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Tennessee has a particular government office called the Office of Open Records Counsel, which sets the standards for public records access and the rules and fees. They have a specific form you can fill out and use with any government entity to request records. Although the law does not require you to fill out a form, this particular one makes the request easier for the government agency and makes it official. Each government office has the custodian of a public record that you will need to contact for public records. They have seven days to respond to your request. The public records access law states: "All state, county, and municipal records shall, at all times during business hours, which for public hospitals shall be during the business hours of their administrative offices, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen unless otherwise provided by state law."
All government agencies in Tennessee create, store, maintain, and share public records. Some examples might be the courts, local town offices, police stations, the Department of Corrections, and the mayor's office.
"Public record or records or state record or records means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency."
The Tennessee Secretary of State has a division called the Tennessee State Library and Archives. This agency is the government entity tasked with preserving historical public records. Along with vital records, they maintain collections, including maps, war archives, government records, newspapers, land records, tax forms, probate, and military records. They offer genealogy researchers dozens of helpful resources.
The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has a website where they provide guidance on how to request public records. Here is what they have to say:
The government agency may do one of three things in response to your request:
You can contact the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government if you need help.
TNCourts.gov is the agency in charge of criminal records for the state. They keep these criminal court cases online and searchable for the public. Additionally, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (part of TN.gov), also offers public criminal background checks upon request. You do have to pay a $29 fee for this service, however. You can also pay a $50 fee and get a nation wide (FBI) background check too. They use the IdentGo service for fingerprints for those types of background check reports.
Some common types of criminal records in Tennessee include (but are not limited to):
Court records in Tennessee are created, stored, and shared by TNCourts.gov. They have an extensive website where you can search for and review public court records. You have the option of searching by case number, case type, name, or organization. You may also visit a courthouse in person to request copies of court records.
Some types of court records in Tennessee include:
The court system in Tennessee consists of four levels with many different types of courts. The top-level is the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals and Criminal Court of Appeals. The next level contains the Circuit Court, Chancery, Probate, and Criminal Court. The final level has the Juvenile Court, the Grand Session Court, and Municipal Court.
Tennessee arrest records may be found in one of two locations. First, the TNCourts.gov website allows you to search freely through criminal court records. You also have the option of contacting The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for a full criminal background check that will also contain arrest data. If nothing is posted online about the person in question, you could always check in with the local police and get arrest information that way.
Some different types of arrests records in Tennessee are:
In Tennessee, the Office of Vital Records as part of TN.gov is the government agency in charge of all vital records for the state. Their mission is stated as: "The Tennessee Office of Vital Records reviews, registers, amends, issues and maintains the original certificates of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that occur in Tennessee in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated." You may request vital record copies from them via mail, in person, or online.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Tennessee include, but are not limited to:
Not all records in Tennessee are public records. Some records or portions of records are kept private. Some examples are: