Free Public Records Are Available From Your Local Government Agency Website
This website provides county government contact information, county history, jail visitation times, population statistics, social media news, and other resources regarding your local county officials and policies. Use this website as a resource but always consult a lawyer for legal advice. Provide information you feel is important to your community into the comment section at the bottom of any page.
What are Public Records?
These are many pieces of information held by the government and arise from non-classified federal and state documents. The reasons these records are made available are to protect the public by becoming transparent. For example, mugshots and police reports are made public so citizens can be informed about crimes and criminals in their area or even on the other side of the country. These individuals can be dangerous. These same individuals can also attempt to deceive low information individuals or cover up parts of their past. As a US citizen you can obtain these records in a variety of ways. There are many free options on the internet.
Because of the Freedom of Information Act citizens can obtain certain public records by submitting a formal request. This federal freedom of information law allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. Much of the desire for government transparency stemmed from the Department of Defense and Congressional committees evaluation of the nation’s classification system in the late 1950s. Sometimes you will be charged a fee to obtain these records depending on your states specific freedom of information circumstances.
Understanding The Process To Obtain Court Records
Records that come from the outcome of trials can be obtained online or in person. Copies of court documents – including orders regarding dissolution of marriage and judgments of dissolution, probate, name changes, criminal and civil cases are all included. Civil and Criminal court records are available depending on the record center located within the courthouse you are trying to retrieve records from. Record centers typically retain about five (5) year’s worth of records in the archive. The person working for the record center is called the Clerk of Courts. Clerks of court are the custodians of court records and are responsible for maintaining the integrity and completeness of the archive of records. Other records may be located off site. Request to view and requests for copies are two different things. A copy of a record can be requested in person and the cost could be as much as $10. Again, all of this can depend on the courthouse policy. Those people seeking copies from a case need to specify what specific documents are being requested. Provide case number(s), if known (i.e., Judgment of Conviction in ….).
Records are usually provided based off of the case number and you are provided with the entire documentation of the case unless you’d like to review the entire document catalog and purchase one off documents.
Some example of Court Records that are generally confidential:
- Juvenile court proceedings.
- Mental health commitment proceedings.
- Social security numbers, credit, debit, or electronic fund transfer card numbers and financial account numbers.
- Adoption and paternity actions.
- Preliminary domestic violence protection order files.
- Psychological evaluations and drug and alcohol treatment information.