The role of public records is crucial in an open government. While the Freedom of Information Act grants federal access to documents, each state has its own laws as well.
Public records in Utah are governed by the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). As you might expect, the law can be a little confusing. As with many states, records are often held by different agencies, which makes locating records difficult. Once located, the process to request records varies.
To help requesters gain access to Utah public records, this guide will provide valuable information to obtain criminal, inmate, court, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Utah public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Utah?
- 3 Utah criminal records
- 4 Utah inmate records
- 5 Utah court records
- 6 Utah vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Utah records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Utah?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 Is there an appeals process in place?
- 7.6 Are property records considered public?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
What does the Utah public records law say?
Each of the states has different policies and laws. In Utah, all government branches are subject to the law, and any member of the public can view records.
However, there are some exemptions. Records that contain any private information like medical records, addresses of elected officials, or details about government employees are exempted from open record laws.
Usually, a government agency responds to requests in ten days. If a media outlet makes a request, it’s usually answered a little faster; within 5 business days.
If a request is denied, there is an appeals process. A requester can file a complaint with the head of the agency and the State Records Committee. If the case goes further, it ends up in district court.
You can learn more about conducting a public records search at Utah.gov.
How can a person access public records in Utah?
For public records access in Utah, you may be able to access some online. Others are held by specific agencies. In some cases, you may need to file a request form. If so, it can be filed by 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.
Utah criminal records
The summary of a person’s criminal history is known as a criminal record. It’s also referred to as a rap sheet, which consists of convictions and arrests. These records are maintained by local law enforcement agencies.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record is the history of the individual that gives complete details related to the person’s interaction with law enforcement. Various resources are used to pull these records and ensure that the person’s previous arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations are recorded for the future.
Information that is recorded within the criminal record more specifically includes:
- The personal information of a person, for example, name, date of birth, nationality, etc.
- Biometrics of the person, including fingerprints and the mug shot.
- Highlights the distinguishing feature of an individual like physical attributes or any other tattoos.
- Details regarding the type of crime.
Where can a person find Utah criminal records?
- Resource: Utah Department of Public Safety
The state of Utah has certain rules when it comes to requesting criminal records. Only certain businesses can gain access. Businesses that work with children, like a childcare center, or any state or local government can run a background check. Other private companies aren’t allowed to request records. However, a company can ask that an employee request his or her own record, which must be accompanied by a set of fingerprints.
The link above has more information and explains who can and can’t access records.
Utah inmate records
Utah inmate records contain information regarding a person’s current and past incarceration status. These documents can also include sentencing information.
Maintenance of these documents is generally done by the Utah Department of the Corrections.
What’s on an inmate record?
Inmate records contain an individual’s name, mugshot, and physical attributes. Furthermore, it also contains detailed information regarding an inmate’s conviction, incarceration, and the prospective release dates.
Where can a person find Utah inmate records?
- Resource: Utah Department of Corrections
Utah inmate records are maintained by the Department of Corrections. You can access information by visiting the website above and filling out the online form. You need the inmate’s first and last name or the inmate’s ID number. You’ll receive an immediate response if there’s a record on the inmate that you searched.
Utah court records
Court records are recorded by the courts themselves. Information provided in court records includes allegation documents, proceeding, and affidavits that are taken under oath.
What’s on a court record?
A court record usually contains specific information that was presented during a trial. You’ll find copies of evidence, witness testimonies, and expert reports inside court records. Think of court records as a complete summary of a case.
Where can a person find Utah court records?
- Resource: Utah Courts
Utah, unlike other states, has an online database of court records that’s easy to search. You can run an appellate docket search, look through appellate court records, or browse district court records. If you’re looking for a case that’s more than 50 years old, you’ll need to look through archived records.
While many records are available online, you may be directed to a clerk of court or a county clerk if a record is missing or not electronically logged into the Utah state courts system.
To access supreme court records, visit the Utah Supreme Court website.
Utah vital records
Birth records, death records, marriage records, and divorce records are included in vital records. These records are maintained back to 1905 and can be accessed when ordered in person, through email, or requested online.
For marriages that took place after 2011, certificates can also be obtained from the county where the event took place. However, many agencies are requesting that people place orders online due COVID-19.
Only the person listed on a vital record or a family member can obtain these records in Utah.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
When requesting other records, providing your personal information isn’t necessary. When you request a vital record, however, it is necessary. You must be listed on the record or be of blood relation to the person listed on the record.
Where can a person find Utah vital records?
Vital statistics and records can be requested online. Many government agencies, including the Utah Department of Health, are encouraging residents to use the online ordering feature to limit the number of people inside of buildings due to the Coronavirus.
To request a vital record, you’ll need to create an online account, prove your identity, and pay a fee. Certified copies of birth certificates or death certificates are mailed to your home, but it usually takes 2-8 weeks to receive them.
Frequently asked questions about Utah records
There are lots of questions about utilizing the state’s records service. To provide further assistance, here’s a list of frequently asked questions that should further explain the Utah code.
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Utah does not have a residency requirement in its constitution. In other words, you can live anywhere in the United States and request public records.
Is there a records custodian in Utah?
Yes. The state law does appoint a records custodian or an ombudsman who can handle all requests.
What exemptions exist?
Utah’s public records law is fairly open. The only time records are restricted or exempt from the law is if they contain personal information or can impact public security.
How long does that state have to respond?
In Utah, a state agency has ten business days to respond to a public request and five business days to respond to a request from the media.
Is there an appeals process in place?
Yes. Utah does have several administrative appeals options. A requester can file a complaint with the head of the public agency that holds the records or file a complaint with the State Records Committee in Salt Lake City. If these options don’t work, a case can be filed in district court.
Are property records considered public?
Yes. Real estate transactions and unclaimed property are both considered public information. Most counties in the state, like Utah County, have an online database that can be searched online. If the records are older, consider visiting the Utah State Archives for more information.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
Utah’s law says a state agency can charge a “reasonable fee to cover the actual cost of obtaining the record.” This language is meant to keep fees low.