Oklahoma Public Records
Public records can provide a wealth of information. The Oklahoma state government keeps records on everything from births and deaths to inmates and court cases. While the records are useful, they can be difficult to find, request, and receive.
This is mainly because most public records are rarely in the same state agency and are found across several departments. Knowing how to maneuver the process can save you a lot of time and energy.
To help, this comprehensive guide for the state of Oklahoma should provide insight into the public records process and aid in your quest to access certain records, specifically criminal, inmate, court, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Oklahoma public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Oklahoma?
- 3 Oklahoma criminal records
- 4 Oklahoma inmate records
- 5 Oklahoma court records
- 6 Oklahoma vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma records
What does the Oklahoma public records law say?
The state of Oklahoma says it is the inherent right of all citizens to obtain, preview, and examine the more than 35 million public records on file in accordance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act, which grants review of government records.
In Oklahoma, there are no mandatory response times, administrative appeals, or requirements of citizenship to request documents. Unless there is a request that is particularly painstaking and long, the fees associated with copying documents is nominal. All government agencies in Oklahoma must designate an officer for public records in order to receive and process all requests made by the general public.
The legislature and judiciary are also subjected to public records requests as well, with some exceptions for executive records.
According to NFOIC, exemptions to the law also cover the following:
- State evidentiary privilege
- Personnel records
- Real estate appraisals
- Registration files of sex offenders
- Business-related bids
- Public officials’ personnel notes
- Computer programs
- Medical market research
- Student records
How can a person access public records in Oklahoma?
For public records access in Oklahoma, a person may need to submit an open records request, which is a formal request form. In some cases, however, there are online resources that provide 24/7 access; no request required.
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 would like to receive the materials by
- How to deliver the documents, either by email or snail 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.
Oklahoma criminal records
All criminal history information is maintained by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and through this repository all records are available to the general public.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record provides a detailed report of a person’s interactions with various police departments in the state. The information stems from various sources and includes 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 Oklahoma criminal records?
- Resource: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Oklahoma criminal records can be accessed through the OSBI’s repository, but for the fastest results, requests should be directed towards the new online criminal history request portal, the Criminal History Information Request Portal.
Alternatively, a request can be made by filling out a criminal history request form, submitting a fax, mailing, or going in-person to the OSBI at their address in Oklahoma City. Forms of payment that are accepted are cash (if requesting in person), cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. Requests via mail must also include a postage-paid envelope.
Oklahoma inmate records
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) manages the state’s prison system and is responsible for managing and providing security for more than two dozen facilities. Inmate records in Oklahoma contain offender information and their location within the state’s correctional centers, penitentiaries, and county jails.
What’s on an inmate record?
The information listed on inmate records varies state to state. In Oklahoma the records usually contain 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 Oklahoma inmate records?
- Resource: Oklahoma Department of Corrections
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has an online portal that the public can access for inmate records. By entering a person’s ID number or first and last name, the database can provide a record instantly.
The state of Oklahoma also provides a database that gives the public a chance to download inmate records. There, you can find the status, reception date, and names of inmates.
Additional records can be procured by contacting the administrative assistant or records coordinator of the DOC Offenders Records Department. Mail-in requests are also possible via the department located in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma court records
All state, civil, criminal, and appellate cases are available through the Oklahoma State Courts Network to the general public. In some civil cases, documents that have been filed with the county clerk can be scanned and downloaded free of charge.
What’s on a court record?
In the majority of cases, court records are quite extensive and come with several various documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Orders of the court
- Judgement documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can a person find Oklahoma court records?
- Resource: Oklahoma State Courts Network
Oklahoma State Courts Network provides a searchable database of court records in the state. The website lets you search by court, which includes all county courts, by name, or by case number.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for through the website, Oklahoma provides a list of contacts that can be used to track down and access records.
For civil and criminal trials, contact the county district court where the case is pending, for appeals contact the supreme court clerk’s office, and for administrative matters the administrative office of the court should be contacted.
In some cases, you may need to provide the case type and submit a Request for Court Records form. Here are the steps for processing requested records as well as the turnaround times:
- Submit a request electronically via the Request for Records form
- Expect to be contacted within 10 business days to confirm fees due
- Pay via cashier’s check or money order
- Upon receipt of payment, allow 10 business days for processing
For copies of records, the fees are $1 for the first page, followed by $.50 cents for each additional page copied. Payment is possible via mail to the office of the Oklahoma County Court Clerk, with a self-addressed envelope necessary when remitting payment for copies.
Oklahoma vital records
Oklahoma, like most states, has an office in charge of maintaining birth records, marriage records, and death records. The Oklahoma State Vital Records Division through the Oklahoma Department of Health manages all of the birth and death records within the state.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
A request for information can be done via the Oklahoma State Vital Records Division, where interested parties can provide relevant information about a specific record. This information includes:
- 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
Where can a person find Oklahoma vital records?
Some information regarding Oklahoma vital records is available through Ok2Explore, a free searchable index maintained by Oklahoma State Vital Records Division. The index includes births that occurred more than twenty years ago and deaths that occurred more than five years ago. The Research Center offers a $15 express order for marriage records in this database. To order copies of a listing by mail, use the printable order form and include the information provided in the index.
A copy of most original records can be purchased from the Oklahoma Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk’s office of the county where the event occurred. The cost is $20.00 for the first copy and $15 for each individual copy for residents of Oklahoma. The Online rates vary for non-state residents. Expedited orders require an additional fee.
Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma records
To further assist United State citizens in their right of access, here’s a list of commonly asked questions:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. Anyone within the public body can submit a records request form.
Is there a records custodian in Oklahoma?
Yes, it’s public policy for each agency to designate a records custodian under the Oklahoma Constitution.
What exemptions exist?
There are some exemptions that cover state evidentiary priivlege, personnel records, real estate appraisals, sex offender registration files, personnel notes on public officials, business-related bids, medical market research, computer programs, and some educational records that include student records. More information can be found through the NFOIC regarding exemptions listed in Oklahoma statutes.
How long does that state have to respond?
Although it is the public’s right to access records, the state doesn’t specify a response time for requests. Typically requests are handled promptly.
Is there an appeals process in place?
Yes. In some states the appeals process is handled by the attorney general, but in Oklahoma, appeals go to the courts.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
Request fees generally cover the nominal costs for fulfilling requests and are not to exceed 25 cents per page. However, for some requests that are classified as commercial, additional fees may apply.