There are two types of public records in Arkansas;
1. Government records that are made open to the community, such as voters records, property tax records, crime data, inmate records, land records, and court records
2. Personal public records about major life happenings. These include birth, death, marriage, and divorce.
Arkansas State has one of the most complete and durable open records and open-meetings laws in the Country. Residence of the State can access public records with some exceptions defined in the law. There are thousands of documents available to the public, and it may become difficult to know how to access them. Therefore, it is essential to know which agency or government department holds the record you seek.
In Arkansas, interested persons must submit a record request and be a State resident to access public documents. A public record request may be sent via email, mail, by phone to the record-holding department or a physical visit on appointment with the department. Since every department is different, there are variations in the requirement to accessing public records; however public records request generally include:
- Name and Contact information (email, phone number, and mailing address)
- The title of the document you want access to
- A specific time for result delivery
- How you want it delivered, by email or mail
Accessing Vital Records in Arkansas
Vital records are those personal public records of significant life milestones like birth, death, marriage, and divorce that the State documents. When these events happen within Arkansas, a person is issued a certified copy of that record. If a person loses that certified copy and requires a new one, then the individual can request a new one. However, you should know that though vital records are public in Arkansas, the agencies do not release them quickly as other records.
To get a certified copy of vital records, you need to be listed on the document, be a family member or a legal representative. The Arkansas Department of Health handles requests for vital records in the State. Note that there are processing fees attached to obtaining certified copies.
To obtain vital records from the health department, contact the agency at:
Arkansas Department of Health
Vital Records Section, Slot 44
4815 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
Call: (501) 661-2336
The cost of getting certified copies of vital documents is as follows:
Birth: $12.00. Additional copies of the same record requested simultaneously cost $10.00 each.
Death: $10.00. Additional copies of the same information, when requested simultaneously, cost $8.00 each.
Marriage (State): $10.00. Additional copies of the same document requested together cost $10.00 each.
The cost of obtaining certified copies of marriage certificates at the county level varies from county to county. Interested persons can get a fully accredited copy of a marriage document from the County Clerk in the location where the license was issued originally.
Divorce (State): $10.00. Additional copies of the same record, when requested at the same time, cost $10.00.
Divorce (County): Varies. The Circuit or Chancery Clerk in the county of the divorce issues certified copies of marriage annulments.
Court Records in Arkansas
In Arkansas, people seek court records to find court minutes and case files. People also search for orders of courts, dockets, judgment documentation, jury records and files, witness documentation. Though court records are available to the community when requested, there are some exceptions and restrictions. The public does not have access to state tax records, medical and adoption records, identities of undercover law enforcement agents, or grand jury minutes. Clerks of courthouses are the custodian of court records. They make records available to interested persons in paper or electronic forms. So, you may begin your search by first determining the court that tried the particular case and then make your request from the court clerk.
You can also make your search easier by accessing records of cases heard at the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals from May 20, 2013, online using a modern case management system called CourtConnect. You may access public court records in Arkansas through a portal provided by the state courts. Interested individuals can access court information through CourtConnect by contacting the Administrative Office of the Courts at (501) 410-1900 or (866) 823-5778.
Criminal Records in Arkansas
Searching for criminal records on a person is the same as running a criminal background check. The Arkansas State Police, a subdivision of the State’s Department of Public Safety, maintains criminal records. There are two ways to run a background check through the Arkansas State Police:
1. You are allowed to conduct criminal history checks if you have a mandate by law to perform a background check
2. You are also permitted to run a background check on an individual if you have a signed authorization from the person you are investigating.
There are other ways you can run a criminal background check; however, performing a search through the Arkansas State police is your best bet. Typically, background checks are by name only. However, the Arkansas State police department connects all arrests based on fingerprints and not merely using the individual’s name. Kindly note that there may be uncertainties when a search is linked only by name.
It cost $25.00 to perform a manual background check and $22.00 for the electronic process with an additional $2.00 processing fee for the internet provider. Users of the service are to pay by money order or personal/business check. Note that the agency does not accept credit cards for manual transactions. You can easily carry out Criminal Background Checks through the state police. This service costs $22.00 per search. For criminal records, contact the state police at:
Arkansas State Police
One State Police Plaza Dr
Little Rock, AR 72209
Sex Offenders Registry in Arkansas
Sex offenders living within the State must register with the local law enforcement agency and submit to assessment by the Sex Offender Screening & Risk Assessment Program coordinated by the Arkansas Department of Correction. You can obtain detailed information on sex offenders at the Arkansas Crime Information Centre.
Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC)
322 S. Main Street, Ste. 615
Little Rock, AK 72201
Accessing Business Records
Business records in the State are maintained and released by the Arkansas Secretary of State. You can search for business entities in the State using the business entity search provided at the Arkansas Secretary of States website. Contact the Arkansas Secretary of State Business & Commercial Services (BSC) at:
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
Call: 888-223-0325 or 501-682-3409
In conclusion, whatever public documents you need access to are available to you if such records are unrestricted by law in the State. Government agencies are responsible for making public documents available have a mandate by law to respond to general requests. However, by requirement, you must follow due process and pay processing fees where necessary. Online platforms are also available, even though full access may be limited.