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Arkansas Court Records

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Are Arkansas Records Public?

Under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, most of the records maintained by government agencies are public. The Act states that "all records" created, filed, or maintained by public agencies as part of their duties "shall be presumed to be public records." Per the act, Public records aren't restricted to only documents and writing. It also includes all digital media, data compilations, or computer-based information maintained by "a public official or employee, a governmental agency." To this end, almost a large majority of residents can obtain records.

Note: Public records do not include any leased, licensed, or purchased software used by the government. 

Who Can Access Arkansas Public Records?

Arkansas is one of nine US states that restrict access to public records to only state residents. As of 2024, only citizens of Arkansas can access Arkansas public records. In addition, state laws prevent any citizen currently incarcerated who has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a felony to obtain copies of a record.

Eligible requesters can obtain copies of non-confidential records by submitting a request to the record custodian. Record seekers can also inspect records by visiting the custodian's office during regular business hours. In some cases, public records may also be obtainable via an online open database maintained by the agency.

Note: Incarcerated citizens who wish to obtain public records can do so through their lawyer. 

Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in Arkansas?

You don't need to state your purpose when requesting public records. Nothing in Arkansas's public record laws requires that you explain the motive behind your decision to obtain records. The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act also places no restrictions on what you can do with records after they've been obtained. That said, depending on the record, a custodian might ask that you provide a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport, to confirm your citizenship and eligibility. If you're requesting copies of a record, you may also need to provide your resident address (or the location where the records will be sent). 

What Records are Public in Arkansas?

Multiple records are open to the public, including criminal, inmate, bankruptcy, court, and sex offender information. However, you'll need to contact the right office to obtain records. While residents can access some records at the state level, others may only be available at local county or city agencies.

Arkansas Public Court Records

Arkansas court records consist of all records, documents, and information filed or created during proceedings across the district and circuit courts. These may include case files, injunctions, summons, docket sheets, court decrees, and calendars. Appointed clerks of the courts generally maintain Arkansas court records. Some records may be obtainable via online search databases and mail, while others might require an in-person visit to the court locations.

Arkansas court records generally contain information such as:

  • Claims and counterclaims
  • Information on court summonses 
  • List of case filings 
  • Miscellaneous documents related to the court case. 
  • Fines 
  • Final judgment or probationary conditions 
  • Subject's details
  • Names of legal representatives handling the case
  • Case type, status, number, type, and filing date
  • The hearing date and location

Note: Per state laws, court clerks may redact or seal confidential portions of a record if it contains protected information. 

Arkansas Public Criminal Records

Arkansas criminal records contain details about crimes and convictions imposed for criminal offenses. Some of this information may be open to the public, such as a summary of arrests, charges arising from the arrests, and history of convictions. Criminal records may typically include mugshots, fingerprints, and physical descriptors.

To obtain criminal records in Arkansas, you must provide the record custodian with enough specific information to process a search, such as the individual's name or a case ID. Residents can look up criminal records using the online public access portal maintained by the Arkansas Judiciary. Record seekers with consent from a subject can also perform third-party searches through the Arkansas State Police. However, this check will cost a fee. 

Arkansas State Police,

One State Police Plaza Dr,

Little Rock, AR 72209,

501-618-8000

Arkansas Public Arrest Records

Arrest records are official documents that provide information about individuals arrested in a state. Some of the details that can be found in a record include the arrestee's name, physical description, fingerprints, and date of birth. Records also typically include details related to the arrest such as the date of the arrest, the charges, the name of the arresting officer, and the location.

Arkansas arrest records fall under the umbrella of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which means members of the public can access them. However, some records may be closed to public view, where restricted or exempted by law. To obtain Arkansas records, you'll need to provide the subject's full name (if possible) as well as any other identifying information.

Note: Arrest records aren't proof of conviction. Although arrest records show that the subject was suspected of a crime, it does not prove that the individual committed the crime. 

Arkansas Public Bankruptcy Records

Arkansas bankruptcy records contain financial information about subjects who have filed for bankruptcy in the state. Under the Freedom of Information Act, such records are considered open and can be accessed by almost anyone. Some of the information contained in public bankruptcy records includes the list of creditors, the debtor's source of income, and the chapter under which the action was filed.

Bankruptcy falls under the oversight of the United States Bankruptcy Courts (Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas). As such, members of the public can search through records using the federal (Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Records of cases filed between 1996 and 2001 may be accessible at the National Archives and Records Administration Federal Records Center (FRC). Alternatively, requesters may be able to obtain copies of a record by visiting the court location.

Little Rock

U.S. Bankruptcy Court

300 W. 2nd Street

Little Rock, AR 72201

501-918-5500

 

Fayetteville

U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Divisional Office

35 E. Mountain Street, Room 316

Fayetteville, AR 72701

479-582-9800

Arkansas Public Inmate Records

Inmate records provide details about offenders held in correctional facilities in the state. Per Arkansas public record laws, some of this information is accessible. For instance, public records may include: 

  • The inmate's name
  • Race and date of birth
  • Date of incarceration
  • A summary of the inmate's crimes and location.

Some records may also include mugshots and any known aliases. Residents can access these records using remote online tools or by contacting the custodial correctional facility.

To look up Arkansas public inmate records, you'll need to identify if the state or county is holding the subject. Depending on the crime, inmates may be held in federal prisons, state correctional facilities, or facilities maintained by cities or counties. You'll also need to have at least the first or last name of the inmate or a department number (if known). 

Arkansas Department of Correction,
6814 Princeton Pike, 
Pine Bluff, AR 71602-9411

Note: To access records of inmates held in federal prisons or county facilities, you'll need to contact the Bureau of Prisons or the respective County Sheriff.

Arkansas Public Sex Offender Information

In compliance with the Arkansas Sex Offender Registration, the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) provides access to public sex offender information via an online registry. It contains details of individuals who have been convicted of sexual offenses, such as the offender's name, aliases, age, sex, physical descriptors, address, and offense. The database may also include a mugshot and driver's license. 

To search for offenders using the registry, you must have either the offender's first or last name. Alternatively, you can search for offenders located within a geolocation utilizing a street name, city, and zip code.

Arkansas Crime Information Center

322 S. Main Street, Ste. 615

Little Rock, AR 72201,

501-682-2222.

Note: The Arkansas sex offender registry does not contain a list of all sex offenders. It only provides information on offenders who are categorized as "moderate risk," "high risk," or "sexually violent predators." Low-risk offenders are not included. 

Arkansas Public Property Records

Public property records in Arkansas typically include information related to real estate and property ownership, such as the names of current and previous owners, the physical address of the property, and any property tax assessment details. Most of the information falls under the umbrella of public records, so they're largely open to the public. 

Property records are typically maintained at the county level by the County Recorder's Office. To find Arkansas property records, you'll need specific details about the property owner or property, such as the parcel number or tax ID, the owner's full name, or details about the deed associated with the property. 

Arkansas Public Birth Records

Arkansas birth records provide information on births in the state. The Arkansas Department of Health Vital Records Division serves as the state's primary custodian for birth records. To obtain copies of a birth record from the division, you must provide your details and a valid government-issued ID, such as a valid driver's license or US passport. Applicants must also provide a document that shows proof of relationship and attests to their eligibility to pick the document. 

Arkansas Department of Health

4815 West Markham Street

Little Rock, AR 72205

Note: In Arkansas, birth records only become accessible to the public after a fixed period. Until this transition occurs, records can only be obtained by authorized persons, namely:

  • Persons named on the record
  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Parents or Guardians
  • Children or Grandchildren
  • Designated attorney

Arkansas Public Death Records

Arkansas death records are documents that contain details of deaths in the state. These records fall under the oversight of the Arkansas Department of Health Vital Records Division. The division maintains records of deaths in the state dating back to February 1914.

To obtain copies of a record, you must provide your full name, date of birth, phone number, and details of your primary residence. You'll also need to state your relationship to the decedent as well as provide some information to assist with the search, such as:

  • The date of death on the certificate
  • The listed gender
  • The decedent's date of birth 
  • Name of city and county where the record was created

Death records typically cost $10 for the first copy and $8 for each additional copy obtained with the same application. Most requests take seven to 14 business days to process. However, the exact time varies, depending on how long the custodian takes to find the records and the volume of the request. 

Arkansas Public Marriage Records 

Marriage records are maintained by the Arkansas Department of Health's Vital Records Division. The department maintains records dating back to 1917. Some of the information that may be contained in a record includes the names of the spouses, witnesses, and the location of the union.

To obtain copies of a marriage record, you'll need to provide the record custodian with some specific information about the marriage, such as the date and place of the marriage and the names of both parties in the marriage. You'll also need to provide an address where the records will be sent.

Requests can be submitted online, by mail, or directly at the office:

Arkansas Department of Health,    

 Vital Records, Slot 44,

 4815 West Markham Street,

 Little Rock, AR 72205

Certified copies of a married record can also be obtained from the County Clerk in the county where the license was issued.

Note: Under Arkansas law, vital records can only be accessed after 100 years. Until this period, records may only be accessed by married couples and individuals related to them, such as their children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents. 

Arkansas Public Divorce Records

Divorce records contain information on marriage dissolutions granted in Arkansas. Such records can be accessed by eligible parties, namely the spouse or registered domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents.

Multiple agencies maintain divorce records in Arkansas. At the state level, the Arkansas Department of Health (Vital Records Division) serves as the central repository for divorce records and issues confirmation certificates. However, residents can obtain fully certified copies of divorce records by submitting an application to the circuit clerk or Chancery clerk where the divorce was granted.

To obtain divorce records from the Department of Health, you'll be required to provide the name of the spouses (prior to divorce), the date of the events, and the county holding the divorce certificate. In addition, you'll need to provide a valid driver's license (or two forms of alternate ID) as well as documents that attest to your eligibility to obtain records. 

 Arkansas Department of Health

 Vital Records, Slot 44

 4815 West Markham Street

 Little Rock, AR 72205

Note: The Arkansas Department of Health's Vital Records Division only maintains divorce records from 1917.

What is Exempted Under the Arkansas Public Records Act?

Although the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act covers most records, it provides some provisions where exceptions are permitted. The following are examples of records or information that may be exempt from public disclosure.

  • Records containing state income tax.
  • Information containing personal records, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
  • Law enforcement files on ongoing investigations.
  • Records related to issuing or revoking a concealed handgun license.
  • Records containing unpublished drafts of judicial decisions and opinions.
  • Files that may reveal the identities of law enforcement officers working undercover with their agencies
  • Data with home addresses of non-elected state, municipal, or county employees.
  • Records containing education records, adoption records, or medical records.
  • Records sealed or protected from disclosure by the rule of court. 

How Do I Find Public Records in Arkansas?

To find public records in Arkansas, you'll need to identify the agency in charge of records first. Although public records can generally be obtained in person, over the phone, by mail, or electronically, the exact means of access varies with different public agencies. Some agencies may permit all four options, while others may provide less.

Step 2. Collect Your Information 

Next, you'll need to ensure that you have sufficient information to submit a request. According to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, any request must be "sufficiently specific" so custodians can locate the records with "reasonable effort."

Step 3. Submit a Request and Pay the Fees

Finally, contact the record custodian and apply to inspect or obtain copies of a record. When requesting records with no fixed cost, a cost estimate is usually included in the response to the initial request if the request is not denied. Requesters should then pay fees in the acceptable medium. Upon receipt of payment, the custodian will provide the requested record.

Can I Find Free Public Records in Arkansas Using Third-Party Sites?

Record seekers may be able to find Public Records for free in Arizona using third-party sites. These sites have databases that aggregate and store data compiled from multiple states. When sourcing for free Public Records on a third-party site, consider that:

  • Sites may offer limited Information and depth.
  • Third-party sites may only offer general information such as names and addresses (these may be available for free on government sites)
  • Free Public Records from third-party sites may possess accuracy, restrictions, and use violation issues.

Note: Always verify records from third-party sites through official government channels if the information is for significant use.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, the fee for public records will depend on a mix of factors, such as the type of record and the length of time it takes to find the record. Under state laws (A.C.A. § 25-19-105), public agencies are permitted to set a fee for obtaining records as long as the fee does not "exceed the actual costs of reproduction." Record custodians are also allowed to charge a fee that covers the cost of transmitting, mailing, or delivering the record.

Most agencies will send an estimate with an itemized breakdown of charges before beginning a records search. If the estimated fee is more than $25.00, you must pay the fee in advance. However, not all records come with a fee. Public agencies may waive the fee if the custodian establishes that requested records will be used for noncommercial purposes, like research.

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

Under Arkansas's public records law, all records must be available upon request within three business days, except where found to be in active use or storage. However, custodians may reject requests for a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • Ongoing investigations
  • Litigation
  • National security
  • Executive privilege
  • Statutory exemption.
  • Privacy Rights
  • Legal privileges
  • Security concerns
  • Trade secrets

If a request is refused, your first step should be to confirm the reason. A reason and a cited law commonly accompany rejections. Sometimes, applicants can quickly address a refusal by addressing the reasons. However, if this is not possible, you could consider filing an appeal with the nearest circuit court.

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Arkansas Public Records