Georgia public records as defined by the Open Records Act of 2016 as "Public record means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer-based or generated information, data, data fields, or similar material prepared and maintained or received by an agency or by a private person or entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency or when such documents have been transferred to a private person or entity by an agency for storage or future governmental use." Additionally, they go on to stipulate, "All public records shall be open for personal inspection and copying, except those which by order of a court of this state or by law are specifically exempted from disclosure. Records shall be maintained by agencies to the extent and in the manner required by Article 5 of this chapter."
Georgia public records are created by officials and staff working for government agencies (both state and local). Government agencies that fall under the open records act are defined as "association, corporation, or other similar organization that has a membership or ownership body composed primarily of counties, municipal corporations, or school districts of this state, their officers, or any combination thereof and derives more than 33 1/3 percent of its general operating budget from payments from such political subdivisions."
Georgia's Open Records Act says "The General Assembly finds and declares that the strong public policy of this state is in favor of open government; that open government is essential to a free, open, and democratic society; and that public access to public records should be encouraged to foster confidence in government and so that the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the efficient and proper functioning of its institutions. The General Assembly further finds and declares that there is a strong presumption that public records should be made available for public inspection without delay."
According to Georgia's Office of the Attorney General, public records requests must be made directly to the agency/custodian of the records you need. You can request records in person, over the phone, or through the mail.
Georgia Archives is the entity responsible for collecting, housing, disseminating all historical public records. Along with old vital records like birth, death, marriage, and divorce records, they also maintain manuscripts, photographs, maps, and government records. Some of the sources they provide are regional newspapers for legal notices, obituaries, election results, legislative news, and more. Many of the records are stored online for easy access, but they also have paper documents you can review in person.
Georgia's Secretary of State handles many public records requests. They have a request form on their website that you can use to order copies of records for a fee. To request records through them follow the steps below:
According to Georgia state law, most public records will be held by the agency that created them. You can contact each one individually to get copies of most things.
In Georgia, you cannot typically request a copy of someone's criminal records unless you are using it for employment, licensing, or law enforcement. They do not allow name searches. However, the law does allow the public to search for, and access convicted felons criminal records through local law enforcement (police) or an online search using the Georgia Felon Search website. They do charge a fee for this service. If you are requesting a criminal background check for official purposes, you must have fingerprints.
Some common types of criminal records in Georgia include (but are not limited to):
Court records in Georgia are maintained by the The Judicial Council of Georgia. They have set up the Georgia Judicial Gateway website to make accessing court records easy for the public, legal professionals, and court administration. Using this website, you can easily search for specific case files, e-file documents, and perform extensive research using their law library. They also have statistical reports you can review.
Some types of court records in Georgia are:
Courts in Georgia are organized in six levels starting with the Supreme, then the Court of Appeals, Superior Court, County Recorder's Court, Probate Court, the Magistrate Court and Municipal Court, and finally Civil Court, State Court, and Juvenile Court.
If you cannot locate the files you need online; you can visit any courthouse in person to request them.
Georgia arrest records are created and stored by each individual local law enforcement agency. For convicted offenders, you can request copies of their arrest records. Otherwise, if you have an official purpose (like licensing, law enforcement, and employment) for doing so, you can get a consent form from the individual and request a copy of their arrest records. You will have to pay a fee for each record you request. You can also search court records to find information on arrests for convicted felons.
Some different types of arrests records in Georgia are:
Georgia's Department of Public Health is the government agency in charge of preserving and issuing all vital records for the state. Their records go back to 1919. They can supply copies of birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates upon request. You will have to pay a fee. You can request these through two online services GoCertificates and VitalChek or use the state-authored service called ROVER. You may also order by mail or in person at one of their locations. On their website, you can download each of the request forms.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, property records in Georgia are also public. Here are the others:
Not all records are public records in Georgia. Some things that are exempt from the Open Records Act are: "insurance and medical information for personnel, or records that are included as part of an active or pending investigation. Information, such as social security numbers, credit card information, and bank account information, will be redacted from public records prior to disclosure." Additionally, the following items are not available to the public: "One cannot request documents concerning certain national historical places or wildlife refuges, security plans or measures dealing with homeland security, nor can someone request athletic records dealing with children of the age of 12 or younger. Any document dealing with real estate that a state or local agency is attempting to purchase or construct can also be exempted prior to the project or purchases completion or termination."