Nebraska Public Records
For anyone looking to access public records in Nebraska, you’re in luck. The state has a strong public records law on the books that gives the public access to many records in many different state agencies.
Unlike some states that only allow residents to access public records, Nebraska allows any U.S. citizen access to records. It doesn’t matter if you live in Lincoln, Omaha, New York City, or Miami, anyone can request Nebraska public records.
While access isn’t restricted, the processes of finding and requesting records can be a bit challenging. Records are kept by different branches of government and by different state agencies, so it can be difficult to know where to start looking.
We suggest starting your search at Nebraska.gov to learn about the state and its public records laws. In addition, this guide should prove helpful to anyone planning to request public records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Nebraska public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Nebraska?
- 3 Nebraska criminal records
- 4 Nebraska inmate records
- 5 Nebraska court records
- 6 Nebraska vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Nebraska records
What does the Nebraska public records law say?
The Nebraska Public Records Law was passed in 1975 and states that “all citizens of this state, and all other persons interested in the examination of the public records” may have access to them. Record requestors don’t need to state a purpose to obtain records either.
All states do exempt some public records from the public records law. In Nebraska, records that are exempt include any records that include personal information, medical records, law enforcement records, trade secrets, any security-related information, credit information, archaeological records, and employment records.
All branches of the state government including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches must adhere to the public records in the Nebraska constitution.
The state specifies a response time in the law, which is one of the fastest turnaround times in the United States: 4 business days.
How can a person access public records in Nebraska?
For public records access in Nebraska, a person must submit a public records request to the specific agency holding the record that you want to see. Most requests can be made by email, over the phone, or in-person. Some departments do, however, require a written request.
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, 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.
Nebraska criminal records
Criminal records provide a report of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. Employers tend to request criminal records to screen new employees. Employers want to make sure that the person they plan to hire has a clean record, which can be verified by accessing criminal records.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record lists criminal activity, arrest history, indictment records and incarceration information. When a record is pulled, you’ll likely find the following information:
- Personal information like name, date of birth, gender
- Physical descriptors
- Records of any criminal conviction
- Court orders
- Probation and probation orders
- Convicted crimes
Where can a person find Nebraska criminal records?
- Resource: Nebraska State Patrol
To access criminal reports, reach out to the Nebraska State Patrol. The agency maintains these records, which are called Nebraska Records of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP). These records only provide criminal acts that a person is fingerprinted for, so things like minor traffic violations will not be included in the reports.
The public records law gives anyone, including employers, the ability to access these records by filling out a request form or by using an online portal.
To request a record, you need to provide a person’s full name and date of birth. The search results are more accurate if a social security number is also provided.
Nebraska inmate records
Inmate records, as you might expect, provide information about a person incarcerated in the state of Nebraska. A person’s offenses and the category of the offense, be it a misdemeanor or a felony, will be listed on this type of record.
What’s on an inmate record?
An inmate record can provide personal information like race, date of birth, and nationality, but most people are looking for more specific details. The information on a Nebraska inmate record is usually pulled from several different law enforcement agencies and provides information about the offender’s:
- Earliest possible release date
Where can a person find Nebraska inmate records?
Inmate records are kept by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. To locate an offender, there is a search page that can be accessed online by anyone. To get the best results, you’ll need to enter a DCS Id Number. A search can be conducted with an inmate’s first and last name as well.
Nebraska court records
To access Nebraska court records, it’s helpful to understand how the court system works. The supreme court is the highest court authority, followed by the court of appeals. The court of appeals oversees decisions made by lower courts, which in Nebraska are made up of 93 superior and trial courts spread across the state.
What’s on a court record?
Court record details vary, but in Nebraska, most people find these pieces the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Descriptions and details of open meetings
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can a person find Nebraska court records?
- Resource: Nebraska Judicial Branch
In many states, accessing court records can be one of the most tedious and time-consuming. However, Nebraska has a searchable database that can provide a lot of information without sending special requests or talking with state officials on the phone.
To view court cases, visit the Nebraska Judicial Branch website. On this site, requesters can access criminal, civil, traffic, juvenile, and probate cases filed in all of the state’s county and district courts. You will be able to determine case detail, parties involved, court cost information and registrar of actions. If you want copies, you need to request them from the clerk of the court at the courthouse where the case was heard.
To conduct a search, there is a fee of $15 per search.
Nebraska vital records
Vital Records are records that mark life’s milestones, like birth, marriage, divorce, and death.
In Nebraska, such records are only available to the person listed on the record, an immediate family member, or an authorized legal representative of an eligible person. Nebraska isn’t the only state that has strict rules on who can access vital records. Most states have similar rules in place.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
To access a vital record, which is usually in the form of a certificate, like a marriage certificate or a death certificate, you’ll need to bring ID. The state won’t release information to just anyone, as mentioned above.
In addition, you’ll need to provide information about the vital records that you’re trying to view. Expect to provide a person’s name, which includes both a maiden and married name, along with the date of the event.
Where can a person find Nebraska vital records?
Vital records in the state of Nebraska are administered by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. A request for any of these documents requires that you prove “proper purpose” in the application. This means that you must either show that you are listed on the record or are a relative or legal guardian of the registrant.
For those who prefer to access records online, the state of Nebraska does have an online portal. On this portal, you can request a record and receive a certified copy. The processing time is about two weeks and there is a charge for each certified copy.
Frequently asked questions about Nebraska records
For those looking to access a public record from a government agency, here’s a list of frequently asked questions to help clarify the rules in Nebraska:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. The law does not say that being a resident of the state is required to gain access to public records.
Is there a records custodian in Nebraska?
No. The law says that all requests should go to the record-keeping agency. This is part of the challenge with accessing public records. Before a record can be accessed, a person must know which agency has the records to begin with. Sometimes tracking that information down is more time consuming than making the record request.
What exemptions exist?
No government agency is exempt and that includes the Nebraska legislature. However, exemptions are made for records that include personal information, medical records, law enforcement records, trade secrets, any security-related information, credit information, archaeological records, and employment records.
How long does that state have to respond?
The state has four business days to respond to a request and must make reasonable good faith efforts to fulfill all requests that come in.
Is there an appeal process in place?
There is no administrative appeal option provided. Court action may be taken at the district court in the jurisdiction in which the request was made.
If a request is ignored, you can inform the head of the agency or petition the attorney general as a means of action.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
You can take your own scanner into a department in some cases and make your own copies. However, if this is not permitted, there could be a cost for the records. However, the law says the first four hours of staff time is free. After that, a special service charge can be levied.