Connecticut Public Records
Records have been kept on various events and people for decades. However, those records weren’t always public. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which dates back to 1967, was the first time that the public was able to access records that were once kept private.
Since then, each state has created its own FOIA. Each state has different rules, so it’s important to have some knowledge of the state’s law before requesting any documents.
Any citizen, even if they don’t live in a Connecticut city like Hartford or Bridgeport, can access public records in this state.
Overall, Connecticut’s law is fairly straightforward with basic exemptions. All state agencies and any public agency is subject to the law. The state also has a quick response time when a request is submitted and an appeals process if a request is denied.
To learn more about Connecticut’s public records law, here’s some helpful information and resources to access criminal records, inmate records, court records, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Connecticut public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Connecticut?
- 3 Connecticut criminal records
- 4 Connecticut inmate records
- 5 Connecticut court records
- 6 Connecticut vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Connecticut records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Connecticut?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 Are property records public?
- 7.6 Is there an appeals process in place?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
What does the Connecticut public records law say?
The Connecticut public records law says all government agencies are subject to the law, with exemptions only for the judicial branch when it comes to judge’s records and dockets. Additional exemptions focus on records that could reveal personal information or records that contain safety measures, like those taken inside a jail.
The public records must be released to any requestor within four days. The request must either be fulfilled, denied, or extended.
If a request for state records is denied, there is an appeal process. The state does have strong enforcement of the law, stating that any records keeper that denies a reasonable request can be fined or even serve jail time.
How can a person access public records in Connecticut?
For public records access in Connecticut, 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
COVID-19 has changed a lot of office hours. If you want to request a file in-person, it’s a good idea to call ahead to ask what hours the office is open. Some offices aren’t taking in-person requests and are asking the public to make all requests digitally.
Connecticut criminal records
The state of Connecticut keeps records, or rap sheets as they’re sometimes called, on any one who has a run in with law enforcement. Criminal records are usually requested by employers who are looking to vet a new candidate. For a fee, the employer can run a background check, which looks into a person’s criminal past, if there is one.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record will provide a list of misdemeanors and felonies and will also contain the following information:
- 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 Connecticut criminal records?
The Connecticut State Police Bureau of Identification holds all criminal records. Unlike other states that have an online searchable database, in Connecticut, the records must be requested by filling out a form and mailing it in.
You can use this request form and mail it to the State Bureau of Identification in Middleton. There is a fee to request these records. If you want a complete record, a person must go to a state office and be fingerprinted. Accessing this kind of record is the most expensive, $75.
Connecticut inmate records
Every state keeps records on those incarcerated. In Connecticut, there are records on its 13,000 inmates that are scattered in jails and prisons across the state.
What’s on an inmate record?
Inmate records can be accessed for various reasons. Family members may be looking for an incarcerated family member or a victim may want to remain informed about an attacker.
An inmate record in the state of Connecticut usually offers a person’s criminal history and the following information:
- An inmate’s full name and aliases
- 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 Connecticut inmate records?
The Connecticut State Department of Corrections maintains records on inmates. The records are searchable online and can be accessed at any time, without any formal request. The database can be searched by entering a person’s first name, last name, and date of birth.
Connecticut court records
People looking to access public court records can access information online. The state does offer an online database to search for records, although some may not contain the full records that you’re looking for. If information is missing, you’ll need to reach out to the state with a request form.
What’s on a court record?
The information on a court record can vary, but in Connecticut most people are looking for these specific documents:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Orders of the court
- Judgement documentation
- Jury records and files
- Winess docuemtnation
Where can a person find Connecticut court records?
- Resource: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch
By visiting the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch and clicking on the “Public” tab on the website, you can gain access to several useful resources. The resources include access to arrest warrants, child support, court rules and standing orders, court support services, decisions and opinions, court service centers, and Connecticut state library – all of which can help you access the court documents.
Also on this site, you’ll notice on the left-hand side, “Case Lookup.” This gives you the ability to do a public records search for supreme court cases, appellate court cases, civil cases, family cases, probate court cases, housing cases, criminal cases, motor vehicle cases, and small claims cases.
If you can’t find the information that you’re looking for, you can fill out a request form for any superior court records and email it to the state judicial branch.
Connecticut vital records
A birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate, and divorce certificate are all considered vital records. Vital records are kept by each state to mark the life events of its residents.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
Vital records aren’t necessarily public. They’re only given to people listed on the record, family members of the person listed on the record, or to a lawyer that’s representing the person on the record. If you meet this criteria, you still need to provide information to state officials to get access. You’ll need to provide the following to obtain a certified copy of any vital record:
- 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 Connecticut vital records?
- Resource: Connecticut Department of Public Health
If you want to access a vital record like birth records or divorce records, you need to visit the Connecticut Department of Public Health. This state agency provides an online database to search for and request certified copies of vital records.
Each town also has a vital records office, which can process a request for records as well. However, any request for a certified copy must happen online.
Frequently asked questions about Connecticut records
As you work to request public records, you may have more questions. This FAQ section could help:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. Any United States citizen can request Connecticut public records.
Is there a records custodian in Connecticut?
Yes, an ombudsman from the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) can act as a liaison on an appeal and mediate between you and the agency.
What exemptions exist?
Connecticut lists 25 specific exemptions. In other words, there are 25 reasons for a record to remain sealed and not open to the public. Records that contain personal or medical information, public security, trade secrets, real estate appraisals, financial statements of agency employees, training manuals used by the Department of Corrections, and some law enforcement records may be exempt.
How long does that state have to respond?
The state has four days to respond to a request. They can fulfill it, deny it, or ask for an extension of time.
Are property records public?
Yes. The Connecticut Town Clerk has a website that offers public land records.To view the records, you need to set up an account on RECORDhub and search for the address that you’re looking for.
Is there an appeals process in place?
Yes. The records requester has 30 days to appeal a denial of records. The FOIC can hear the appeal. If it’s denied by the FOIC, the case can be taken to the Connecticut Superior Court.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
There are fees for copying records, which range between 25-50 cents per page. No other fees are authorized except charges at actual cost to the agency for transcription and electronic records.