Certificates: Birth certificates can be obtained through the state or through the county recorder’s office. However, county recorders cannot give out records for single-parent births before 1995, births between 1921-1941, or any record sealed by a court of law.
Death Certificates: Death certificates can be obtained through the state or the county recorder’s office. However, county recorders cannot give out records for deaths between 1921-1941 or any record sealed by a court of law.
Marriage Certificates: Marriage certificates can be obtained from the state agency or through the county in which the marriage occurred. However, copies of marriage certificates cannot be issued where records have been sealed by the court or for marriages taking place between 1921-1941.
Death Certificates: Death certificates can be obtained from the state agency or through the county in which the death occurred. However, copies of death certificates cannot be issued where records have been sealed by the court or for deaths taking place between 1921-1941.
The persons requesting any of these records must show that they are entitled to them by being a person named on the record, or that person’s spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, legal representative or legal guardian. Legal guardians, legal representatives, and siblings must present additional proof of entitlement.
Wyoming has the second lowest population density in the nation and also one of the shortest public records statutes. The state of Wyoming tries to make it easy on its citizens by making access to records simple and open.
Wyoming public records are governed by state statutes §§ 16-4-201 – 16-4-205. The law says that public records may be requested by “any person” and that they do not have to name the reason for the request. Public records covered by the law include any materials created by the state of Wyoming, including any of its counties, agencies, or municipalities. The law covers the executive and legislative branches of governments. Any public agency must make records available upon request, through a reasonable process and at a fair cost.
Exceptions to the law (what you can’t get) include:
Background checks in Wyoming are handled by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). A report will show all arrests and convictions in Wyoming as well as in the Western Identification Network (WIN), which includes seven other states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. An employer can request these records on current and prospective employees. Anyone can pull one of these reports on themselves but not on someone else. All background checks must be done through a fingerprint card, not just a name search.
If you are searching for an inmate who is being housed by the Wyoming Department of Corrections, you will be able to determine where they are currently incarcerated, the specific conviction, a projected parole or release date, and a physical description with a photograph. This information can be obtained through Vinelink.com. To search, you should know the persons Offender ID or their Last Name and First Name.
Court records in Wyoming for both criminal and civil court cases can easily by obtained by signing up for the online Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER). Anything not available on PACER should be pursued with the particular court the case is being heard in, and you can research that through the state administrator of the courts.
Vital records in Wyoming are obtained through the Wyoming Department of Health. This is for more current records and certificates, such as birth, death, marriage and divorce. The requirements for each and how far back they can go depends on the particular certificate
Birth Certificates: The state of Wyoming began issuing birth certificated in 1909. After 100 years, the certificate becomes public record and can be viewed at the State Archives. Otherwise, birth certificates can only be obtained by the registrant if they are at least 18 years old, either parent, a legal representative or legal guardian.
Death Certificates: Similar to birth certificates, death certificates were not issued in Wyoming until 1909. After 50 years, they become public record, and you can view them at the State Archives. Otherwise, access is through the Department of Health and certificates can be obtained by immediate family members, lawyers, estate executors, and insurance companies.
Marriage Certificates: Marriage certificates in Wyoming have always been issued by the counties, and this continues today. Beginning in 1941, the state also began to issue marriage certificates. After 50 years, all of these become public record and be researched at the Archives. Otherwise, State-issued certificates can be obtained through the Department of Health and others through the county of origin.
Divorce Certificates: Wyoming has only been issuing Certificates of Divorce since 1941. After 50 years, these become public record and can be researched through the Archives. Otherwise, either party to the divorce or their lawyer can make a request through the Wyoming Department of Health or the county of origin.
The state of Wyoming only issues certified copies of certificates for events that occurred in the state of Wyoming. To receive any of these certificates, you should mail your request with a personalized check to their office in Cheyenne.
Accessing public records varies from state to state. There different procedures, laws and information available to the public. It can be a quagmire trying jump through all the bureaucratic red tape to find the information you are looking for. In some cases, the information is at your fingertips, in others you must submit a written request and apply in person to view the records. Some of the most common records accessed are criminal records including arrests and convictions, court records, and vital statistics. There are many reasons to access public records, from doing background checks on future employees or presenting proof of death to credit card companies and other government agencies.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Americans have access to many records that were once kept carefully guarded under lock and key. It literally took an act of congress to make several vital statistics and criminal records available to anyone. Groups like the National Freedom of Information Coalition protect our ability to access certain records available to the public under the FOIA. The Connecticut FOIA that was enacted in 1975, insures the state’s residents’ ability to attend public meetings and to access public information such as any information that has an effect on the public, like real estate sales, business permit applications, court rulings, Zoning ordinances and other public business.
Background checks in Connecticut can be obtained using many commercial “gotcha sites” that promise free information only to lead the user to a page requesting credit card information and membership fees. The official issuer of background information is the State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety Division of State Police Bureau of Identification using an official request form. Information disclosed can be searched either by name or fingerprint. There is a $50 fee for the search, and disclosures apply. In Connecticut, this information will include criminal history current as of the date of request. The Connecticut Judicial Law Libraries offers more complete information regarding use of criminal records. Records that have been granted erasure will not be included in the reports. Likewise, information regarding juvenile convictions are not made available to the public.
Anyone can search inmate and jail records for free through the Connecticut State Department of Corrections. This online search will produce records of anyone that is currently incarcerated, including persons awaiting trial. Therefore, even though someone may be housed in the jail, they are not to presumed guilty until after trial. Release dates are subject to change depending on inmate behavior credits earned.
Most court proceeding records are available to the public, the notable exception being cases involving juveniles and lawsuits that have a nondisclosure clause as part of the settlement. In Connecticut the public can access court records by navigating to the public tab on the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website. Here the public has access to arrest warrants, child support, court rules and standing orders, court support services, decisions and opinions, court service centers, law libraries and other helpful services to help the public find the answer to their questions.
The Department of Public Health maintains all of Connecticut’s vital statistics that include birth records, death records, fetal death records, marriages, divorces, and civil unions that have happened within the state’s boundaries. Genealogical records are available on the DPH’s website and can be accessed for medical or scientific research. In order to access these records, the requester must file proof that records accessed will be used for those purposes and only those purposes. Records available online date back to 1992. Birth records are confidential and will only be issued under certain circumstances. Additional vital statistics date back to July 1, 1897 and can be accessed following special procedures. These records can be accessed following directions on the Department of Health’s website found here. There are fees associated with accessing these records.
As with each state, public access to records is protected by the Freedom of Information Act. In Kansas, the first FOIA was passed in 1957 and has been updated twice, once in 1972 and again in 1984. The FOIA protects citizens’ rights to obtain information that effects the public and that has been determined to be public information. Information protected under this act includes information discussed at public meetings, such as town council sessions, judicial proceedings and any other meeting whose proceedings and outcome will have an impact on the public. Examples of these meetings include local school board meetings, legislative sessions, public utility meetings and other meetings of agencies in which the public has an interest. Excluded from these are juvenile court proceedings, military records whose release would compromise the safety of the general public and information in ongoing lawsuits whose release could influence the proceedings outcome.
In Kansas, accessing criminal and arrest records is as simple as visiting the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s website and entering the appropriate information. Conducting a background check will cost $20.00 per search, and can be done by anyone, for anyone. Certain records will not be released when prohibited by statutes, such as juvenile records, expunged records and any other criminal record that is exempt from being released to the general public. Also not included are arrests in which persons were found not guilty or in which the case was dismissed. Diversions that have been successfully completed, arrest records over a year old that have no record of disposition. What will be included are criminal convictions, both misdemeanor and felony, convictions for violations of city and county ordinances that are considered misdemeanors according to statutes. Arrest records from the prior 12 months that have no disposition and diversions that are active are also included.
Jail and inmate records are found in Kansas by searching KASPER– Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository. While the state strives to keep completely accurate records, if someone finds an error, they are able to alert the state to get it rectified. The public can access records of anyone that is currently incarcerated through the Kansas Department of Criminal Justice, but the search must include at the very least a name. This site also has an advanced search feature to help pull up records. Often this information is needed in order to locate an offender. Other information provided by KASPER includes Parole and Community Corrections absconders. Absconder information can be accessed with pictures and thumbnails, which is a handy feature to help keep Kansans safe.
Kansas court records and opinions can be accessed from the Kansas Judicial Branch website. Here the public can access court decisions and opinions. The site contains self-help directories to guide the public in their search. Another site that can be used to access court records is the Office of Judicial Administration. The public can search active and completed cases by names of those involved. There are limitations regarding what records are found here. Sedgwick and Wyandotte counties are exceptions and there are links to those counties sites, however these sites are only available as subscriptions services. The OJA site charges $1 per search, even when no results are produced unless the user is a subscriber to the site. Records retrieved include civil limited action, domestic and family law, marriage licenses, personal property tax records, probate, small claims, state tax and statutory liens. Those wishing to avoid the fee can try searching county specific records. Some counties, such as Shawnee County Third Judicial District, provide public access online for free. Juvenile records are not included unless transferred to adult status.
As with all vital statistics, the public has limited access. Adoption records may or may not be available depending on the terms of the adoption. If it was an open adoption, then the records are available, but a closed adoption has had the records sealed. Birth records, death records, marriage and divorce records as well as still born records are available at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment through the Office of Vital Statistics. Citizens can also obtain a copy of their birth certificate here, as well as certificates of no marriage. These records are not public records and can only be accessed by the parties listed on the records. Kansas protects this information to prevent identity theft and other issues that can arise by releasing this sensitive information to the public.