Kansas Public Records
Searching for public records isn’t always a simple task. In some cases, the records aren’t available to the public. In others, they’re kept by different departments and require some significant digging.
But if you’re looking for public records in Kansas, the Kansas Open Records Act guarantees that you’ll have access to public records of government bodies at all levels in the state.
In order to help you find specific records on file in Kansas, we’ve created this state-specific guide. You’ll learn where to find the court, criminal, inmate, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Kansas public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Kansas?
- 3 Kansas criminal records
- 4 Kansas inmate records
- 5 Kansas court records
- 6 Kansas vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Kansas records
What does the Kansas public records law say?
Although anyone can request public documents in Kansas without explaining why you want them, staff in departments are allowed to decline your request if it places an “unreasonable burden” on their department. They can also reject your request for a public record if it feels it’s “designed to disrupt the follow of the workings of the government.”
To learn more about the public records law, visit the state website at Kansas.gov.
How can a person access public records in Kansas?
For public records access in Kansas, a person must submit a public records request. The request can be 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 access 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, public access to government offices may be limited in hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.
Kansas criminal records
Many of the criminal records checks requested in Kansas are done by employers seeking a background check on potential employees. If you’re an employer researching a prospective employee’s (potential) criminal history, use this guide to gather information about the process. Kansas-specific resources are also included.
What’s on a criminal record?
You may hear an abstract of criminal history, more commonly referred to as a “rap sheet,” is a document summarizing someone’s interactions with law enforcement. This data is gathered from police departments, sheriff’s offices, prosecutors, and courts throughout the state. The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) operates 12 adult correctional facilities: 8 adult sites, 3 satellite sites, and 1 juvenile correctional facility.
A typical rap sheet in Kansas is divided into four sections:
- The introduction
- Identification of the subject
- Criminal justice cycles
- Confinement cycles
Where can a person find Kansas criminal records?
- Resource: Kansas Bureau of Identification
Background checks in Kansas are administered by the Kansas Bureau of Identification. Record checks are fee-based, but both the fee and the information released will vary depending on Kansas statutes and regulations.
The Kansas Central Repository allows you to search criminal records by name or fingerprint. To submit a fingerprint, you must use the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s blank fingerprint card, which you can learn about and request here.
You can obtain the following types of conviction criminal history information on adults:
- Court convictions for felonies or misdemeanors in Kansas
- Court convictions for violations of municipal ordinances or county resolutions in Kansas
- Confinements in Kansas Department of Corrections facilities
- Arrest Records from the past 12 months
- Active diversions (not yet successfully completed)
Kansas inmate records
Kansas state prisons have approximately 10,000 inmates. According to Prison Policy Initiatives, this is near the national average for prisoners per 100,000 people.
What’s on an inmate record?
You can obtain information on any Kansas inmate who is currently incarcerated, under post-incarceration supervision, or who has been discharged from a sentence. You can’t, however, use the state’s database to get information on inmates sent to Kansas under the provisions of the interstate compact agreement. Public information on inmates includes:
- Name, physical description, and photo
- Kansas Department of Corrections Registration Number
- Conviction description
- Anticipated release date
- Housing location
- Custody or supervision level
- Institutional disciplinary record
Where can a person find Kansas inmate records?
Kansas has a criminal justice information database called the Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository (KASPER).
The searchable site will require you to enter one or more pieces of information into the search fields like a name or KDOC number. You can also use the advanced search option, which lets you filter by additional information, such as race, age, gender, facility, and more.
Kansas court records
Barring any exemptions from disclosure, anyone can obtain court records in the state of Kansas. The Kansas Judicial Branch has been gradually transitioning to a new centralized case management system, which is expected to be complete by early 2022. In the meantime, you can still find and request many court records online through their individual district website.
What’s on a court record?
The most commonly requested court records in Kansas include:
- Court case files and transcripts
- Final judgments from civil and criminal cases
- Court budgets
- Certified oaths of office
Where can a person find Kansas court records?
- Resource: Kansas Courts
Until the entire Kansas court system is added into the centralized case management system, your best bet for finding court records in the state is to review the Kansas Courts website. There you’ll find links to search for court records and request documents. There’s also a search box to help you find district court records by county or district.
Before you get started, it will help to have a general understanding of how the court system works in the state.
- Supreme Court: As the highest judicial authority in the state, the Kansas Supreme Court hears direct appeals from district courts (in serious criminal cases), cases first heard by the Court of Appeals, and cases in which a statute has been declared unconstitutional.
- Court of Appeals: With the exception of those cases appealed to the Supreme Court, this appellate court hears appeals on civil and criminal cases from Kansas district courts. The Court of Appeals also hears appeals of decisions from Kansas administrative agencies.
- District Courts: These trial courts hear civil and criminal cases from their jurisdiction.
- Municipal Courts: These city courts deal with city ordinance violations.
To search for cases by the judicial district, you’ll be directed to the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration. You can search by record number or name. Your results will only contain case information, not a full record of the filing. To obtain additional information on a case, you’ll need to contact the County Clerk where the case is filed.
To search for cases brought before the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals, you’ll need to use the Kansas Appellate Courts’s Case Inquiry System. You can search by name, appellate case number or the county where the case originated.
Kansas vital records
Kansas has an office dedicated to vital records. These include more than 10 million vital records, including births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. These records are requested for a variety of needs: passports, school enrollment, transferring property, and collecting life insurance benefits, among others.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
You’ll need varying degrees of information to obtain a vital record in Kansas. Depending on the vital record you’re requesting, be prepared with the following:
- The city of the event
- The date of the event
- The full name of the person, including maiden names
- The reason for requesting the certificate
Where can a person find Kansas vital records?
- Resource: Kansas Vital Statistics VitalChek
The Kansas Office of Vital Statistics uses VitalChek to fulfill orders for birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce records. Once your order is complete, it is sent to the government agency the next business day for processing.
It’s important to note that vital records in Kansas are not public records. This means that certified copies of a vital record can only be sent to the person named on the record, their immediate family members or a legal representative. Additionally, you can prove that you have a direct interest in obtaining the record. For example, if you jointly own property with the person of record or are named as a beneficiary in their will.
Although the Kansas Vital Statistics Office is closed to walk-in customers, the lobby allows for Will Call pick-ups.
Frequently asked questions about Kansas records
Still have questions about obtaining public records in Kansas? Review this list of frequently asked questions:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Many Kansas records are considered public, meaning that residents of any state may request them, some records are limited in terms of who is eligible to request them. You may need to get legal representation, provide proof of your relationship to the person of record, or explain why you are justified in seeking the information.
Is there a records custodian in Kansas?
No. An agent must designate a local Freedom of Information Act officer to resolve the dispute.
What exemptions exist?
There are 55 exemptions to the Kansas Open Records Act. Many of the exemptions deal with personal information, like medical records or adoption records. Records that pertain to security protocols, criminal investigations, and trade secrets are also exempt from the public records law.
How long does that state have to respond?
Kansas law says the state has three days to respond to a request.
Is there an appeal process?
If you feel your records request was unfairly denied, you can appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals or the corresponding District Court.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
Public agencies typically charge “reasonable” fees to provide access to or copies of public records. The fees vary depending on the factors involved in researching and providing that specific record.