Under the federal Freedom of Information Act, many legal records are available for the public to view. These records include real estate transactions, divorce records, criminal records and information about property taxes associated with specific parcels of land. These public records can be viewed online or at the government offices that house them free of charge.
Access Free Public Records in Alabama
The first step toward viewing free public records in Alabama is to determine where the records are housed. Information about property taxes is maintained by county tax assessors' offices. Records of marriages, divorces and other family court rulings are maintained by county circuit courts. Criminal records are maintained by the courts that have jurisdiction over the cases.
Records of arrests and convictions of state-level offenses are handled by the state court and records of federal crimes are maintained by the federal district courts that handle them.
Read More: How to Access County Public Records for Free
Finding Other Public Records for Free in Alabama
Other public records, like records of easements, property transactions, civil violations and probate cases are also maintained by their respective government offices. Viewing property records may require a trip to the local building department if these records are not viewable online. Similarly, information about an ongoing probate case may require contact with the clerk of the county's probate court. When a searcher does not know what government agency to contact for access to specific records, she can contact the county clerk of courts office to find out where to direct the search.
Public records are always available for free from the government agencies that maintain them. Some records are available online and some require an in-person visit to the court office. In some cases, viewing the record is free but making copies of it requires a small fee. Although certain privately operated websites charge fees for searchers who want information beyond the records they can locate for free, searchers are paying for the convenience of using a website to access these records quickly, not the records themselves.
Find Alabama Arrest Records Free
It is fairly simple to find Alabama arrest records free of charge on the internet. Popular websites for conducting this type of search include:
These websites conduct a full sweep of online law enforcement databases to provide information about an individual's arrest history. Often, this type of website is a searcher’s first step in finding Alabama arrest records free of charge. Once he knows where the individual was arrested and the jurisdiction where his case was handled, that jurisdiction’s database can be accessed for more information about the individual’s arrest, offense and sentence. Information that helps a searcher use online databases to find criminal records includes the subject’s name and known aliases, a physical description of the individual and cities and states where he has lived.
If the searcher knows or suspects the individual was arrested for a sex crime, she can check Alabama’s Sex Offender Registry for information, like a current address and the nature of the offense.
Not All Alabama Public Records Are Available
When conducting a search for free public records in Alabama, searchers should keep in mind that certain records are not available to the public. A legal record that would otherwise be publicly available may be sealed for a variety of reasons, such as to protect the involved parties’ privacy.
For example, a divorced person may request that his divorce record be sealed, and if an individual with a criminal record meets certain criteria, he may have charges expunged from the record or removed from most background checks. When an adoption is finalized, the adoptee’s original birth certificate is sealed and only accessible to the adoptee upon becoming an adult.
Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.