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.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Hawaii public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Hawaii?
- 3 Hawaii criminal records
- 4 Hawaii inmate records
- 5 Hawaii court records
- 6 Hawaii vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Hawaii 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
- 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
Where can a person find Hawaii inmate records?
- Resource: Vinelink
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?
- Resource: Hawaii State Judiciary
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:
- 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?
- Resource: Department of Health
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.