Alabama Background Checks & Public Records

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Alabama is situated in the south-eastern region of the United States and is also considered as part of the Gulf Coast Region. The country’s 30th largest state, area-wise, is bordered by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico. Automotive, finance, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, education, aerospace, management, and traditional agriculture make up Alabama’s economy. 

Alabama provides access to public records, so in the case that you find the background report you received as lacking, you may check with official state departments for more information. 

Counties in Alabama

AutaugaCleburneFayetteLowndesRussell
BaldwinCoffeeFranklinMaconShelby
BarbourColbertGenevaMadisonSt. Clair
BibbConecuhGreeneMarengoSumter
BlountCoosaHaleMarionTalladega
BullockCovingtonHenryMarshallTallopoosa
ButlerCrenshawHoustonMobileTuscaloosa
CalhounCullmanJacksonMonroeWalker
ChambersDaleJeffersonMontgomeryWashington
CherokeeDallasLamarMorganWilcox
ChiltonDeKalbLauderdalePettryWinston
ChoctawElmoreLawrencePickens
ClarkeEscambiaLeePike
ClayEtowahLimestoneRandolph

Alabama Public Records Laws 

The Alabama Public Records Law allows ‘citizens’ to access public records as explicitly stated in the law: “Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.” This is from the Code of Alabama § 36-12-40. 

The Open Meetings Act which replaced the “Sunshine Law” guarantees that every citizen of Alabama could have open access to agencies, boards, commissions as well as any governmental bodies that have something to do with the people’s business. This law, in all accounts, allows Alabama citizens wider access to the state and local government records. This law effectively lets you access any record information which you may need in performing a thorough background check. 

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records In Alabama

The Alabama Public Records Law does not dictate any single method or strict processes for requesting information. Furthermore, the law does not require the requestor to state an intent of use or a purpose for the public records being asked for. 

However, it is stated in the Code of Alabama 1975 that the authorized government agencies handling or managing such records are permitted to charge a reasonable fee for the requested information. For instance, the Secretary of State, who handles vital records such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce records, charges $1.00 per page for public records and $1.50 for the annexation of the state seal; $5.00 to $15 for any certificate with the annexation of the state seal or certified copy of vital documents.

Alabama is one of the few states to make public records available on its webpage, the Open Alabama website. This is, indeed, one efficient and effective way to access the information you need. 

Aside from obtaining electronically, you may as well opt to physically acquire the records from the respective bureaus or offices. You may do so in case the website is under maintenance or offline for some reason, or if specific reports are not allowed to be obtained electronically.

Vital Statistics Image Oriented Network (ViSION) is Alabama’s vital records system. You can walk-in and acquire vital records within 30 minutes, or you may request via snail mail. 

For Alabama criminal records, arrests and warrants, law violations history, tax and property Liens, sex offender registry, and the like, you may direct to the Supreme Court of Alabama, or to county-specific Alabama Courts. While for property appraisals and assessment records, parcel and tax records, GIS maps, real property information and tax rates, and similar, you should go to the County Tax Assessor’s Office.

Alabama has recorded births and deaths from 1908 to the present. Birth certificates are considered private records for 125 years after the date of birth, and the law requires proper identification of the requestor who must be indicated on the certificate as a relative, parent, legal guardian, or direct family member of the person stated in the birth certificate. While for death records, these become available to the public 25 years after the date of death.

For pre-employment screening, Alabama laws allow employers to use results from background checks 7 years and below; information beyond 7 years cannot and should not be taken against the applicant unless stated otherwise. 

Alabama Background Check Reports

If you want to conduct a background check 7 years back about a possible employee or business partner, you may get in touch with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency regarding the Alabama Background Check program. This is a great start in accomplishing your criminal background checks. The agency keeps track of all inquiries regarding criminal offender records and it must be said that misuse of acquired information and even misrepresentation of your purpose is subject to prosecution. 

If you are an Alabama-based employer or looking to employ an Alabama citizen, you are welcome to do background checks as long as it is within the limits of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and any applicable state employment laws. The State of Alabama even runs a secure website for qualifying employers, the Alabama Background Check (ABC) System. As dictated by law, employers must have written consent to conduct background checks.

Alabama Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About Alabama Background Checks

How long does a background check take in Alabama?

Alabama Name-Based State Checks take 5-10 days, and Alabama Fingerprint-Based State Checks take 10-15 days. In general, electronic background checks take 2-3 days to be completed.  

How much is a background check in Alabama?

The cost depends on the type of background check conducted in Alabama. Name-Based State Checks cost $25 and Fingerprint-Based State Checks cost $95. 

Are criminal records public in Alabama?

Criminal records are considered public records in Alabama. However, to obtain your criminal history, you must request a criminal background check with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. 

How long does a felony stay on your record in Alabama?

Felonies committed in Alabama cannot be expunged. Only non-felony or non-violent felonies under certain circumstances can be expunged.