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Kentucky Public Records

The search for public records in any state is never a direct line. Public records are usually scattered across multiple state agencies, which make them challenging to locate and request. 

You can save a lot of time and stress by knowing the state laws and it’s procedures for public records requests. 

This state-specific guide will inform you on all the pertinent rules to help you access specific public records. By using this guide, you will have all the information you need to access criminal, inmate, court, and vital records. 

What does the Kentucky public records law say?

According to Kentucky statutes currently in place, “all public records created, used or in its possession must be managed by the state.” The Kentucky Open Records Act consists of a set of laws that guarantee that public access to records is available at all levels in the state. 

The state’s executive and legislative branches are both subject to the law. The judicial branch is exempt. 

The state takes the law seriously. In subsequent years, Kentucky’s Attorney General has found that agencies that have failed to create a record management program are in direct violation of the Kentucky Open Records Act. The state pushes for transparency and strives to provide easy access to the public. 

Agencies in Kentucky must respond to a records request within three days. If the state office needs more time, a letter must be written to inform the requester of a 30-day extension. 

There are 13 exemptions to the state’s public records act, most of which are standard across the United States. 

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How can a person access public records in Kentucky?

Some records are available online while others will require a formal records request.  If a request is necessary, it can be sent via mail, email, 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 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. 

Kentucky criminal records

The criminal records in Kentucky, just as in all states, contain an official compilation of a person’s criminal history. These formal records are compiled from local, county, and state jurisdictions, and also courts and correctional facilities within the state. 

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record provides a person’s arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s nine prisons. 

More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birth date, nationality, etc.
  • A mugshot and full set of fingerprints
  • A list of distinguishing features (tattoos, birthmarks, and other physical attributes)
  • The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime

Where can a person find Kentucky criminal records?

Requests for criminal records in the state go through the Kentucky Court of Justice via their online portal. Through this site, name-based and public records reporting is available. Additionally, the Kentucky State Police administers background checks for licensing, criminal justice, and employment purposes. 

For a fee of $25, the Administrative Office of the Courts provides criminal records reports to individuals, companies, licensing agencies, government entities, and others. The AOC’s database is statewide through CourtNet 2.0, which collects court information from the local case management system in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties. CourtNet 2.0 possesses millions of Kentucky records that cover all misdemeanor and traffic cases for the last five years, plus felonies dating back to 1978. Note that criminal record reports do not contain driving or arrest records.

Kentucky inmate records

The Kentucky Department of Corrections manages all adult correctional facilities in the state, also setting the rules and standards for all county-run facilities. The KDOC manages 12 correctional facilities throughout the state.

Kentucky inmate records include the personal and official data of those that have been incarcerated in prisons and county jails within the state. 

What’s on an inmate record?

An inmate record usually contains a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed: 

  • Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
  • A mug shot
  • Inmate location
  • Inmate registration number
  • Jail transfer information
  • Custody status

Where can a person find Kentucky inmate records?

The Kentucky corrections department provides a searchable database for people who are currently incarcerated in the state as well as previous inmates who have served their time.The Kentucky inmate finder is available via the Kentucky Department of Corrections website. An inmate search is possible in Kentucky by using the legal first and last name of the inmate in question or by their aliases.

You can also conduct advanced searches by entering a Department of Corrections ID number, offender type, supervision status, location, age, crime or conviction date, race, gender, and location. When conducting your search, check a box to be able to view any available photographs of the inmate. If there is a mugshot available in the system, you will be able to see a photograph and know whether you recognize the individual. The more information entered into the system, the easier it is to narrow your search.

You can also search for formerly incarcerated inmates who are out on probation or parole, former convicts who are listed in the sex offender database, and people who are otherwise under community supervision.

If you are looking for inmates who were recently arrested or convicted in Kentucky, you might have some trouble finding them through the database. According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections website, it may take more than 120 days for new offender data to be finalized and entered into the system.

Kentucky court records

In Kentucky, the Supreme Court serves as the highest legal authority, and thus has the power to oversee decisions made by lesser courts. This means that the Supreme Court can check any decision made by the Court of Appeals, plus weigh in on any legal conflicts and questions.

The Court of Appeals then acts in a similar manner over district courts and circuit courts, reviewing decisions made when one party contests a decision. 

What’s on a court record?

In the majority of cases, court records are quite large and come with several varying documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful: 

  • Court minutes
  • Case files
  • Dockets
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgement documentation
  • Jury records and files
  • Witness documentation

Where can a person find Kentucky court records?

Information on the Kentucky court system can be obtained through the administrator of the courts website. The state has its own online CourtNet website where criminal and cican be searched which provides the corresponding copies that can be requested through the appropriate courthouse.

Public entities that must produce records include all state and local government offices.  This also includes the executive and legislative branches, and any body that receives at least 25 percent of its funds from the state. The judicial branch is not subject to the law per case law via the state Supreme Court. Records that are exempt include:

  • Personal information
  • Trade secrets
  • Medical files
  • Examination data
  • Law enforcement records
  • Records made exempt by statute

Kentucky vital records

The Office of Vital Statistics (OVS) is in charge of milestone records like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records. They can help citizens get certified copies as well.  

The Office of Vital Statistics does not provide birth records or death records prior to 1911, except delayed records of births for those born before 1911 which have been established through affidavits and documentary evidence.

What information is needed to request a vital record?

A request for information can be done via the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics site, where interested parties can provide relevant information about a specific record. This information may include:

  • The location of the event
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The full name of the person, including maiden names 
  • A case file number for divorce records
  • The license number for a marriage record
  • A form of identification like drivers licenses

Where can a person find Kentucky vital records?

The Office of Vital Statistics maintains the vital records in the state of Kentucky. Requests for copies of records must be done in writing and made via mail, online forms, or in-person. There is also the possibility to request and purchase records online or receive them through the mail. 

Due to COVID-19, all in-person services for OVS have been suspended until further notice. However, mail-in and online orders for certificates are also available. You can submit mail-in orders to the Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort, Kentucky. The website will update information as situations change. 

Frequently asked questions about Kentucky records

To further assist citizens in their public records search, here’s a list of commonly asked questions: 

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes. Whether you live in Fayette, Louisville, and New York City, residency doesn’t matter. Anyone can request records. 

Is there a records custodian in Kentucky?


Are property records public?

Yes. You can speak with the county clerk to conduct a deeds check. 

What exemptions exist?

There are 13 exemptions in KORA, with the majority of these more or less standard with what can be seen in other state’s FOIA statutes. There are certain categories of personal information in regards to civilians, trade secrets, police methods and active investigations, reports, laws, preliminary drafts, homeland security, public agency real estate purchases, patient medical records, and certain academic examinations are all under exemption status. A more thorough breakdown of exemptions can be found on the state’s transparency site.

How long does that state have to respond?

Agencies in the state of Kentucky have three days to deny or accept a request. If more time is necessary, these agencies will write a letter informing the requester of their 30-day extension. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

There is the possibility to appeal, but it’s quicker to administratively appeal to the Attorney General of Kentucky. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Government agencies are not allowed to charge for searches, but noncommercial requests are subject to copying fees. For noncommercial requests, agencies can charge the actual cost for the time spent making copies of records. Commercial requests are subject to fees at reasonable prices. Expect to pay around 10 cents per page. 

  • Updated December 8, 2020
  • States

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