What Are Public Records?
Public records are documents or other types of information kept by government agencies. In many cases, government offices are required to keep and maintain copies of certain records, such as death certificates, birth certificates, marriage records, or divorce records. Because of the Freedom of Information Act, public records are available to anyone who requests to see them.
Although you might not have much experience with public records, these documents are extremely common, and are helpful for people researching things like legal matters, genealogy, or marriage certificates.
- Court dockets
- Census records and data
- Criminal records
- Professional and business licenses
- Sex offender databases
- Voter registration
- Birth certificates
- Real estate appraisal records
- Residential addresses
How Much Does it Cost to View Public Records?
Many public records are available to the general population at no charge. The following public records are usually free of cost:
- Property information
- Census data
- Criminal records
- Bankruptcy information
- Tax liens
- Court records
However, getting this information in a timely manner and in one place can be difficult. In many cases, there is a fee to view public records at a public records office, courthouse, or local government office. This fee is usually associated with printing or copying the record, although some states may charge an additional fee to view the records.
To help you find all the information you need, CheckPeople offers unlimited searches of online public records for a low monthly fee. Our online public records are collected from a variety of sources, allowing you to get all the information you need affordably and with just a few clicks.
Can I View Marriage and Divorce Records?
There are some life events that are recorded by the state and always available for public viewing. These can include birth certificates, death certificates, and other documents. Because marriage and divorce records are used for census data, they are usually available to the public. However, there may be some instances where divorce records are sealed and unavailable.
Are Court and Criminal Records Public?
Most court and criminal records are available to the public after the case has closed. Some exceptions may apply if the case is particularly notorious or has generated a lot of press coverage. But generally, following documents and records are available to anyone who wants to view them:
- Case dockets
- Court case summaries
- Courtroom proceeding summaries
The public also has access to records about those accused of crimes in these court cases. Criminal records usually detail a defendant's warrants for arrest or prior convictions. However, if any convictions were overturned, they will not be listed on the criminal record.