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Florida Public Records

How to request Florida Public Records?

The Florida Public Records Law, under Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes, defines public records as any materials made or received by an agency in the course of its official business, that are used to perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge. This includes information in any form, such as documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.

Table of Contents

If you're interested in accessing public records in Florida, it's vital to understand the process to ensure your request is processed efficiently. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Where to find Public Records in Florida

If you’re searching for public records in Florida, the location or platform you’ll need to approach varies based on the type of record you’re after. Here’s a breakdown:

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce):

You can request these from the Florida Division of Public Health's website. For detailed instructions and applications, visit their page on the Florida Health and Social Services site. Most requests can be processed online, by mail, or in-person at local county offices. Website.

Property Records:

These records are typically held at the County Recorder of Deeds' Office within the respective county where the property is located.

Business Records:

For business-related information, the Florida Division of Corporations is your primary source. Search for corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies registered in Florida at: Florida Division of Corporations.

Court Records:

Florida's Judicial Branch provides online access to court records, decisions, and more. Visit the Florida Courts website for information. Remember to approach the specific court where the case was filed for detailed records, as practices may vary between courts.

Driving Records:

Managed by the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), driving records can be requested online, by mail, or in-person. For more details, visit Florida DMV.

Professional Licenses:

To verify a professional's license in Florida, you can visit the Florida Division of Professional Regulation's website at: Florida Division of Professional Regulation.

Florida State Archives:

For historical records or older documents, the Florida Public Archives is a valuable resource. Check their offerings at Florida Public Archives.

Are Florida Public Records Available Online?

Absolutely, many Florida public records can be accessed online. The Florida Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ensures the public’s right to access information maintained by state and local government entities. While many departments provide online databases or portals for public record access, the extent of online availability can differ based on the department and the nature of the record.

State Public Records Law

The Florida Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) governs the availability of public records within Florida. Through FOIA, Florida emphasizes governmental transparency and accountability, allowing citizens access to public records. Here are the essential components of the Florida Freedom of Information Act:

Which records are public in Florida?

Which records are not public in Florida?

Here are types of records that are typically not publicly available in Florida:

Florida Background Checks

Background checks in Florida are detailed examinations designed to compile an individual’s historical records for various purposes. These could include evaluating suitability for employment, housing, or partnerships. Typical types of screenings in Florida may include criminal history checks, employment verification, educational qualification verification, credit reports, and reference checks. The scope of these checks can vary depending on the specific needs of the inquiry.

In Florida, background checks are governed by state laws as well as federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These regulations set the standards for how personal information can be collected, utilized, and disseminated during the background check process.

Compliance with these legal and ethical standards is vital. This usually involves obtaining explicit consent from the individuals being checked, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the data, and giving individuals the opportunity to review and dispute any inaccuracies found in their background reports.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal Records

This section typically encompasses state-level convictions, any incarceration, sexual offenses, and traffic violations. Florida law may also allow for the inclusion of federal criminal history.

Social Security/Citizenship Verification

Validating an individual's social security number and any aliases they might use is a standard part of background checks. Citizenship or legal residency status may also be verified.

Sex Offender Registry

In Florida, individuals convicted of sexual offenses are required to register, and this information is usually included in background checks.

Terrorism Watch List

After 9/11, a federal list of individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism was established. This information could be included in a background check if relevant.

Driving Records

If the role for which the background check is being conducted involves driving, driving records can be obtained from the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles. This may include information on DUIs or a history of reckless driving.

Education Transcripts

Given that people sometimes exaggerate or falsify their qualifications, verifying educational background can be essential. This can involve checking school transcripts to confirm academic performance and degrees earned.

Credit Report

Credit reports are often included in Florida background checks, particularly for roles that involve financial responsibilities.

Florida Court Records

Overview of the Florida Court System and Its Structure

The judicial system in Florida consists of a variety of courts that operate at different levels and handle various kinds of legal matters. Below is an outline of the structure of the Florida judiciary:

  • Florida Supreme Court: As the highest appellate court in Florida, this court hears appeals from lower courts and has the authority to interpret both state laws and the Florida Constitution.

  • Florida Superior Court: This court has general jurisdiction and handles a broad range of civil and criminal cases. It is the main trial court in Florida.

  • Florida Court of Chancery: This court is renowned for its expertise in corporate law. It primarily hears cases involving equity disputes, including issues related to corporate governance.

  • Florida Family Court: This court focuses exclusively on family matters such as divorce, child custody, and domestic violence cases.

  • Florida Court of Common Pleas: This court has limited jurisdiction and primarily deals with misdemeanors and lesser offenses, along with civil cases involving smaller monetary disputes.

  • Justice of the Peace Courts: These are courts of limited jurisdiction and usually handle cases such as traffic offenses and minor civil matters.

Each court in the Florida judicial system has its own set of rules and procedures, but all are governed by Florida laws and regulations. The primary objectives of the Florida judiciary are to resolve legal disputes fairly and effectively, ensure access to justice, and uphold the principles of due process and the rule of law.

Types of Florida Court Records

Civil Court Records​

Criminal Court

Family Court Records​

Probate Court Records​

Traffic Court Records​

Florida Court Records: Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

Florida law imposes specific limitations and confidentiality requirements on court records to protect sensitive information and ensure individual privacy.

  • Sealed Records: Records that are sealed due to containing confidential or sensitive information are not publicly available. A court order is generally required to unseal these records, and such an order is typically granted only for compelling reasons.
  • Juvenile Court Records: These are confidential in Florida and are accessible only to authorized individuals such as legal representatives, family members, and certain governmental agencies.
  • Mental Health and Probate Records: Records in cases dealing with mental health or probate matters are often restricted, requiring a court order for access to maintain privacy.
  • Trade Secrets and Proprietary Information: Records that include trade secrets or other sensitive business information may be redacted or sealed to prevent public access.
  • Data Security: Florida courts often employ redaction and other techniques to secure confidential data within records.

The management of court records in Florida is centralized and governed by state laws and regulations.

What do these records contain

Courts in Florida

There are five District Courts of Appeal in Florida, each serving a different region of the state.

Florida is divided into 20 judicial circuits, each having a Circuit Court.

Each of Florida’s 67 counties has its own County Court.

Florida Public Vital Records

Marriage and divorce records: In Florida, marriage certificates can generally be obtained from the Office of Vital Statistics in the Florida Division of Public Health. Divorce decrees are available from the Family Court in the county where the divorce was granted.

Birth and Death Records: The Florida Office of Vital Statistics serves as the central repository for all public vital records in the state, including birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.

In Florida, copies of vital records can be categorized as either certified or informational.

Certified vital records are those requested by the individual named on the record, immediate family members, or other legally authorized representatives, such as attorneys or government officials requiring the records for official purposes. These records can be used for legal procedures like establishing identity, applying for passports, or obtaining benefits.

Informational copies are similar to uncertified copies. They contain the same information as certified copies but are not suitable for legal purposes, marked to indicate their informational status.

Vital records can be requested in Florida via online platforms, mail, or in-person.

Birth certificates$25.00
Marriage certificates$25.00
Divorce certificates$25.00
Death certificates$25.00

Any additional copies for the above records is $10.00 each.

Florida Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of Criminal Records in Florida

Criminal records in Florida are official documents that detail a person’s criminal history within the state. They offer a comprehensive account of an individual’s interactions with the criminal justice system, including arrest records, court records, conviction records, sentencing information, and data on probation or parole.

Information contained in criminal records

  • Personal Identification Details: This includes the individual’s full name, aliases or nicknames, date of birth, and sometimes their residential address.
  • Arrest Records and Charges: These records detail specifics of the arrest, such as the date and location of the arrest, the law enforcement agency involved, and the specific charges filed against the individual.
  • Court Case Information and Outcomes: This section outlines legal proceedings related to the case, including the court’s name, case number, status, and key dates like arraignment, pretrial hearings, and trial outcomes.
  • Convictions and Sentencing Details: If convicted, this part of the record will specify the charges for which the individual was found guilty and details of the sentence, which could include fines, probation, community service, or imprisonment.
  • Probation or Parole Status: If under probation or parole, the record may include information about the conditions and terms of supervision.

Florida Police Records and Reports

Under the Florida Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), certain police records are available to the public upon request. However, some information, like victim data and details that may risk public or agency safety, may be withheld. Requests for police records can usually be made through the law enforcement agency that made the arrest or compiled the report.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records are created when an individual is arrested. These records include the person's name, date and time of arrest, charges, and other pertinent details. Generally, booking records are public in Florida and can be accessed via law enforcement agencies or certain online platforms depending on the jurisdiction.

DUI Records

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in Florida. Records related to DUI arrests and convictions are generally public and can be accessed through the Florida State Courts or the relevant county court. While some personal details might be restricted due to privacy laws, basic information is often accessible.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Records for felony and misdemeanor convictions can be obtained from the Florida State Courts. Felony records are usually stored in Superior Court, while misdemeanor records are typically found in the Court of Common Pleas or Justice of the Peace Courts. If the individual is incarcerated, the Florida Department of Correction provides an online inmate locator tool that can yield additional information.

Parole Records

Parole records can be requested from the Florida Board of Parole or through the Florida Department of Correction. These records include details about the terms of parole, interactions with parole officers, and progress reports.

Probation Records

Probation records in Florida can be obtained from the Department of Correction or the specific court that handled the case, usually the Superior Court for felonies or the Court of Common Pleas for misdemeanors. Like parole records, they include information on the terms of the probation, reports from probation officers, and compliance updates.

Warrant Search

In Florida, active warrants are generally not considered public information due to privacy concerns. Active warrants may be restricted to law enforcement use to prevent compromising ongoing investigations or infringing on an individual's privacy rights. However, executed warrants that result in an arrest become a part of the public record and can be accessed through various means, such as the Florida Department of Correction's website or through local law enforcement agencies.

Inmate And Jail Records

The Florida Department of Correction maintains an online inmate locator tool that allows for searches based on several criteria such as the inmate's name, last known location, or unique identification number. This tool provides a convenient way to find information about inmates in Florida correctional facilities, and it is generally accessible to the public for free.

Florida Inmate Lookup

When conducting an inmate lookup in Florida, you can expect to find the following information:

  • Inmate Location and Facility Details:The search will provide details about the correctional facility where the inmate is located, including its name, address, and contact information.
  • Booking Information and Charges: You will be able to see information related to the inmate’s initial booking, such as the booking date, booking number, and the charges filed against them.
  • Sentence Length and Release Dates: The lookup tool will offer details about the length of the inmate’s sentence, starting from the date of commencement to the projected release date, helping you understand their period of incarceration.
  • Parole Eligibility and Parole Board Decisions:Some systems may also offer information regarding the inmate’s eligibility for parole, as well as outcomes from parole board hearings and any conditions imposed.

How to Conduct an Inmate Lookup in Florida

In Florida, you can use the Department of Correction’s Inmate Locator to find inmate information. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Visit the Florida Department of Correction’s Inmate Locator Website: This website serves as the central hub for inmate information in the state.
  • Provide the Inmate’s Details: The locator typically requires the inmate’s name or unique identification number. Enter the details you have.
  • Submit the Lookup: After entering the information, proceed to perform the search.
  • Review the Details: If the inmate is in the system, their details will be displayed, including location, admission date, and potential parole eligibility.

Jails & Prisons in Florida

State Prisons:

County Jails:

Can I look up mugshots in Florida?

In the state of Florida, public access to criminal records, including mugshots, is governed by the Florida Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Generally, arrest records and mugshots are considered public records and can be accessed through government resources such as the Florida State Police or the Department of Correction website. These databases provide information about individuals who have been arrested or are currently in custody. However, some limitations may apply to juvenile records or cases still under investigation.

Florida Arrest Records

Arrest records in Florida are official documents that detail an individual’s history of arrests within the state. These records are designed to offer a comprehensive account of a person’s interactions with law enforcement, thereby fostering transparency and accountability.

What Do These Records Contain:

Typically, Florida arrest records contain the following information:

  • Personal Identification Details: Like in many other states, Florida’s arrest records include personal details about the individual, such as their full name, aliases, date of birth, and sometimes their address.
  • Arrest Details: The records also offer information on the arrest itself, which often includes the date, time, and location of the arrest, the agency that made the arrest, the name of the arresting officer, and the charges filed against the individual.
  • Booking Information: Details about the booking process may also be available. This can include fingerprints, mugshots, and other types of identifying information collected during the booking.
  • Charges and Criminal Offenses: Florida arrest records will typically outline the specific charges or criminal offenses for which the individual was arrested, detailing the nature of the offense and any applicable Florida penal code sections or statutes.
  • Court Case Data: Depending on how far along the criminal proceedings are, the arrest records might offer some information about the subsequent court case. This could include the name of the court, the case number, and other pertinent details about the case.

Florida Property and Asset Records Online

Unclaimed property in the state of Florida can usually be checked through the Florida Division of Revenue’s Unclaimed Property website. Unclaimed property typically includes financial assets such as checks, stocks, or safe deposit boxes that have been dormant for a certain period.

Here’s how you can generally go about checking for unclaimed property in Florida:

  • Online Search: Visit the Florida Division of Revenue’s Unclaimed Property website. They usually have a search feature that allows you to search for unclaimed property by entering your name or the name of your business.
  • Submit a Claim: If you find property that belongs to you, you’ll usually need to provide additional identification or documentation to claim it. This could include providing a Social Security number, a utility bill, or other forms of ID.
  • Receive Property: Once your claim is processed and approved, you’ll receive the unclaimed property, either in the form of a check or the actual property itself.
  • Contact for Assistance: If you have difficulty using the online service or have questions, the Division of Revenue often provides contact information, such as a phone number or email, for further assistance.

Driving Records

In Florida, traffic offenses are categorized into traffic violations and traffic crimes. Traffic violations are less severe and may result in fines and points against your driving record but generally do not carry the risk of imprisonment. Traffic crimes, on the other hand, are more serious offenses like DUI and can result in imprisonment.

Florida operates on a point system for driving offenses. Accumulating too many points in a given time frame may result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

Civil Driving Infractions

Common Civil Driving Infractions in Florida include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in Florida is considered a criminal offense. Penalties for DUI may include fines, mandatory participation in an alcohol education program, and imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense and prior history.

Florida White Pages - Access to People, Addresses, and Other Non-Official Information

Address Search 

According to Florida’s Freedom of Information Act, property addresses and ownership information are considered public records, and thus are generally accessible to anyone. However, usage restrictions may apply, particularly when it comes to the sharing or use of this information for unauthorized purposes. These records are usually under the jurisdiction of the county recorder of deeds and can be searched by name, address, or parcel number.

People Search​

People searches in Florida can be conducted through various online databases, including public records websites. These platforms typically offer information like full names, addresses, and phone numbers. While comprehensive, these databases are subject to Florida’s privacy laws, and certain restrictions may apply to the use of this information.

Can I Search By a Phone Number and Identify The Owner?

Yes, reverse phone lookups can be conducted in Florida to identify the owner of a specific phone number. These services can provide various details such as names, addresses, and sometimes additional information like social media profiles. There are several ways to conduct a reverse phone lookup in Florida, including searching by name, address, or related information.

How to Do a License Plate Lookup in Florida

Florida law restricts public access to driver information based on license plate numbers. Such lookups are generally permitted only for specific reasons, such as by law enforcement or insurance companies.

If you are a victim of a crime involving a vehicle and you have the license plate number, you should report this information to local law enforcement. While the authorities can conduct a license plate lookup to aid in their investigation, this information is not typically disclosed to the general public or the victim.

For general inquiries about a vehicle’s history, you can use third-party services to get a Vehicle History Report. Such services use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to provide details about the vehicle, including any safety recalls, significant repairs, or sales information. However, these reports will not typically provide information about the vehicle’s current or past owners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

In Florida, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants the public the right to access governmental records. This encompasses a broad range of individuals and entities, including Florida residents, journalists, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and researchers. The objective behind permitting public records requests is to foster transparency, openness, and accountability in government operations.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Yes, there can be fees associated with requesting public records in Florida. Government agencies are allowed to charge fees to cover the administrative costs of copying and producing the requested records. The fees can vary depending on the specific agency and the nature of the request.

Can I access public records for free?

Some public records in Florida may be freely accessible online through various government websites. For example, some court records, legislative documents, and other types of public information may be available without any charge. However, for specific records not readily available online, you may need to submit a formal FOIA request, which could involve fees to cover administrative costs.

What is the response time for public records requests?

Under Florida’s FOIA, government agencies generally have 15 business days to respond to a public records request. However, this timeframe can vary depending on the complexity of the request or the volume of records sought. If more time is needed, agencies must provide an explanation and an expected timeframe for the completion of the request.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, a public records request can be denied in Florida for various reasons. Government agencies may refuse a request if the records sought are exempt from public disclosure under Florida law.

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