Oklahoma's open records law (Title 51 O.S. Sections 24A.1 - 24A.30) states that "All records of public bodies and public officials are open to any person for inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction during regular business hours. The Open Records Act does not apply to records specifically required by law to be kept confidential. The public bodies will provide prompt, reasonable access to its records but may establish reasonable procedures to protect the integrity of its records and to prevent excessive disruption to its essential functions." Each and every government agency has its own procedure for supplying records, and they are allowed to charge a small fee for copies.
Government agencies (called public bodies) create, store, maintain and share public records. For example, the vital records office preserves all birth, death, marriage, and divorce records for the state. Law enforcement agencies create RAP sheets when someone is arrested, and later if the person is moved to prison, those become prison/jail records. The courts, legal professionals, and even individuals also create public records in Oklahoma.
"Public body" shall include, but not be limited to, any office, department, board, bureau, commission, agency, trusteeship, authority, council, committee, trust, or any entity created by a trust, county, city, village, town, township, district, school district, fair board, court, executive office, advisory group, task force, study group, or any subdivision thereof, supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expenditure of public funds or administering or operating public property, and all committees, or subcommittees thereof. Except for the records required by Section 24A.4 of this title, "public body" does not mean judges, justices, the Council on Judicial Complaints, the Legislature, or legislators."
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries is the government agency tasked with preserving historical archives and public records. Along with vital records, their collections include:
There is no centralized office for making public records requests. You must contact each agency directly. However, the open records law requires each agency to designate a public-records official to handle all public records requests. Each agency can legally charge you a fee for copies of records. Some government bodies have sample letters you can use to request records. You can make a request in person, through the mail, by email, or by phone.
The Oklahoma State Courts Network has a website where you can easily search for criminal case files. The search criteria includes name, date of birth (range), type of court, type of case, and date the incident occurred. You can also search the Oklahoma Department of Corrections offender locator website to search for criminal records. Since law enforcement agencies create criminal records starting with a RAP sheet, you can also request some records through local police departments.
Some common types of criminal records in Oklahoma include (but are not limited to):
The Oklahoma State Courts Network has a web portal where you can search for Court records in Oklahoma. The form on their website has many search criteria to choose from, and you can search by the court, area, party, and case number. You can also choose to visit a specific courthouse in person and request copies of court records. You may have to fill out a form and pay the fees, however.
Some types of court records in Oklahoma include:
The court system in Oklahoma consists of five levels beginning with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Civil Appeals, then the District Court, followed by the Court of Tax Review, Municipal Court Not of Record, and the Municipal Criminal Court of Record.
Oklahoma arrest records begin at the local police level with a RAP sheet. Then they progress to the courts and eventually to the Department of Corrections if the person goes to prison. You can search online for arrest records through the Oklahoma State Courts Network or the DOC for convicted offenders.
Some different types of arrests records in Oklahoma are:
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is the government agency that handles all vital records for the state. They have every birth, death, and fetal death certificate going back to 1908. You can easily request copies of certificates in person, through the mail, or online using one of two online portals (VitalChek, and Oklahoma). You can also order by phone using VitalChek. To obtain marriage certificates, contact your local town office. The Department of Health also handles health statistics for the state, adoption information, and corrections to vital records.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Oklahoma include, but are not limited to:
Not all public records in Oklahoma are open. According to their open records law, the following things will remain confidential: