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What are public records?
Like the name suggests, public record is a piece of information that can be used in identifying a particular person and one that is available to general public. It is unclassified information that is available to the general community. Public records can be of different types; what information is provided in a public record depends on the type of record.
For example, birth records give you information about a person’s name, parent’s name, birth information such as date, time and place etc. Court records give you information about a person’s court history.
What are the types of public records?
Public records can be broadly classified as individual public records and business/government public records. The following are some types of individual public records:
- Birth record
- Death record
- Arrest record
- Court record
- Criminal record
- County record
- Driving record
- Property record
- Sex offender record
What is a mugshot?
A mugshot informally refers to a police photograph or a booking photograph. This is usually taken when the suspect is brought into a police station for investigation. Mugshots allow law enforcement agencies to have a photographic record of a suspect for identification purposes.
Who can access public records?
Public records are available for everyone to view. Depending on the nature of record that you’re trying to access, certain restrictions may be imposed. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a national law that lays down the regulations for accessing public records. Each state may also have its own FOIA regulations that need to be adhered to while requesting public information.
How to access public records?
Public records can be accessed primarily in two ways. You could go to a local, state or federal government office or court office to get the public information. This option is free unless you do not need copies, however it is time consuming. The other option is to get the information online. There are many websites that allow you to search for public records of individuals with just the name of the person.
Most information is available online; some states and local courts restrict online access to criminal or civil data. A few online websites offer public records for free while most of them charge a nominal fee. No matter what option you choose, it is a good idea to verify the reliability of this information. Choose the one that is known to provide accurate information from authorized sources.