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Ohio Public Records

Ohio public records, as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code 149.43A, encompass all records maintained by any public agency. This includes records from various entities such as school districts, townships, villages, cities, counties, and the state. The definition of a “record” in this context extends to any kind of document, and these documents can be requested in various formats, including both paper and electronic forms.

How to request Ohio Public Records?

Requesting public records in Ohio involves several steps that you can follow to ensure your request is processed efficiently:

Table of Contents

To request Ohio public records, follow these steps:

Where to find Public Records in Ohio

Here’s where you can find various public records in Ohio:

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

The Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ohio Department of Health maintains birth records from December 20, 1908, and death records from 1963 to present. You can order certificates through their system. Ohio Department of Health - Vital Statistics. For marriage and divorce records, you need to contact the county where the event was recorded, as these are maintained at the county level. Ohio Department of Health - Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Property Records:

Property records in Ohio are typically maintained by the county auditor's or county recorder's office. You can access these records online through platforms like Geauga REALink or directly at the county office.

Business Records:

Business records, including registered business names and other relevant data, are available through the Ohio Secretary of State's Business Search portal.

Court Records:

Public court records in Ohio can be accessed online through the case management system or the PACER system. This service requires either the name of the parties involved or the case number.

Driving Records:

Driving records, or abstracts of driving records, showing violations, convictions, accidents, and suspensions, are public records in Ohio. They can be requested online on DMV, by mail, or through public databases.

Professional Licenses

Professional licensure information in Ohio is available through the eLicense Ohio Professional Licensure System. This system allows for verification of individual or business licenses.

Ohio State Archives:

The Ohio History Connection, serving as the State Archives, preserves historical records of Ohio's legislative, executive, and judicial branches. These records are accessible for public research on Ohio History Connection - State Archives.

Are Ohio Public Records Available Online?

Yes, many Ohio public records are available online, offering a convenient way for individuals to access a wide range of information. This accessibility is governed by the Ohio Public Records Act, which mandates that records maintained by state and local government entities be made available to the public. Under this law, various types of records, such as court documents, property records, registered business information, and legislative records, can be accessed through official government websites.

Each state department or local government agency typically has its own portal or section within its website where these records can be searched and viewed. For instance, court records can be accessed through the websites of the respective courts, while property records are often available on the websites of county auditors or recorders. It’s important to note that while many records are available online, some may still require an in-person visit or a formal request, especially if they contain sensitive or confidential information.

State Public Records Law

The Ohio Revised Code 149.43A allows access to government records for public inspection and copying unless specifically exempted by statute.

Which records are public in Ohio

Which records are not public in Ohio

In Ohio, certain records are exempt from public disclosure under the Ohio Public Records Act. These exemptions include:

Ohio Background Checks

Ohio background checks are processes used to collect and review someone’s personal and public records. These checks are often used by employers, landlords, and others to assess an individual’s history and character.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal History

on any criminal convictions, arrests, and any ongoing criminal cases.

Employment History

Verification of past employment, including positions held and duration of employment.

Education Verification

Confirmation of degrees, diplomas, and educational institutions attended.

Credit History

A credit report to assess financial responsibility (mostly used for financial positions or tenancy applications).

Driving Records

Information about driving history, including traffic violations and accidents.

Professional Licenses

Verification of any professional licenses held.

Sex Offender Registry Check

Checking if the individual is listed on the sex offender registry.

Ohio Court Records

Overview of the Ohio court system and its Structure

The Ohio Court System is structured into three primary levels: the Supreme Court, the District Courts, and the Municipal Courts.

  1. Supreme Court of Ohio: The state’s highest court, it has the final authority on interpreting Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution. It hears appeals from the Courts of Appeals and has original jurisdiction in certain special cases.
  2. Courts of Appeals: Intermediate appellate courts which review cases from lower courts. Ohio is divided into 12 appellate districts.
  3. Common Pleas Courts: Trial courts with general jurisdiction, handling felony criminal cases, large civil cases, domestic relations cases, and probate matters. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a common pleas court.
  4. Municipal and County Courts: Handle misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic violations, and smaller civil cases. Some counties have a separate housing court.
  5. Mayor’s Courts: Local courts in some communities dealing with minor traffic and ordinance violations.
  6. Court of Claims of Ohio: Handles civil actions against the State of Ohio and its agencies.

Types of Ohio Court Records

Civil Court Records​

Criminal Court

Small Claims Records

Bankruptcy Filings

Probate Records

Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

In Ohio, public court records are generally accessible, but there are important restrictions and limitations to ensure privacy and legal integrity. Juvenile records are usually confidential, safeguarding minor’s privacy. Some records may be sealed by court order, making them inaccessible to the public; this often applies in sensitive cases or to protect identities. Additionally, records containing personal information like Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, or victims’ details in violent crimes are often redacted. Certain cases, such as those involving mental health issues, adoption, or child custody, may also have restricted access to preserve confidentiality. The state adheres to these guidelines to balance public access with individual privacy rights.

What do these records contain

Courts in Ohio

Ohio Public Vital Records

Marriage and Divorce Records: In Ohio, marriage and divorce records are managed at the county level. Certified copies of marriage licenses and divorce decrees can be obtained from the county where the event was recorded, specifically from the county probate court. Each county probate court in Ohio maintains its online contact pages and information for such requests. The Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ohio Department of Health also maintains downloadable reports about marriage and divorce records, providing statistical data from 1990 to the most current year available. This includes details like the total number of marriages, divorces, divorces with minor children, and the number of minor children affected. To acquire a divorce record, one can visit the Ohio Department of Health or the county clerk’s office in the county where the divorce occurred​​​​​​.

Birth and Death Records in Ohio: The Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ohio Department of Health operates a statewide system for the registration of births, deaths, fetal deaths, and other vital events. It maintains birth records from December 20, 1908, and death records from 1971 to present. In Ohio, which is an “open record” state, vital records like birth and death certificates are considered public records. Certified copies of these certificates can be issued for anyone born in the state of Ohio. The Bureau of Vital Statistics is the primary source for these records, and they provide a process for ordering these certificates, which includes an associated fee per certificate.

Ohio Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of Criminal Records in Ohio

Criminal records in Ohio are official documents that provide detailed information about an individual’s criminal history within the state. These records are compiled from various law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional facilities. They serve as a formal record of an individual’s interactions with the criminal justice system, including arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. These records are maintained primarily by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and are accessible to the public for various purposes, including background checks, employment screenings, and personal record reviews.

Information Included in Criminal Records

Ohio criminal records typically contain a range of information regarding an individual’s criminal activity. This includes:

  • Personal Identification: Full name, aliases, date of birth, and physical attributes like height, weight, and distinguishing marks or tattoos.
  • Arrest Records: Data regarding an individual’s arrests, including the date, location, and the agency making the arrest. It may also include the specific charges for which the individual was arrested.
  • Court Records: Information on court proceedings and outcomes related to the criminal charges, including trial data, court decisions, and any sentences or penalties imposed.
  • Incarceration Records: Details of any jail or prison time served, including the facility where the time was served, duration, and behavior records during incarceration.
  • Probation or Parole Details: If applicable, information regarding probation or parole, including the terms, duration, and compliance status.

Police Records and Reports

Ohio's police records and reports, including crash reports, criminal investigation reports, and local crime maps, can be obtained from various law enforcement agencies like the Ohio State Highway Patrol and city police departments. The Ohio Attorney General's Office also provides resources for finding specific officers' records.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records and reports in Ohio provide details such as name, photo, booking information, and charges. These are often available through county sheriff's offices and can be accessed online on Ohio Jail and Inmate Records Directory or in person.

DUI Records

Ohio maintains an Ohio Habitual Offender Registry for individuals convicted multiple times of driving under the influence. This database is accessible to the public for searching and identifying repeat DUI offenders.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Felony and misdemeanor records in Ohio can be found through various local courts. Each local court maintains its records and individuals must check every court in places they have lived or visited to get a complete criminal record.

Parole Records

The Ohio Adult Parole Authority, a section within the Division of Parole and Community Services, manages parole records in Ohio. These records pertain to adult felony offenders under supervision after being released from prison.

Probation Records

Probation records in Ohio can be accessed through various Ohio Courts responsible for probation supervision. The Ohio Public Records Act also guides the availability of these records.

Warrant Search

Ohio provides an eWarrants - Ohio system for the public to search for and access warrants and protection orders. This centralized system is web-based and covers all of Ohio.

Inmate And Jail Records

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction - Offender Search offers an Offender Search tool that provides information on current inmates, individuals under department supervision, or those judicially released.

What you can find

In Ohio inmate and jail records, you can find a variety of information pertaining to individuals who are currently incarcerated, as well as those who have been released from jail or prison. These records typically include:

  • Personal Identification: Information such as the inmate’s name, date of birth, physical characteristics, and photograph.
  • Incarceration Details: Specifics about the inmate’s current incarceration, including the facility where they are held, inmate number, and housing unit.
  • Criminal Offenses: Information about the offenses for which the inmate was convicted, including the nature of the crimes and the statutes violated.
  • Sentence Information: Details of the sentence imposed, such as the length of the sentence, any fines or restitution ordered, and the date of sentencing.
  • Release Information: If applicable, the expected or actual release date, along with any parole or post-release supervision details.
  • Custody Status: The current status of the inmate, which may include information on parole eligibility, security level, and behavior records within the facility.

How to Conduct an Inmate Lookup in Ohio

Conducting an inmate lookup in Ohio involves several steps to locate and access information about individuals who are currently incarcerated or have been in the past. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Website: Visit the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s Offender Search page. This tool allows you to search for inmates by name or offender number.
  • Search by Name or Offender Number: If you have the inmate’s full name, enter it into the search fields. If you know the offender number, you can use that for a more direct search.
  • Review Search Results: The search will return a list of inmates matching your query. Review the list to find the individual you are looking for. The results usually include the inmate’s name, offender number, current status, and location.
  • Access Detailed Information: Click on the name or offender number of the individual to access more detailed information. This may include the inmate’s offense, sentence, incarceration details, and projected release date.
  • Contact the Facility for More Information: If you need more detailed information or have specific questions, you may contact the facility where the inmate is housed. Contact information for Ohio correctional facilities can be found on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s website.
  • Check County Jails for Recent or Short-Term Inmates: If the individual is not found in the state system and may be in a local jail for a recent or minor offense, check the county jail’s inmate lookup tool. Most county jails in Ohio have online search tools or contact numbers to inquire about current inmates.

Juvenile Facilities:

Can I look up mugshots in Ohio?

Yes, you can look up mugshots in Ohio, as they are generally considered part of the public record. Mugshots can typically be accessed through the relevant law enforcement agency’s website or by making a public records request to the agency that processed the arrest. 

For individuals who have been convicted and are serving time in state prisons, mugshots can be found through the Ohio Offender Search, maintained by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The County Sheriff’s Offices and Local Police Departments also keep a record of mugshots in Ohio.

Ohio Arrest Records

Ohio arrest records are official documents detailing an individual’s arrest history within the state. These records typically contain the arrested individual’s personal information (like name, date of birth, and physical description), details of the arrest (including the date, location, and the law enforcement agency involved), the charges filed, and any subsequent legal actions related to the arrest, such as court dates or bail amounts. Arrest records do not necessarily indicate a conviction or guilt but simply record the instance of arrest.

What Do These Records Contain:

Here’s what Ohio arrest records generally include:

  • Personal Information: The full name of the arrested individual, along with their date of birth, physical description (height, weight, eye, and hair color), and sometimes their photograph (mugshot).
  • Arrest Details: Includes the date and location of the arrest, the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, and the specific charges or allegations leading to the arrest.
  • Mugshots and Fingerprints: Photographs taken at the time of booking and fingerprints recorded for identification purposes.
  • Case Information: Information about related court proceedings, such as court dates, specific charges filed, and information about legal representation.
  • Outcome of the Arrest: Details on how the case was resolved, including convictions, acquittals, dismissals, or ongoing case status.
  • Bail/Bond Information: Information regarding any bail or bond posted for the individual’s release pending trial.

Ohio Property and Asset Records Online

To find property and asset records in Ohio online, you can follow these steps:

  • Identify the Property Location: Know the county where the property is located, as property records are typically maintained at the county level.
  • Visit the County Auditor’s or Recorder’s Website: Each Ohio county has an auditor and/or recorder who maintains property records. Visit the website of the auditor or recorder in the relevant county.
  • Use the Online Search Tools: Most county websites provide online search tools where you can search for property records using the property address, owner’s name, or parcel number.
  • Review Property Information: The online records usually include details such as property ownership, valuation, tax information, property description, and history of transactions.
  • Check for Additional Asset Information: Some county websites may also provide information on personal property assets tied to businesses, like equipment or vehicles.
  • Download or Request Copies: If available, you can download digital copies of property records directly from the website. Otherwise, you may need to request physical copies, which might incur a fee.
  • Contact the County Office for Assistance: If you encounter difficulties or need more detailed records, contact the county auditor’s or recorder’s office directly for assistance.

Unclaimed Properties in Ohio

To find unclaimed properties in Ohio, you should start by visiting the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds website. This division is responsible for managing unclaimed property in the state, including funds from dormant bank accounts, forgotten rent or utility deposits, uncashed checks, undelivered stock certificates, and other financial assets. On their website, Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds, you can use the online search tool to look for unclaimed property by entering your name or the name of a business. If you find a property that you believe belongs to you, the website provides instructions on how to file a claim. The process typically involves filling out a claim form and providing proof of identity and, if necessary, proof of ownership. The division reviews claims and, if validated, returns the unclaimed property to its rightful owner.

Driving Records

In Ohio, driving records, also known as motor vehicle reports, document a driver’s history of traffic violations, accidents, license suspensions, and other driving-related information. These records are maintained by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and can be useful for various purposes, such as employment background checks, insurance inquiries, or personal record-keeping.

Civil Driving Infractions

In Ohio, civil driving infractions, often referred to as traffic violations or minor misdemeanors, are non-criminal offenses related to the rules of the road. Some common civil driving infractions include:

  • Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions.
  • Seat Belt Violations: Failure to wear a seat belt or failure to ensure passengers are properly restrained.
  • Traffic Signal Violations: Running red lights or stop signs, or failing to yield at appropriate signs or signals.
  • Improper Lane Changes: Making unsafe lane changes or failing to signal when changing lanes.
  • Failure to Maintain a Safe Distance: Following too closely behind another vehicle (tailgating).
  • Equipment Violations: Driving with faulty equipment, such as broken headlights, taillights, or turn signals.
  • Expired License Plate or Registration: Operating a vehicle with an expired license plate or without proper registration.
  • Parking Violations: Illegally parking in a prohibited area or in a way that obstructs traffic.
  • Texting or Using a Mobile Device While Driving: Texting or making calls without a hands-free device.
  • Window Tint Violations: Having window tint that is darker than what is legally allowed.

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

Address Search ​

In Ohio, an address search is a process used to find information about a specific property or location. This can be conducted through county property auditor websites, which allow you to search for property records using the property’s address. These records typically provide details about property ownership, valuation, tax information, and historical data on the property. Additionally, for business-related address searches, the Ohio Secretary of State’s website is a valuable resource. It offers information on registered businesses in the state, including their registered addresses and contact information. These tools are essential for real estate inquiries, property assessments, and various business-related research tasks.

People Search​

People search in Ohio involves utilizing available public records and online resources to locate information about individuals. This can include accessing voter registration databases, court records, and marriage or divorce records, which are all available to the public under Ohio’s public records law. Additionally, online directories and social media platforms can provide contact details and social profiles, aiding in locating or learning more about a person. In some cases, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles may also offer limited information, although this is subject to strict privacy laws and regulations. Such searches are useful for background checks, reconnecting with lost contacts, or genealogical research.

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

In Ohio, searching for an individual’s identity using their phone number is feasible through various online directories and reverse phone lookup services. However, these services may not always be connected to official state resources, and the accuracy and legality of the information obtained can vary. It’s important to use these services responsibly and in compliance with privacy laws.

How to Do a License Plate Lookup in Ohio

A license plate lookup in Ohio is generally restricted due to privacy concerns. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) does not provide an online public platform for license plate lookups. Such inquiries are typically limited to law enforcement and related governmental agencies. Private individuals seeking information about a vehicle owner via a license plate must have a permissible reason and may need to file a request through legal or law enforcement channels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

In Ohio, anyone can request public records. There is no requirement for the requester to be a resident of the state. This right is protected under Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, which stipulate that public records maintained by state and local government agencies should be accessible to the general public.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Yes, there may be fees associated with requesting public records in Ohio, especially when it comes to making copies of the records. These fees typically cover the cost of materials and labor involved in producing the copies. However, the fees are usually minimal and cannot be used to deter people from making requests.

Are public records Free to access?

Many public records in Ohio can be accessed for free, particularly when viewed online or inspected in person at the relevant agency. However, if you need physical copies or certified records, there may be a nominal fee to cover copying and certification costs.

What is the response time for public records requests?

Ohio law requires that public records requests be fulfilled in a “reasonable” amount of time. While no specific timeframe is mandated, agencies are expected to respond promptly. The exact response time can vary depending on the nature and volume of the records requested.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, a request for public records in Ohio can be rejected if the requested records fall under certain exemptions. These exemptions include records related to ongoing investigations, personal privacy, security, trade secrets, and other sensitive matters. If a request is denied, the public office is typically required to provide an explanation for the refusal.

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