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Tennessee Public Records

According to the Tennessee Public Records Act, all government records are accessible for public examination during standard business hours, except for those specifically exempted. This includes public records in various forms like documents, tapes, maps, photographs, and any data stored in different formats, which are open for both viewing and copying. 

How to request Tennessee Public Records?

In Tennessee, there isn’t a single, centralized location for public records; instead, each government entity, county, or city is responsible for the upkeep and management of its own records.

Table of Contents

To request public records in Tennessee, follow these steps:

Where to find Public Records in Tennessee

Depending on the type of record you are seeking, there are numerous options for where you can find public records in Tennessee.

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

These records are available from the Tennessee Department of Health, where you can request copies of birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates.

Property Records:

Property records in Tennessee can be accessed through individual county assessor's offices, where each county maintains its own records of property ownership and valuation.

Business Records:

Business records, including registrations and filings, are maintained by the Tennessee Secretary of State's Division of Business Services, which offers an online search for business entities.

Court Records:

Court records in Tennessee are available through the Tennessee State Courts, where you can find information on various court cases and legal filings.

Driving Records:

Driving records, or motor vehicle records, can be requested from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, which provides driver history reports.

Professional Licenses

Information on professional licenses in Tennessee, including license verification, is available through the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, which regulates various professions and businesses.

Tennessee State Archives:

Historical records, including archives of historical significance, can be found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which offers a range of resources for research and education.

Are Tennessee Public Records Available Online?

Yes. Numerous online resources are available for accessing public records in Tennessee.

Criminal records can be searched by name or case number through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s central repository. The Tennessee Office of Vital Records provides an online system for ordering birth, death, and marriage records.

Additionally, many counties in Tennessee offer online access to public information, including property records, deeds, and genealogical records.

State Public Records Law

The Tennessee Public Records Act governs the public’s access to state public records in Tennessee. Here are some key aspects of the Tennessee Public Records Act:

Which records are public in Tennessee?

Which Records are Not Public in Tennessee?

While many records in Tennessee are accessible to the public, certain records are not publicly accessible due to privacy or legal concerns.

Here are some examples of records that are typically not considered public in Tennessee:

Tennessee Background Checks

Tennessee background checks are processes used to verify an individual’s history and are often conducted for employment, housing, or other purposes where a person’s background is relevant.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal History

This includes records of arrests, convictions, and any criminal history. It's one of the most common elements in a background check.

Employment History

Verification of an individual's past employment, including positions held, duration of employment, and reasons for leaving.

Education Verification

Confirmation of educational qualifications, such as degrees obtained and institutions attended.

Credit History

Credit reports may be included, which show an individual's credit history, creditworthiness, and financial responsibility. This is more common in background checks for financial positions or housing applications.

Driving Records

For roles that involve driving, a background check may include the individual's driving history, including any traffic violations or accidents.

Civil Records

This can include records of civil litigation, such as lawsuits, bankruptcies, and any legal actions involving the individual in civil courts.

Professional Licenses

Verification of any professional licenses the individual holds, ensuring they are valid and in good standing.

Sex Offender Registry Check

Checking whether the individual is listed on state or national sex offender registries, especially important in roles involving vulnerable populations.

Drug Testing Results

Some employers include drug screening as part of the background check process.

Reference Checks

Contacting personal or professional references provided by the individual to gather more information about their character and past performance.

Tennessee Court Records

Overview of the Tennessee court system and its Structure

The Tennessee court system is structured in a tiered manner, providing a comprehensive judiciary framework for the state. Here’s an overview of its structure:

  • Supreme Court: At the top is the Tennessee Supreme Court, the state’s highest court. It has the final appellate authority over all legal matters in the state, including civil and criminal cases. The Supreme Court also oversees the practice of law in Tennessee and has five justices.
  • Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals: Below the Supreme Court are the intermediate appellate courts. The Court of Appeals handles civil matters, while the Court of Criminal Appeals deals with criminal cases. These courts review cases from the lower courts and provide decisions on legal and factual disputes.
  • Trial Courts: The primary level of the court system consists of several types of trial courts:
    • Chancery Courts: These courts handle matters of equity, like divorces, adoptions, property disputes, and probate.
    • Circuit Courts: Circuit courts are general jurisdiction trial courts, handling a wide range of criminal and civil cases.
    • Criminal Courts: Established in some counties, these courts specifically deal with criminal cases.
    • Probate Courts: In certain counties, separate probate courts handle wills, estates, and conservatorships.
    • Juvenile Courts: These courts address matters involving minors, such as delinquency, child support, and custody issues.
    • General Sessions Courts: These courts have limited jurisdiction and handle minor civil and criminal cases, small claims, and preliminary hearings.
  • Local and Municipal Courts: At the local level, various municipal courts are dealing with city ordinance violations and minor criminal offenses.
  • Specialized Courts: Tennessee also has specialized courts like Drug Courts and Veterans Courts that focus on rehabilitation and specific issues.

Each level of the Tennessee court system plays a distinct role, ensuring that matters of law are appropriately heard, adjudicated, and, if necessary, reviewed by higher authorities. The system is designed to provide an efficient, fair, and accessible judiciary to all residents of Tennessee.

Types of Tennessee Court Records

Tennessee Civil and Small Claims Records

Tennessee Criminal Records

Tennessee Family Records

Tennessee Probate Records

Tennessee Traffic Records

Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

In Tennessee, court records are predominantly public but are subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and confidentiality to safeguard privacy and sensitive information.

Personal data, such as social security numbers, contact details, and financial account numbers, are often redacted or restricted in these records to protect individual privacy. Juvenile records are generally confidential and not accessible to the public, a measure taken to protect the privacy of minors involved in legal proceedings.

Additionally, records pertaining to sensitive cases like adoption, child custody, and certain family law matters may be sealed or have restricted access. In criminal cases, details of ongoing investigations or sealed indictments are also not publicly accessible.

Furthermore, the courts may restrict access to records in cases involving victims of certain crimes, like sexual assault or domestic violence, to protect their identities and personal safety. This framework of confidentiality and limitation ensures a balance between public access to court proceedings and the protection of individual rights and sensitive information.

What do these records contain

Courts in Tennessee

Tennessee Public Vital Records

Marriage and Divorce Records: Marriage and divorce records in Tennessee are vital records managed by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. These records include details such as the names of the individuals involved, dates of the marriage or divorce, and the county where the event was registered. Marriage and divorce records can be used for legal purposes, genealogical research, or personal documentation. To access these records, individuals can request them online or in person through the Tennessee Office of Vital Records.

Birth and Death Records: Birth and death records in Tennessee are also maintained by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. These records provide crucial information like the date and place of birth or death, parent’s names for birth records, and cause of death in death records. These records are essential for personal identification, legal processes, or genealogical research. Individuals seeking to obtain birth or death records can do so through the Tennessee Office of Vital Records website, with options for online or in-person requests.

Tennessee Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of criminal records in Tennessee

Tennessee criminal records, also known as rap sheets, are official documents detailing an individual’s criminal history within the state. These records are compiled from various sources, including police departments, sheriff’s offices, and courts, and contain several key pieces of information:

  • Personal Identification: The record typically includes the individual’s name, date of birth, physical descriptors (like height, weight, and distinguishing marks or tattoos), and sometimes a photograph or mugshot.
  • Arrest Records: Information about arrests, including the date of arrest, arresting agency, charges filed, and the location of the incident. It may also include details about the circumstances leading to the arrest.
  • Court Records: Details of court proceedings related to the criminal charges, such as court dates, charges and counts, plea details, and information about the judgment, including convictions, acquittals, or dismissals.
  • Incarceration Records: If the individual was incarcerated, the record will include details about the incarceration, such as the facility where they were held, duration of incarceration, and release date.
  • Probation or Parole Information: For individuals sentenced to probation or parole, the record includes terms of the probation or parole, duration, and information about any probation or parole violations.
  • Outstanding Warrants: Information about any outstanding warrants issued against the individual.

Tennessee criminal records are used for various purposes, including background checks, employment screenings, and legal proceedings. These records can be accessed through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which maintains a central repository of criminal history information. Requests for criminal records can be made via the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s website, where individuals or authorized entities can conduct name-based checks.

Police Records and Reports

Police records and reports in Tennessee document various interactions with law enforcement, including incident reports, accident reports, and investigative notes. These records provide details about alleged crimes, police responses, and witness statements. They are crucial for legal proceedings, insurance claims, and personal records. Individuals can request these records from the specific police department involved in the incident or through online portals like the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records in Tennessee include details from when an individual is booked into jail, such as their personal information, mugshot, and the charges against them. These records are maintained by the local law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Booking reports are often used in criminal investigations and legal proceedings. Access to these records can typically be obtained through the respective county sheriff's office or county jail's website.

DUI Records

DUI records in Tennessee contain information about arrests and convictions for driving under the influence. These records include the date of the offense, blood alcohol content, and details about any related court proceedings or penalties. DUI records are utilized in legal cases, driver's license reinstatements, and background checks. They can be accessed through the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Felony and misdemeanor records in Tennessee detail criminal convictions ranging from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. These records include information about the offense, the court's verdict, and any sentencing details. They are critical for background checks, employment screenings, and legal purposes. Such records can be obtained from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Parole Records

Parole records in Tennessee document an individual's release from prison under parole supervision. They include terms of parole, duration, and compliance status. These records are essential for monitoring parolees and ensuring legal compliance. Access to parole records can be gained through the Tennessee Board of Parole.

Probation Records

Probation records in Tennessee track an individual's time under probation, including conditions, duration, and any violations. These records are vital for legal proceedings and probation management. They can be obtained from the relevant county probation office or the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Warrant Search

Conducting a warrant search in Tennessee allows individuals to check for active arrest warrants. This information is crucial for legal compliance and personal knowledge. Warrant searches can be performed through local law enforcement agencies or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Inmate And Jail Records

Inmate and jail records in Tennessee provide information on individuals incarcerated in state or county facilities. These records include inmate profiles, incarceration details, and release dates. They are important for tracking inmates and for legal proceedings. Inmate records can be accessed through the Tennessee Department of Correction or the specific county jail's website.

What you can find

In Tennessee, inmate and jail records provide comprehensive information about individuals who are incarcerated or have been in the custody of jail or prison facilities. These records typically contain the following details:

  • Personal Information: This includes the inmate’s name, date of birth, physical description (such as height, weight, and any distinguishing marks or tattoos), and sometimes a photograph or mugshot.
  • Incarceration Details: Records show the date and location of incarceration, including the specific jail or prison facility where the inmate is being held.
  • Booking Information: Details about the inmate’s booking, including the booking number, time of booking, and the law enforcement agency that made the arrest.
  • Criminal Charges: Information on the charges for which the inmate was arrested or convicted, including the nature of the offenses and any associated case numbers.
  • Sentence Information: For convicted inmates, records include details about their sentence, such as the length of the sentence, any fines or restitution ordered, and the sentencing court.
  • Bail/Bond Information: If applicable, details about bail or bond posted for the inmate’s release.
  • Release Date: The scheduled release date for the inmate, if applicable, or information on parole eligibility.
  • Behavioral Records: Records may include information about the inmate’s behavior while incarcerated, including participation in rehabilitation programs, educational achievements, or any disciplinary actions.
  • Transfer Information: Details about any transfers between different jail or prison facilities.

These records are maintained by the Tennessee Department of Correction for state prisons and by individual county sheriff’s offices for county jails. They serve as an essential tool for legal professionals, law enforcement agencies, and families or associates of the incarcerated individuals, providing key information about their incarceration status and history. These records can typically be accessed through the Tennessee Department of Correction website or the respective county jail’s online portal.

How to Perform an Inmate Search in Tennessee

Performing an inmate search in Tennessee is a straightforward process that can be completed online. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Visit the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Website: Go to the TDOC inmate search page. This is the primary resource for finding inmates within the state’s prison system.
  • Use the Inmate Locator Tool: On the TDOC website, you’ll find an inmate locator tool. You can search by entering the inmate’s name, TOMIS ID, or State ID.
  • Enter the Inmate’s Information: Input the first and last name of the inmate you are searching for. The more details you have, such as the middle name or ID numbers, the more accurate your search results will be.
  • Review Search Results: After entering the search criteria, the website will display a list of inmates matching your query. The results typically include the inmate’s name, ID number, date of birth, and the facility where they are housed.
  • Click on a Record for More Details: For more information about a specific inmate, click on their record. You will be able to see additional details such as the inmate’s offenses, sentence length, and projected release date.
  • Contact the Facility for More Information: If you need more detailed information or have specific queries, you can contact the facility where the inmate is housed. The contact details for each facility are available on the TDOC website.

Can I look up mugshots in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, accessing mugshots can depend on various factors, such as the policies of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and the nature of the crime. Here are some general guidelines on how to look up mugshots:

  • Public Records Requests: Mugshots, as part of arrest records, are generally considered public records. You can request these records from the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. This could be a local police department or the sheriff’s office.
  • Online Databases: Some law enforcement agencies in Tennessee may provide online databases where mugshots are available. These can often be accessed through the agency’s official website.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests: If the mugshot is not readily available online, you may make a request under the FOIA or similar state-level law. Be prepared for possible fees associated with processing these requests.
  • Privacy and Legal Restrictions: Be aware that there might be legal restrictions on the distribution of mugshots. This is particularly the case if the arrest involves minor, sensitive charges or if the case is ongoing.
  • Third-Party Websites: There are also commercial websites that aggregate mugshots from different sources. However, the accuracy and legality of these sites can vary, and they might not always have the most current information.
  • Ethical Considerations: It’s important to consider the ethical implications of searching for and using mugshots, as they can impact the privacy and reputation of individuals, especially those who have not been convicted.

Always ensure that your search complies with local laws and regulations, and be aware of the potential implications of disseminating such information.

Tennessee Arrest Records

Tennessee arrest records are official documents that detail an individual’s encounters with law enforcement leading to an arrest. These records, maintained by police departments, sheriff’s offices, and other law enforcement agencies.

What Do These Records Contain:

Tennessee arrest records contain the following information:

  • Personal Identification: Arrest records often include the arrested individual’s name, date of birth, physical description (like height, weight, hair and eye color), and sometimes photographs or mugshots.
  • Arrest Details: They provide specifics about the arrest, including the date, time, and location of the arrest, the arresting agency, and the names of the arresting officers.
  • Charges: The records outline the specific charges that led to the arrest, which could range from minor infractions to serious felonies.
  • Case Information: This includes the case number associated with the arrest, any relevant court information, and the status of the case (such as pending, dismissed, or convicted).
  • Bail/Bond Information: If applicable, the records will detail bail or bond amounts set and whether they were posted.
  • Custody Information: Details about where the individual was held in custody and any transfer information to different detention facilities.

It’s important to note that an arrest record does not indicate guilt or a conviction; it simply records the fact that an individual was arrested on suspicion of a crime. The progression and outcome of the case would be detailed in subsequent court records. Tennessee arrest records are used for various purposes, including background checks, legal proceedings, and research. These records are accessible to the public through the respective law enforcement agencies, although certain privacy and legal restrictions may apply

Tennessee Property and Asset Records Online

To find property and asset records online in Tennessee, you can start by visiting the website of the county assessor’s office in the county where the property is located. Each county in Tennessee maintains its own property records, and many offer online search tools where you can look up information by entering the property address, owner’s name, or parcel number. These records typically include details about property ownership, assessed value, property taxes, and descriptions of the property. For more comprehensive information, such as property transaction history or detailed assessments, you may need to visit the county office in person or submit a formal request.

Unclaimed Properties in Tennessee

For locating unclaimed properties in Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Treasury operates an unclaimed property division. This division maintains a database of unclaimed assets like uncashed checks, forgotten bank accounts, stocks, and dividends. 

Driving Records

To find driving records in Tennessee, you can request them through the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. You have the option to request your driving record online, by mail, or in person at a Driver Services Center. The online request can be made through the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security website, which provides a quick and convenient way to access your record. When requesting your driving record, you’ll need to provide personal information such as your driver’s license number and pay a nominal fee for the record.

Civil Driving Infractions

In Tennessee, civil driving infractions, also known as traffic violations, are non-criminal offenses that involve breaking road rules and regulations. These infractions typically result in fines, points on your driving record, and sometimes mandatory attendance at traffic school, but they do not lead to imprisonment. Common civil driving infractions in Tennessee include speeding, running a red light or stop sign, failing to yield right-of-way, seat belt violations, and illegal parking. More serious infractions, like reckless driving or driving under the influence (DUI), are usually classified as misdemeanors or felonies, carrying more severe penalties. Civil infractions can impact car insurance rates and, if accumulated, may lead to the suspension of driving privileges.

Tennessee White Pages - Find People, Addresses, and Other Non-Official Information

Address Search ​

Address searches in Tennessee can be conducted for various purposes, such as property information, zoning details, and ownership history. These searches can typically be performed through county assessor’s websites, where you enter the address to access property records, tax information, and sometimes valuation assessments. For more comprehensive data, resources like the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website or real estate websites can provide additional insights. Additionally, local government offices can be contacted directly for specific information that may not be available online.

People Search​

People searches in Tennessee can be carried out using online public record databases, social media platforms, and professional networking sites. The Tennessee White Pages, along with other online directories, offer a straightforward way to search for individuals by name, providing contact information and addresses. For more detailed information, public records accessible through state or county government websites can be utilized, offering access to records like voter registration, property ownership, and court proceedings. Furthermore, third-party people search services are available, though accuracy and currency of the data should be verified.

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

Yes, in Tennessee, as in many other places, you can search by a phone number to identify the owner, a process known as a reverse phone lookup. This can be done through various online services and platforms. By entering the phone number into a reverse phone lookup service, you can often find the owner’s name, address, and other related information, although the detail and accuracy can vary depending on the service. Additionally, caller ID apps and search engines can sometimes provide information about the owner of a phone number. However, it’s important to use these tools responsibly and be aware of privacy considerations, as well as the potential limitations and accuracy of the data provided by different services.

License Plate Lookup in Tennessee

Conducting a license plate lookup in Tennessee for the purpose of obtaining personal information about another individual can be challenging due to legal and privacy considerations. Here’s a general approach:

  • Law Enforcement and Legal Purposes: If you need information from a license plate for law enforcement or legal reasons, such as following a hit-and-run incident, you should report it to the police. Law enforcement can conduct a license plate search and use the information as part of their investigation.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): The Tennessee DMV can perform license plate lookups, but this information is typically restricted to authorized personnel, such as law enforcement or individuals with a permissible use under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).
  • Legal Requests: If you need license plate information for legal proceedings, such as in the case of accidents or litigation, your attorney can request this information through the appropriate legal channels.
  • Personal Use: If you’re looking up a license plate related to your vehicle, such as checking registration status, you can do this through the Tennessee DMV. However, accessing someone else’s vehicle information for personal reasons is usually not permitted.
  • Third-party Websites: Be cautious with online services claiming to provide license plate lookups. Many cannot legally access state DMV records, and the information they provide may be outdated or inaccurate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

Any member of the public can request access to public records in Tennessee, with these records being available to ensure government transparency and accountability.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

While viewing public records in Tennessee is often free, there may be fees for copying or processing, especially for extensive or specialized requests.

Are public records Free to access?

Accessing public records in Tennessee is generally free, but fees may apply for copying, mailing, or extensive research involved in fulfilling a request.

What is the response time for public records requests?

Tennessee law requires that public records requests be responded to promptly, although the exact time frame can vary depending on the complexity and volume of the request.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, a request for public records in Tennessee can be rejected if it pertains to confidential or exempt information, such as records related to personal privacy, security, or ongoing legal investigations.

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