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Public Arrest Records and Other Public Records Are Available In Most U.S. States

For a full breakdown of public records availability in all states visit our Record Search Coverage Page.

Examples of Various, Interesting and Fun State Records Filed in a Few of Our 50 States

People make jokes about the amount of information that the government stores on citizens. With the advent of computers and the Internet, it is amazing to find out the different state records that are maintained and available. Federal and state mandate the records whether it be public arrest records or other variations, to keep who can legally access the information justifiably, and how an individual or agency can get copies of certain records.

Arizona, Alaska and Minnesota have online state records regarding record fish. Minnesota Fish and Game explains that it is a thrill to catch a big fish and indicates fishing skill. That state presents an award of recognition to anglers who break a state record during any year and lets the public know how to go about presenting the evidence. Some of the records are old, such as the 8 pound Smallmouth Bass caught in West Battle Lake in 1948. Sometimes there is a tie, such as the Rock Bass record at 2 pounds, one from Lake Winnibigoshish August 30, 2004 and the other from Osakis Lake May 10, 1998. Imagine the thrill of the angler who hauled in a 55.5-pound carp from Clearwater Lake on July 10, 1952. Catfish are a bit scary with those whiskers and teeth. The record is 38 pounds and a 44-inch long whopper of a fish from the Mississippi River.

Births and deaths are part of some state records, although counties often assume responsibility for recording the information and providing copies. The Nevada State Library and Archives does not keep death or birth records. Until 1887, when the Nevada State Legislature passed a vital statistics law, newspapers and baptismal records provided a recognized proof of birth in that state. Births and deaths from 1887 forward are recorded with the appropriate County Recorder or Health Officer. The State Office of Vital Statistics also has the records from 1911 forward. Marriage certificates are filed with the County Recorder where the marriage license was issued. Divorces are civil court actions and the County Clerk of each county has been responsible for keeping the data since 1862. The State Office of Vital Statistics also has marriage and divorce records from 1968 forward.

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State Records in Florida regarding the motor vehicle record (MVR) is a printable document listing details about each person’s driving history. Restrictions, violations, suspensions and other data appear on the MVR, identified by the Florida driver’s license number. State and Federal regulations provide that social security numbers, names and addresses are not displayed on the MVR.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database keeps the records and provides a copy to the individual upon request and payment of a small fee. That information is available to law enforcement agencies, the driver’s insurance company, courts, and employers that need to verify driver information. The state encourages drivers to review their record for accuracy. Florida state law regards driver license, motor vehicle and vehicular crash records subject to public disclosure.

The Driver Privacy Protection Act, 18 United States Code Sections 2721-2725 (DPPA) limits personal information released. Those who can access personal information on state records at Florida’s DMV include auto manufacturers recalling parts or vehicles, certain persons or organizations, private investigators or government agencies with reasonable cause, potential employers, someone you have given written permission to access the information, and insurance and towing companies.

State Records in Maryland operate under the premise that state government is open and the public has the right to access appropriate information and records held by the state. Federal and state laws recognize the need for individual privacy at the same time. When it comes to data from the Maryland Judiciary Case Search (MDJCS), several factors come in to play. Information available on all criminal, civil and traffic cases in Maryland includes case number, defendant name, city, state and date of birth, and the plaintiff’s name (civil trial only), trial date, charge and disposition. Information is only available for the length of time a county has had an automated case management system. Case information is updated at the end of a court day, or when entered in court records. Further action after a verdict, plea or judgment might not appear on records because of new case numbers or other circumstances. Send written notice of a dispute to the court of original record or filing.

State Records of Children Will Not Usually Include Their School Records, and is Usually Left Up to County or Local Jurisdiction.

State Superintendents of Schools or Education must comply with Federal laws regarding education. State records do not usually include the school records of children within the state, leaving that up to local or county school districts. The Family Educational rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. ยง 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) protects the privacy of student education records and applies to all schools receiving funds under certain US Department of Education programs. Parents have the right to inspect and review their child’s education records until the child reaches 18 or moves beyond high school.

At that point, the eligible student assumes the right. If there is a discrepancy, they can request an amendment and place a statement in the record if the amendment in case of a denial. Normally a parent or eligible student must give the school written permission to release information from the education record. FERPA, however, allows disclosure without consent to parties or agencies such as schools where the student is transferring, audit or evaluation purposes, parties in connection with financial aid to a student, accrediting organizations, compliance with a subpoena and juvenile authorities.

Schools can disclose “directory” information such as the name, telephone number, address, birthdate, awards and attendance dates without consent. There is a requirement to notify parents and eligible students annually about directory information and rights under FERPA. That notice can be in a student handbook, news article, bulletin or letter. Of all the above state records, none is as important as the safety of children. Sadly, disclosing vital information relies on the discretion of each school, providing minimal concern or protection for students in exchange for financial gain by the school.