Public Records Search

Search complete, up-to-date public records for criminal and court systems in the U.S.

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Find the information you need with a public records search

Public records searches can be used to find any publicly-available documents. There are many types of public records available in a variety of formats, including online records and paper documents stored at local government offices.

The number and variety of publicly-available records can make a public records search seem intimidating if you don’t know exactly how and where to look.

Fortunately, the resources available through this site can make your public records searches much easier and far more productive.

The most common types of public records are birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and other documents recording vital events in a person’s life.

These kinds of public records are often needed to apply for government identification cards, and they're also important for obtaining court records, performing genealogy research and more.

Other common public records are police records, jail records and prison records, court records, and other documents related to crime, criminals, and legal proceedings.

These public records are important for a wide array of reasons, including background checks, arrest warrant searches, and to obtain information needed for inmate searches and court sentencing purposes.

Another type of public records is the documentation produced by all government agencies made available to the general public.

These documents include budgets and other fiscal records, tax records, and details of government operations. These public records are important to maintain accountability and transparency regarding government spending.

Other public records involve U.S. contractors. These documents show details about accounting in business transactions between government agencies and private contractors, and they're usually kept for at least three years from the time of the final transaction.

There are also public records which have been declassified. After a certain period, various documents and files kept by U.S. intelligence agencies are declassified and made available to the public.

These public records may include memos, operations reports, and even training manuals, although in many cases these records are heavily redacted before their release.

And, the government also keeps public records about its employees.

This information doesn't include sensitive personal information but does show basic details about name, age, gender, and employment history of all government employees, except for certain employees of the State Department or intelligence agencies.

Why search public records?

Public records contain information that can be used for numerous purposes. Public records hold plenty of value for individuals as well as businesses.

Public records on birth, death, marriage and other life events are vital for identification as well as for future generations of genealogy researchers.

You may need your birth certificate to obtain a passport, or marriage records when you're going through a divorce settlement. Any state ID card, including a driver’s license, requires proof of citizenship.

And, in the future, your children may wish to research ancestors to learn more about them.

Public records on criminal activity help citizen,s as well as law enforcement professionals, maintain safety.

And, if you're an employer, you can discover a potential hire’s criminal history by performing a routine background check. It could keep your family safe and reduce liability for your company.

Likewise, if you meet someone online, you can search public records to discover if he or she has a history of theft or sexual assault. Former inmates should search their criminal records to make sure they're accurate.

Also, as with vital records, criminal files become part of a greater historical record that can be utilized by future genealogy researchers for positive purposes.

Whether they're court records or tax records, public records generated by the government hold the keys to greater transparency and accountability for everyone.

If you want to know how taxpayer money is spent, just look for public records that show budgets, taxes, and the results of government spending programs. It's all there in the public records if you know where to look.

Public records are also used by credit bureaus to assess credit risks and maintain accurate accounting for loans, debts, and bankruptcies.

This credit information is frequently used to determine whether you can finance a vehicle, obtain a new credit card, or buy a new home.

You can also comb through public records as a part of your genealogy research. Information about ancestors that’s kept in the public record, including immigrant records, helps you learn about family history.

What to keep in mind during a public record search

Before performing a public records search, it’s important to know which type of search is best.

Some records are kept by the federal government, some by state governments, and some by local county offices. The first step is to find out where to begin your search.

An online search is usually the best way to begin. Once you begin your public records search, just choose the best options that seem right for you. This site gives you access to the complete range of public records.

If you’re performing a public records search for certain government records, you may need to obtain permission through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Be sure to follow the instructions provided in the request form, and don’t be surprised if much of the information comes back in redacted form.

Not all public records are available. Criminal records may be sealed or expunged, and intelligence records may be classified or redacted.

When a marriage or divorce occurs, some couples may choose to keep their records sealed. In some cases, public records may also become lost or destroyed.

How to find the best public records search results

If you’re trying to maximize your public records search, the more information you start with, the better you'll do.

During criminal records searches, be aware of similar names that may yield ‘false positives.’

A false positive in your personal records can confuse employers during a background check, so it’s advisable to know beforehand if any exist and inform your employer should the public records search mistake occur.

By using the public search resources available through this site, you should be able to find what you're looking for quickly and easily, including criminal records, court records, and vital records of all kinds.

Things to keep in mind before a public record search

Before performing a public records search, it’s pertinent to know what category of search you’re requesting. Some records are kept by the federal government, some by state governments, and some by local county offices. Finding out where to begin your search is the first step.

An online search is usually the best way to begin. Typing in a basic question to Google, such as “where can I search for death certificates?” or “where can I find criminal records?” will often direct you to the right office or agency.

Once you know where to look, it’s important to gather all the right information needed to perform an accurate public records search. If you’re looking for criminal records, you will need to know the subject’s full name, location, and approximate date of incarceration.

If you’re performing a public records search for certain government records, you may need to obtain permission through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request. Be sure to closely follow the instructions provided in the request form, and don’t be surprised if much of the information comes back in redacted form.

Not all public records will be available. Criminal records may be sealed or expunged, and intelligence records may be classified or redacted. When a marriage occurs, some couples may choose to keep their records private. In some cases, public records may also become lost or destroyed.

How to filter public records search results

If you’re trying to maximize a public records search, the more information you possess the better. This not only helps narrow the search, but more detail is often required in the case of government public records searches, such as FOIA requests.

In the case of criminal records searches, be aware of similar names that may provide a ‘false positive’. A false positive can also confuse employers during a background check, so it’s advisable to know beforehand if any exist and inform your employer should the public records search mistake occur.