Colorado Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

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

Colorado Public Records

Colorado's Open Records Act (CORA) defines and designates how public records may be accessed and by whom. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, "The Colorado Open Records Act "CORA" requires that most public records be available to the public. A "public record" includes most writings made, maintained, or kept by our office. However, there are some exceptions concerning records made available under CORA.

Anyone can request public records in the possession of a government office, including the Secretary of State's office."

In Colorado, public records are created by law enforcement, lawyers, government agencies, and various personnel, the courts, and other state and local organizations. In some cases, an individual may contribute paperwork, which later becomes public record.

The Colorado Open Records Act stipulates that "All public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided in this part 2 or as otherwise provided by law, but the official custodian of any public records may make such rules with reference to the inspection of such records as are reasonably necessary for the protection of such records and the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or the custodian's office."

The Colorado Secretary of State is the government agency in charge of public records. They process requests upon receipt. However, they warn that not all public records are stored with them. In many cases, you will have to contact the government agency which has custody of the records you need.

Colorado's State Archives office is the agency in charge of keeping historical public records. They have a website making it easy to perform an online search. Among their collections, they store historical records, legal records from the courts (divorce and probate), mining data, legislative records, water records, and military documents. They also offer resources for genealogy.

 

How to Access Colorado Public Records?

How to Access Colorado Public Records

To access the state of Colorado's public records, follow the steps below:

  • Visit the Colorado Secretary of State website.
  • Type up a detailed, written request and send it via mail or fax.
  • Be sure to include: Your name and mailing address, your phone number or email address, and a detailed list or description of the specific records that you are seeking, including search terms and a date range.
  • Per the law, the SOS will attempt to process your request within three business days.
  • You may be asked to pay fees if the research and retrieval takes time.

If the Secretary of State does not have the records you are looking for, you may have to visit other government agencies to retrieve them. The process of accessing records with them may be different.

 

Different Types of Public Records in Colorado

Colorado Criminal Records

The Colorado Judicial Branch is the agency in charge of all court and criminal records. You cannot access any records through their website. However, they have partners with LexisNexis to put records online using a tool called CoCourts. This portal allows you to search for records and view them, but you cannot get copies unless you visit the actual courthouse who processed the criminal trial. They also offer criminal court records using another service called Background Information Services (BIS), where you can pay to access criminal records online. Both services do charge fees for online access.

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

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - common misdemeanors in Colorado include unlawful possession of a driver's license, ownership of a dangerous dog, hazing, harassment, theft, and fourth-degree arson. Some examples of felonies in Colorado include sexual assault, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, identity theft, and perjury in the first degree.
  • Colorado Jail and Inmate Records- both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The Colorado Department of Corrections allows online searches for prison inmates through their website.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

You can use both of the services listed above to find and review criminal records. However, for copies, you need to visit the courthouse in person. Some local police stations may also offer them to you upon request.

Colorado Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in Colorado

Court records in Colorado, are stored and maintained by each local courthouse or court type. The Colorado Judicial Branch maintains court records online using two different tools CoCourts , and BIS. Both of these services charge fees to search for records. If you need actual copies of documents, you will need to visit the courthouse where the proceeding took place. They allow public access to records but will charge you a fee for processing.

Some types of court records in Colorado are:

  • Civil Court Records - family court cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity issues, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, 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 evidence 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, judgments, traffic tickets and other traffic violations, and name changes.

Courts in Colorado are organized in six levels, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, then District Court, Juvenile and Probate Courts, County, and Municipal Courts, and then Water Court.

Along with online access, you can visit each courthouse in person to pick up copies of documents and files.

Colorado Arrest Records

Colorado arrest records are available to the general public through two websites, the CoCourts or BIS background check service. Colorado has its own internal CICJIS portal for exchanging criminal information between government agencies. When accessing records online, you must pay a fee. You can also visit the courthouses in person or the local police for arrest information. You may also have to pay a fee but can get actual paper copies.

Some different types of arrests records in Colorado are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Prostitution.
  • Criminal driving violations like DUIs/DWIs.
  • Harassment.
  • Theft.
  • Arson.
  • Booking details like 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.
  • Sex charges.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

Each individual police station collects, creates, stores, and maintains their own arrest records. The courts will also have copies of some arrest-related records. You can consult both resources to find what you need.

Colorado Vital Records

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the agency in charge of collecting, storing, and disseminating vital records for the state. They offer birth and death certificates, adoption records, along with marriage and divorce certificates upon request. They can supply you with copies in person, but they also offer two online options with VitalChek and GoCertificates. Additionally, you can order them through the mail or by phone.

 

Other Public Records in Colorado

Other Public Records in Colorado

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Colorado include, but are not limited to:

  • Government contract with vendors.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Government agency budgets.
  • Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Salaries.
 

What Information is Not Public Record in Colorado?

Not all records are public records in Colorado. Things like medical records, trust fund accounts, trade secrets, marketing plans, warrants, sealed or juvenile criminal records are not public records. Also, records that contain personally identifiable details like social security numbers, tax IDs, driver's license numbers, and other information will not be provided. If public records contain these items, they will be redacted (blacked out) before given to anyone.