The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants the public access to records held by federal agencies. This public records law also mandates exemptions such as information that could risk national security or data about an on-going investigation.
There is no central repository of public records. Depending on the nature of the information, these are managed by respective government agencies or public offices. Hence, public records requests must be coordinated accordingly – in person, through the mail, via phone call, or in some cases, using their online websites.
For a real-time and more convenient way of acquiring public records, you may opt to use a reliable and trustworthy third-party people search engine. They constantly request and coordinate with numerous resources to acquire up-to-date and accurate information. They will then store all the gathered details in a secure database. They basically centralize all possible beneficial public records.
8 Most Common Types of Public Records
As previously mentioned, public records can be requested from government agencies or can be acquired through private search engines. Below are the most commonly requested types of records which are used by employers, lessors, license issuers, and other interested parties.
Most national governments across the globe conduct a census at regular intervals. They use the data they gather in budgeting public funds, executing more relevant projects, and building mostly needed public facilities.
The Census usually includes household composition and family characteristics, including each member’s name, age, sex, and marital status. It also contains economic measures like occupation and income, geographical information like place of birth and duration of residence, or details of the living quarters and related facilities. All these are open for public access.
Vital records include birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce records. These documents are usually pre-requisite requirements in acquiring valid IDs, applying for licenses, filing legal documentation, and the similar.
Unlike the other data, vital records aren’t actually open for the general public. In most cases, only those legal parties or persons indicated in the records can request these.
Property tax, deeds, titles, as well as the details about the structure, land, or site, are included in property records. These are useful to interested buyers or lessees, brokers, and financial institutions. Property records are usually managed by the county assessors; hence, one might need to visit the local government office where the site is located.
Arrest and court records, unless specifically restricted by the legislature, are also available for public viewing. Though not proven guilty, some requestors like employers and lessors put weight on this information, affecting their hiring or renting decisions.
Arrest records contain documentation about suspected criminal activity that didn’t lead to a conviction. These records usually include current and recent arrests, litigation and hearings, warrants, fines, and mugshots. These also entail biographical details like age at the time of the arrest.
Convicted Crimes Records
With the exemption of expunged cases, these records contain all arrests that led to convictions. Criminal records greatly impact hiring decisions, especially by financial firms and health care institutions.
Included in these records are basic identifying information, distinguishing body markings, a list of all owned properties and known relatives, convicted state and federal crimes, and prisoner’s details like incarceration identification number and the facility where he’s held.
A misdemeanor is less severe than a felony and more serious than an infraction. This is usually included in a criminal history record, as well as in background checks.
It’s classified into four, depending on the gravity of the offense.
- Class A includes those with up to 12 months incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
- Class B includes crimes that require a $2,000 fine and 6-9 months of prison time.
- Class C includes misdemeanors that are punishable with up to 3 months incarceration and a $1,000 fine.
- Class D crimes require a fine up to $500 fine and up to a 1-month prison sentence.
- Some qualify as Unclassified misdemeanors. For example, littering and traffic-related charges.
Crimes with high seriousness such as treason, espionage, murder, rape, and the like are considered felonies. Felony records include felony arrests, felony charges, and felony convictions.
A felony arrest can disqualify a U.S. citizen from serving on a jury, and from participating in the electoral process. Private institutions also take these seriously. Child care facilities, for instance, usually don’t hire sex offenders.
Some states also include traffic violations on criminal background checks. These are usually classified as misdemeanors but can be specifically requested. These records could include online remediation classes taken, speeding tickets, at-fault collisions, suspensions, and criminal driving while intoxicated.
The types of public records that one requests and searches for depends on their situation. Thankfully, as you have read, state and federal agencies have made it easy for people to access, view, and request public records.