How to Find Your Public Records Online for Free!
Public records are by definition, records that are deemed necessary to be released by government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966. This FOIA requires all government agencies to maintain and make available specific types of records to the public, this won’t include private information like social security numbers or financial related documents The degree of availability of records differs depending on the state in which the record is located, some allow only the owners of these records to access them, while some allow anyone to access them.
What Information Can Be Found in Public Records?
The information available about a specific person differs on a case to case basis, but the ones that are usually of use to individuals are:
Criminal Records/Arrest Records- Criminal records are created by law enforcement agencies like the police or sheriff's office for the purpose of keep track of a person’s criminal past. These records usually include the reason for the arrest, if the person was convicted and a physical description of the subject which usually includes identifying marks, age, race, height, and height.
Vital Records- Vital records include four different types of records which are called vital records by the US government. They are; birth, death, marriage, and divorce records and certificates. Each of these records will usually include the place, date and time of these events as well as the full names of the people involved.
Contact Information- Contact information available from public records can vary as to what they contain. Most records of this type will be able to provide you with an address and a landline phone number as well as an email address and in unusual cases, a cell phone number. Some websites will take information from other data sources in addition to public records such as surveys, and magazine subscriptions in order to find the contact information of any individual.
Court Records- Court records are available on a federal, state, and county level and can include any records from Civil Courts which handle cases in which one person sues another as well as supreme courts and family courts.
How to Find Public Records Online for Free
Public records can almost always be located either online or in-person at the government agency that is responsible for those records. For example, a birth record can be found in the county office where the birth took place. However, you will need to know the exact details of where the event took place in order to find the correct agency. There are services that allow for blanket searches on all public records based on a name such as BeenVerified and GoLookUp, which charge a monthly fee. But if you are trying to locate public records online for free, these are the best sites to start with.
The National Archives of the United States hosts an astronomical amount of records ranging from immigration records to court records. This website is most convenient if you are looking for a record that is not so recent. Generally, records that are newer are not held by the National Archives and are still in the possession of the agency that is responsible for the records. You can locate records in the National Archives by running a search through their online catalog.
The FOIA is responsible for making all records public hosts a website in which you can run a search through all the public government records that are available online. You begin your search by going to the bottom of the home page and selecting from a drop-down menu which government agency’s records you want like to search. If the record you are looking for isn’t available online you can begin a process to request the record. This service is free if you can provide a reason why there should be a fee waiver.
The Justice Department website has a database of links that include both State and Federal court sources. You simply need to click on the state in which the record you are looking for is located and that will lead you to the various courts that exist in that area. There are two methods of locating the court, either through the interactive map on the website, or a text-based link resource. When you select the state in which the record is located, you will be forwarded to a hyperlinked list of courts in that area. This site is useful if you know what record you are looking for and the court in which it took place.
Center for Disease Control
The Center for Disease Control offers a free database that links all the relevant state offices you will need in order to access vital records. While the service is free, it will only provide you with the correct place to find these records which is useful if you are looking to acquire official vital records.
Search Systems is a family-owned business that has aggregated data from more than 70,000 different databases. The databases are sorted by type and location to assist in finding a property, criminal, court, birth, death, marriage, divorce records, licenses, deeds, mortgages, corporate records, business registration, and many other public records. This service is free but only allows you to search one city, county, or state at a time. This is a useful site to use if you know the general area in which the record you are looking for is located. You begin your search on Search Systems by inputting the method of your search, you can choose by record type, state, county, or city and then.
National Center for State Courts (NCSC)
The National Center for State Courts is a non-profit organization that was created in order to centralize court information to help with research and court improvement. While the organization was created to help court systems, it is also a useful site in order to access public records. The NCSC site has various web tools that can help individuals access case files, these tools include a database of links to state courts listed by the state in which they are located. In order to find the record, you are looking for you will first need to locate the court in which the record is located and then run a search on that court’s website.
Run a Public Records Search with GoLookUp!