Government Records South Carolina: How to Get Free Government Records in the State of South Carolina?
The Freedom of Information Act or FOIA in the state of South Carolina is a set of laws specifically designed to make sure that the government bodies’ public records in the state of South Carolina can be accessed by the general public. The definition of records in South Carolina constitutes all records, irrespective of their physical attributes, which were retained by, in possession of, used, owned, or prepared by a public entity in the state.
It is possible for any person to request the access of public records in South Carolina and the requestor does not have to furnish any statement of purpose. However, the FOIA of South Carolina has prohibited the access of police reports, employee details, and disabled persons for commercial reasons. The public body has to respond to such records requests within 15 days from the date of such a request.
Defining a public record
The Freedom of Information Act has laid down several provisions such as notice requirements and open meetings. According to the Act, the FOIA has clearly specified that public records can be procured by the public. To be more specific, the law mentions that public members can receive, copy, or inspect a non-exempt public record. The statute also comes up with an expansive definition of a public record as anything used, owned, or in the possession of, or prepared by a public entity.
Similarly, the Act also defines the public body quite elaborately and refers to a state board, department, agency, commission, city, country, school district, town, any special-purpose district. It can be also an agency, corporation, or organization in part or whole by public funds.
A person can send his/her requests to a public record in South Carolina via email, fax, or mail. However, ay information related to records for the Charleston Police Department has to be sent only via email. The act gives a time of 10 working days but excludes legal holidays and Saturdays and Sundays from this time period to respond to requests in writing and determines whether the requested record can be released or not.
According to the FOIA, the public bodies or the custodians of public records enjoy the privilege to collect and charge reasonable fees, which should not surpass the actual expenses of copying and searching documents.
- No fee is charged when records are copied and retrieved within 1 hour or even in lesser time.
- A fee of 0.10 USD per page is charged for B/W photocopies
- The requestor does not have to pay for copies of his/her desired records in case the total of requested pages is a maximum of 10 pages (B/W)
- A fee of 0.20 USD per page is charged for color photocopies. No fee is charged when the total of requested pages is a maximum of 10 pages
- A fee of 5 USD for each DVD or CD
- A charge of 12 USD each flash drive
- When the documents are oversized or large quantities of documents have been requested, they will be transferred to an external business to copy. The business will charge the requestor based on the actual dollar expense for the work
Thus, to summarize at the end:
- The law allows a response time of 15 days
- Both residents, as well as, non-residents of South Carolina can submit requests
- When a public entity fails to respond within the stipulated period, the request is deemed to be granted