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.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Indiana public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Indiana?
- 3 Indiana criminal records
- 4 Indiana inmate records
- 5 Indiana court records
- 6 Indiana vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Indiana records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Indiana?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 Are property records considered public records?
- 7.6 Is there an appeals process in place?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
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?
- Resources: Indiana State Police
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?
- Resource: Indiana State Department of Corrections
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
- Court Minutes
- Court orders
- Witness documentation
- Jury records
Where can a person find Indiana court records?
- Resource: MyCase.gov
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?
- Resource: Indiana Vital Records Online
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.