Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: Apr 20th, 2022
What Are Public Records, and How are they collected?
Public records involve data that the government has collected and preserved to allow public access and evaluation. In simpler terms, a public record is information that anybody in society has access to. It may include physical records such as papers, photos and maps or electronic records like CDs, DVDs and computer databases.
Nevertheless, the substance of the material determines whether or not it constitutes a public record and not how it is stored. There are no or few restrictions on the spread of public records, and there are people who collect such records from public sources. For instance, Private detectives, attorneys and other government bodies collect public records.
In addition, public records can now be accessed online, so there is an endless list of people who can obtain them. However, there are different types of public records. There are different provisions on how these records can be accessed or obtained. Here are some of the most common public records and how to collect them below:
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Births, Deaths, Divorces, Marriages
The information is usually kept in the county clerk's office where the event occurred. The state usually determines the availability of birth or death certificates and marriage licenses. While marriage and divorce records are generally open to the public, specific individuals can only access birth and death certificates. You may have to contact the health department, vital statistics or state archives.
You can generally access state criminal records through paid background checks. Still, some states only provide limited criminal history information. Many states withhold criminal history information that contains information on arrests, convictions and other events in the state.
Sex Offender Information
All 50 states have a registered sex offenders list that is open and can be accessed by any member of the public online. However, some low-level offenders may not be included in the list. Still, you will find the information of serious offenders. You can narrow your search to name, area, city or "non-compliant" or GPS location.
Real Estate and Property Records
Ownership and Deeds data is managed by the county assessor, and it is searchable online.
This is a state record. It can usually be obtained online at the Secretary of State's office of the state in particular.