What are Kentucky Public Records, and How are They Created?
The Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to KRS 61.884 of 1976, establishes the right of public access to government records. According to Transparency.ky.gov, "The General Assembly recognized that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest. All public records, whether they are stored in a computer or on paper, must be open for inspection unless the records are exempted by one or more of the fourteen exemptions found in the Act. You may inspect any nonexempt public record regardless of your identity, and you may seek enforcement of the Act if you are denied this right."
Public records are created, stored, and maintained by state and local government agencies. These agencies may include:
- "State and local government officers, departments, and legislative bodies;
- County and city governing bodies, school district boards, special district boards, and municipal corporations;
- State or local government agencies created by statute or other legislative acts;Bodies that receive at least 25% of their funds from state or local authority;
- An entity where the majority of its governing body is appointed by a public agency;
- Boards, commissions, committees, etc. that are established created, and controlled by public agencies; and
- Interagency bodies of two or more public agencies."
According to the Kentucky Open Records Act, a public record is "all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, discs, diskettes, recordings, software, or other documentation regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by a public agency. "Public record" shall not include any records owned or maintained by or for a body referred to in subsection (1)(h) of this section that are not related to functions, activities, programs, or operations funded by state or local authority."
The Attorney General's Office in Kentucky has information on public records and requests. They also provide instructions on how to request records through their office via the mail. Additionally, they make decisions regarding access or detail to public records.
The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives is the government agency in Kentucky that maintains all public record archives. They store a lot of information online for easy public access. Along with vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces), they also have information on county courthouse disasters, state and local government public records, and much more. You can also visit them in person to view records that are not stored online.
How to Access Kentucky Public Records?
To access Kentucky Public Records, you must follow the explicit instructions of the agency of whom you are requesting records from. Some general guidelines are:
- Visit the government agency website.
- Look for a downloadable form for a public records request.
- Search for a phone number to call if you have questions.
- Sometimes you can order records using an online form.
- Pay the fees and await your records.
You can visit many of the government offices in person to request information or copies of records.
Different Types of Public Records in Kentucky
Kentucky Criminal Records
The Kentucky State Police has information on how to request public criminal records. You can only request them in writing. However, the Kentucky Court of Justice is another government agency that handles criminal record reports. You can request one easily online through their website. They charge $25 apiece for each criminal record. You can also order them in person rather than online if you prefer.
Some common types of criminal records in Kentucky include (but are not limited to):
- Felony and Misdemeanor Records - common misdemeanors in Kentucky are domestic violence, drunk driving, drug arrest, property crimes, weapons charges, and sexual offenses. Some felonies in Kentucky include murder, grand larceny, armed robbery, and assault with serious injuries.
- Jail and Inmate Records- both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The Kentucky Department of Corrections has an offender search tool on their website to locate criminals and their records.
- Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.
Kentucky Court Records
Court records in Kentucky are maintained and disseminated by the Kentucky Court of Justice. They have a user-friendly website where the public can easily request court records, criminal reports, and other information quickly. Their search tool is called KyCourts, and you can search using various criteria like name, business name, birth dates, etc.
Some types of court records in Kentucky are:
- Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, 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.
The Kentucky court system is split into four levels starting with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, the Circuit Court and Family Court, and finally, District Court.
You always have the option of visiting the courthouse in person also to request records.
Kentucky Arrest Records
Kentucky arrest records are available in a few different ways in Kentucky. First, you can contact the Kentucky State Police for a public records request and find arrest records there. You can visit local law enforcement to get copies of arrests. You can also use the court's website to locate court documents and arrests for offenders, and finally, you can consult the Kentucky Department of Corrections website to find an offender and lookup arrest records that way.
Some different types of arrests records in Kentucky are:
- Drug charges.
- Spying on someone or using a device to eavesdrop in a private space.
- Aggravated assault.
- Sexual abuse.
- 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.
- Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.
Kentucky Vital Records
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the entity in charge of protecting, storing, and issuing copies of all vital records for the state. They keepbirths, deaths, marriages, divorce andstillbirths records and supply certificates upon request, for a fee. This agency uses the VitalChek service for ordering certificates online, but you can also request them through the mail or in person at their offices.
Other Public Records in Kentucky
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Kentucky include, but are not limited to:
- Government budgets and annual reports.
- Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
- Home addresses.
- Maps, books, and tapes.
- State health and wellness statistics.
- Air and water quality (pollution reports).
- Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
- Home phone numbers.
- Police and accident reports.
- Liens & tax issues.
- Company incorporation records.
- Library Research.
- Personnel records for state agencies.
- Permits, licenses, and certifications.
- Government employee salaries.
What Information is Not Public Record in Kentucky?
According to Kentucky's Public Record Act, the following (partial list) are not considered public records:
- "Public records containing information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
- Records confidentially disclosed to an agency and compiled and maintained for scientific research.
- In conjunction with an application for or the administration of a loan or grant.
- Public records pertaining to a prospective location of a business or industry where no previous public disclosure has been made of the business' or industry's interest in locating in, relocating within or expanding within the Commonwealth.
- Public records which are developed by an agency in conjunction with the regulation or supervision of financial institutions, including but not limited to, banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions, which disclose the agency's internal examining or audit criteria and related analytical methods.
- The contents of real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made by or for a public agency relative to acquisition of property, until such time as all of the property has been acquired.
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination before the exam is given or if it is to be given again.
- Records of law enforcement agencies or agencies involved in administrative adjudication that were compiled in the process of detecting and investigating statutory or regulatory violations if the disclosure of the information would harm the agency by revealing the identity of informants not otherwise known or by premature release of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action or administrative adjudication."