Government Records

What are Government Records

Public government records are just that, public. There are few, if any, restrictions on the release of this information. For example, information from public records is frequently obtained by direct marketers. Public records may also be used by private investigators, attorneys, law enforcement officials and other government agencies. In fact, as more public records are computerized, anyone with a computer and a modem can easily compile detailed profiles on individuals.

Birth certificates are on file in the county in which the birth occurred and at the State Records office. Birth records usually contain the name of the child, date and time of birth, the city and the hospital in which the child was born, the parents' names, the attending physician's name and various signatures. Birth records housed in the State Vital Records Office are public and can be ordered by anyone with sufficient identifying information. 

Marriage certificates are usually filed in the County Clerk's office where the marriage application was filed and in the State Records office. An index is available to the public. It contains the bride and groom's names, the county where the application was filed and the date of the marriage.

Death certificates are also public documents. They are usually kept on file in the county in which the death occurred at the County Clerk's office. The State Registrar's office also maintains these files. An index of death certificates is available to the public. It contains the name of the person who died, where the death occurred, the date and the person's Social Security number.

Property records are open for public inspection. When you purchase a home or other real estate, a record of the transaction is made by the County Assessor's office and the County Recorder's office. The files maintained by the Assessor, Tax Collector and/or Recorder contain the location of the property, current owner's name, address and previous owners' names, dates of sale, description of the property and the approximate value of the real estate holding. These files are increasingly made available on the Internet by county government agencies and by information brokers.

Court records, unless they involve a juvenile, are usually public. Superior, municipal and small claims court records are kept in the court clerk's office. The court clerk maintains an index of civil and criminal cases which is filed in alphabetical order by the names of the parties involved. Case files can be retrieved under the name of either the plaintiff or the defendant. They contain the initial complaint, the defendant's answer and motions filed in the case. Case files may also contain evidence or exhibits that were used in court. Court cases are increasingly available on the Internet.

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