County Public Records Information
The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 made it mandatory for US government agencies to make public all records that are not considered sensitive, deemed sealed by the court due to national security reasons, or involve juvenile offenders or victims. Thus you can easily access county public records like birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, certificates of adoption, real estate records, building permits, fishing and hunting licenses, occupational licenses, court case records, voter registration and vehicle tag registration information.
Accessing County Records
There are innumerable commercial web sites that house county public records, but it is always a good idea to acquire information from a government agency that is reliable and accurate.
When you are carrying out a county public records search, the county courthouse is the best place to visit. The courthouses store an immense volume of information about both individuals and locally listed business entities. In recent years much of this information has been posted on the official courthouse web site for all to access.
Most county courthouses in US contain several specialized records departments, responsible for maintaining, updating, and making accessible various kinds of county public records. For instance, the Bureau of Vital Statistics or the county recorder’s office maintains records of all births, deaths, marriages, and divorces within a particular county while the Department of Licensing holds, among others, fishing and hunting license records.
County court records also contain information on civil and criminal court cases. Usually, a Civil Index lists all civil actions and contains details about the judgment, lien, and the file number of the actual case. These records are categorized under dates and names of plaintiff and defendant to facilitate easy search.
County courthouses also house information on all civil cases where actions are valued below USD 1,500.
County court records involving criminal cases contain a comprehensive list of criminal convictions till the time they are expunged. The county court Criminal Index also lists on-going cases. County court criminal records also contain information about cases of misdemeanor that have occurred within the county.
You can access these county court civil and criminal records at the official web site of the court or by submitting a request at the court clerk’s office.
There are more pockets of information, other than the courthouse, when you can search county records. The county Sheriff’s office is a comprehensive source of information on arrest records, outstanding warrants, sexual offenders, and prison inmates. In US, many county Sheriff’s offices post this information on their official web sites. You may also visit the offices in person to submit your request.
The Department of Motor Vehicles in many counties house information on driving license records, drunk driving offenders, and parking violations. Most post this information on their web sites.
Reasons for Accessing County Public Records
A county public record search is required for many reasons—to conduct a background check on an individual or to check the information present in personal records. County public records are also presented as evidence in employee screening, child custody, tenant, and asset investigations.
Such is the importance of county public records, that most are forwarded to the state capital where they are stored permanently.
State-Specific County Public Records Information: