Public records and free information are the bedrock of democracy. They allow us to keep an eye on the government, make sure our judicial system functions properly, and learn more about the actions taken by both elected and non elected officials. If you have the time and patience, you can generally get access to what you need. We can divide Public Records into two major sub:. When most people look for public records, they are talking about the first type of record — information about a specific person.
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In fact, many types of records are protected by key exemptions, such as in the case that they hold private or confidential information. The following types of records are not public records:.
There are a lot of websites that provide access to a variety of public records in one place. Anyone can submit a public records request from a government agency, and that agency is required by law although there are certain exemptions for a of types of official recordsto provide the information in a timely fashion.
While the FOIA only applies to public records held by federal agencies, all 50 states have passed similar legislation that applies to records held by state and local government bodies. This includes all Federal civil court cases, criminal charges, as well as bankruptcies.
Frequently asked questions
Although there is no fee for registering for PACER, using the service to access and view court documents is not free. In fact, they charge 10 cents per viewed. Yes, they are using a model stuck in the 20th century. The reason for this old-fashioned, expensive pay model is that Congress never applied the funds to make the database free to access, so the only way PACER can be supported and maintained is through charging user fees. s issued by a Federal agency are generally available in an online search.
Anybody who spent time after even just for an arrest without conviction in a federal facility, can be looked up at the BOJ inmate locator. The vast majority of public records about people are at the local level: city, county, and state.
Arrests are usually maintained by the county sheriff, or the local police agency that booked them. Exceptions to this occur when the arrest is made by the state police. Criminal records are usually public information that can be accessed via paid background checks, although certain states release limited criminal history information, only.
In addition to local law enforcement agencies, many states have a central repository for criminal history information that includes information on arrests, convictions, and more that occur in the state. However, the level of access granted to this information granted to civilians varies considerably: some states have a searchable online database of criminal history information, while others do not.
Usually, these websites require you to register to use them and charge a fee for each search, even if the search yields no .
If a person commits a sex-related crime, kidnapping, or a crime against a minor, they are typically required to register as a sex offender. All 50 states maintain a sex offender registries that can be searched online by members of the general public.
How to find a person in california
Typically, low-level offenders will not be listed in the online database, but those convicted of moderate or serious crimes will be. This information is usually maintained by the county clerk where the event happened. Whether birth certificates, marriage s, and death certificates are public information or not usually depends on the state. Marriage records and divorce records tend to be public, but birth and death certificates less than years old are usually only accessible by a select group of authorized persons due to the sensitive personal information they contain.
Are california marriage records public information?
For older records you may need to contact the state department of health, department of vital statistics, or even the state archives to get access. Ownership and deed information is usually maintained by the county assessor, and in many counties is searchable online. In some states, this information is private. First Name.
Criminal history information
Last Name. Which State? Start Searching.