This law also applies to any private organization that performs public functions funded by taxpayers’ money.
However, the public availability of records is not absolute. Under circumstances where disclosing the information in a document constitutes an unnecessary intrusion of privacy, state laws direct record custodians to restrict public access. Where state laws do not direct a restriction, the individual whose record is public may petition the court to remove the document from the public domain. However, this is seldom the case, and most public records are available to you upon request. You have to know where and how to get the records.
Looking for Criminal Records in Arizona
You may get criminal records from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Arizona criminal records are documents that detail every time a person has had a run-in with the police or other criminal justice agencies in Arizona. Such run-ins may be an arrest for being a suspect in a crime. But a criminal record typically details every time a person has been indicted, prosecuted, and incarcerated in Arizona. For that reason, criminal records are also called rap sheets, i.e., Records of Arrests and Prosecutions.
Remember records that state laws generally restrict from unauthorized public access? Criminal records from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) are one of such records. Thus, companies completing an employee’s background check and residents reviewing their criminal records or attorney for any authorized entity may request a criminal record. If you are interested in getting your criminal record in Arizona, follow these instructions by the DPS. Generally, you will need to:
Get a complete set of legible rolled fingerprints.
Provide personal identifying information, including name, date of birth, social security number, and physical description (see the complete checklist of required information).
Complete the contact information sheet
Mail the required documents to:
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Criminal History Records Unit
PO Box 18450
Phoenix, AZ 85005-8450
You can expect to get your criminal records within two (2) to three (3) weeks if your application is complete and correct. If you cannot wait that long, you may get the criminal records online from an independent service provider instead.
Getting Court Records
You can get case records from the Arizona Judiciary. All trial and appellate courts in Arizona must maintain records of everything that happens within a courtroom and when the persons involved in the case submit documents. These include original copies of petitions, responses, notes, audio or video recordings, court transcripts, affidavits, and statements.
Interested persons seeking to get copies of case records must:
- Identify the trial court (usually where the defendant residents or where the incident happened)
- Visit or schedule a visit to the Clerk’s office.
- Provide the name of the litigants and the presiding judge or the case number of the case of interest
Upon receiving the necessary information to perform a search, the administrative staff shall look for the case file. You may view the case documents under supervision, but you must pay for copies of specific documents or the entire court record if you want a copy for yourself.
Another way to get court records is to search online. The judiciary maintains case information on the Public Access to Court Information portal. The online option is more flexible. It allows you to use several parameters such as name and court of trial. You can also use the more specific case number as a search parameter. However, only basic case history is available via this means. If you are interested in getting court documents remotely, you must create an account on the eAccess portal. After this, you may pay a one-time fee of $10.00 to access case documents or choose one of six monthly subscription plans.
What About Inmate Records?
These public records are available at the local jail or the Department of Corrections, depending on where the offender is serving time. Persons convicted of misdemeanors generally serve time in county jails. You can get such inmate records by contacting the jail administrative staff – usually the Sheriff’s department. On the other hand, persons convicted of felonies typically serve their sentence in state prison. These correctional facilities are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, which maintains an inmate search portal.
You need the inmate’s full name to perform a search and get available information on them. However, a name-based search is likely to return multiple results, which you must sort through. You can avoid this by being more specific with your search – use the inmate number instead if known.
A search will return the inmate’s personal information, physical description, and recent photograph. You will also have access to the inmate’s sentence history, parole eligibility and history, and the inmate’s activities in prison. If you use the toggle bar on the search result page, you can print out inmate records for free. If the information from the search does not satisfy your needs, you may submit a public records request to the Department of Corrections. However, this service comes at a cost.
Find Marriage, Divorce, and Vital Records in Arizona
The Bureau of Vital Records has custody of vital records in Arizona. These include birth, marriage, divorce, and death records, which happened within the state’s jurisdiction. If you need any vital record, you may walk into your local county’s health department. But not everyone has the time to wait at a government building.
These persons can choose to send a mail request or order copies of the vital records online. However, note that mail availability varies with the county. Visit your county’s official website to find the location of the county department of health. A simple web search using the keyword “[xyz] county Arizona official website” will help.
If you prefer to directly contact the Department of Health for your marriage, divorce, birth, and death records, then:
- Download and complete the official request form per record sought
- Attach a valid government-issued photo ID to verify your eligibility to request the record
- Attach payment in the form of cashier’s checks, money orders, and credit cards.
- Enclose all documents in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail them out to:
Bureau of Vital Records
1818 West Adams
PO Box 6018
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: (602) 364-1300
Finding Bankruptcy Records
Bankruptcy records in Arizona are available at the US District Bankruptcy Court. Interested persons can find the courthouse where the debtor filed the petition and submit a request at the Clerk’s office. Alternatively, they may get Arizona bankruptcy records online. Either way, access to bankruptcy case documents costs $0.10 per page.
Business Records In Arizona
The Arizona Secretary of State maintains a centralized database for business records in Arizona. These include documents related to the Uniform Commercial Code, trademarks, and partnerships. The secretary’s office has public records request policy and protocol you must follow.