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Arizona Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are Arizona Public Records, and How are They Created?

Arizona Public Records

Arizona law defines public records as "Everything created or received by a public body, or public officer that relates to public business or is created or received in the course of conducting public business (even if on personal computers)." According to ARS 41-151.18, public records include "all books, papers, maps, photographs, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics … made or received by any governmental agency in pursuance of law or in transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation."

Officers of government agencies and legal professionals create public records. Sometimes individuals fill out forms that later become public records in Arizona. Law enforcement agents and other government officials also create them and are responsible for maintaining them and storing them.

"Any person may request to examine or be furnished copies, printouts or photographs of any public record during regular office hours or may request that the custodian mail a copy of any public record not otherwise available on the public body's website to the requesting person. The custodian of such records shall promptly furnish such copies, printouts, or photographs and may charge a fee if the facilities are available, except that public records for purposes listed in section 39-122 or 39-127 shall be furnished without charge."

The Arizona State Library, Archives, & Public Records (ASLAPR) office is the place to start. Public records are stored and maintained by various government agencies, and the ASLAPR has a listing of who to contact for copies.

The State Archives and Records Management Center is the agency in charge of archived public records. They keep copies of birth certificates, death records, genealogy documents, along with naturalization and school records dating back beyond 50 years. They also keep records of old Supreme Court cases and water rights records.


How to Access Arizona Public Records?

How to Access Arizona Public Records

Arizona's Ombudsman has a guide to getting copies of public records. It reads as follows:

  • Decide what documents you need (be as specific as possible).
  • Determine who maintains custody of those records, consult the ASLAPR website to find out who to contact.
  • Collect as much information as you can through free public records portals. Consult and click on public records and then links.
  • You may request records over the phone, in person, or in writing.
  • If you are denied your request, you can file an appeal, but first, contact the Arizona Ombudsman – Citizens' Aide for assistance.

If you are still denied access to the records you require, you can take your case to the courts.


Different Types of Public Records in Arizona

Arizona Criminal Records

Arizona's Judicial Branch offers a centralized website where the public can easily search for criminal records pertaining to criminal charges, convictions, sentencing, and other records 24/7. However, they do not guarantee the accuracy of records stored online.

Arizona criminal records may contain detailed physical descriptions of the offender, fingerprints, mugshots, prison records, sentencing, charges, court files, and more.

Some common types of criminal records in Arizona include (but are not limited to):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - common misdemeanors in Arizona include DUIs, driving with a suspended license, assault, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, and criminal damage. Some common felonies include first and second-degree murder, child pornography, drug trafficking, or sex crimes.
  • Arizona Jail and Inmate Records - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. Arizona's Department of Corrections allows online searches for prison inmates.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

Arizona uses the eAccess system for storing and maintaining criminal and court records. The general public is urged to use this system rather than visit in person. You can also visit the Arizona Department of Corrections to look up inmate data and criminal records that way.

Arizona Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in Arizona

Court records in Arizona, for the most part, are all stored online for easy access. However, they do charge fees per document or offer bulk plans if you need more records on a regular basis. Some of the types of court cases available are lawsuits, criminal proceedings, property records, divorces, marriages, child support, civil filings, and small claims disputes. Along with the eAccess option, you can visit the actual courthouse to obtain paper copies after paying a fee.

Some types of court records in Arizona are:

  • Civil Court Records - family matters like paternity, divorces, custody and child support, probate issues, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and other documents related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, and judgments.

Courts in Arizona are organized in four levels, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, then the Superior Court and Tax Court, and then Justice of the Peace Court and Municipal Court.

Court records in Arizona are maintained by Arizona's Judicial Branch. They use the online eAccess system to handle public record requests, but visitors can also show up in person at the courthouse for copies.

Arizona Arrest Records

Although local police handle arresting individuals and filing out the initial paperwork, the Arizona Judicial Branch maintains and stores all Arizona arrest records online. These records may include court documents related to the case, fingerprints, mugshots, citations, police reports, and a full description of the offender.

Some different types of arrests records in Arizona are:

  • Possession or the sale of drugs.
  • Criminal driving violations like DUIs/DWIs.
  • Booking records, which may include fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is the government agency in charge of keeping and disseminating arrest and criminal records. You can request records through their website or in person. They do charge a fee, and records requests may take a few days to arrive. You may also contact local police for some types of arrest records.

Arizona Vital Records

Arizona's Department of Health Services maintains all vital records for the state. They issue copies of vital records upon request. They have birth and death certificates, marriage and divorce records, and genealogy reports as well. Arizona uses the VitalChek system for ordering copies of vital records online. They do charge fees for certified and non-certified copies. They also allow walk-in service in their Phoenix office.


Other Public Records in Arizona

Other Public Records in Arizona

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, property records in Arizona are also public. Here are the others:

  • Government calendars, agendas, meeting minutes and budgets.
  • Annual reports.
  • Phone bills.
  • Police reports.
  • Reports and briefs.
  • Accident reports.
  • Photographs.
  • Case files & emails.
  • Contractor licenses.
  • Liens.
  • Incorporation records.
  • Personnel records.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Salaries.

What Information is Not Public Record in Arizona?

According to Arizona law, things that will not be supplied to the general public are unserved protection orders, mental health records, juvenile criminal records, probate cases, witness and victim information, as well as personally identifiable details like bank account details, social security numbers, and driver's license numbers. If records with these items on them are released, that information will be blacked out.