How to Do a Public Records Search
With so much information available at the click of a mouse, it seems like conducting a public records search should be easy. But if youíre only searching Google, you may be missing a valuable opportunity to find information online. Below are a few sites where you can access public information for little to no cost.
Try Free Sites First
Popular search engine Google is still the first place to start when doing a public records search. Be sure to put your search terms in quotes, which will cause the search engine to look only for instances where multiple words appear together. Include any relevant information, trying several variations of your search terms to see if you get the desired results.
In your public records search, if youíre trying to obtain criminal records on a particular person, court records are public and some cities even put them online. This information wonít always show up in a Google search, so track down the criminal courts for the area in which the person lives. This can be time-consuming and difficult, especially if you donít know all of the cities where the person might have previously lived. But try this free method before taking on a paid criminal background search.
For other public records, try researching other directory sites. These sites attempt to put all information in one place. Locate your state and the sites will give you links to various sites where you can obtain birth, death, marriage, census, and divorce records. These links will usually take you to the local vital records offices, where you can request information on a particular individual.
Public Records Search Sites That Charge
Government records sites are a great resource for conducting a public records search on deceased individuals. Obtain birth and death certificates, as well as marriage information. Much of this information is historical, however, so if youíre looking for recent information, youíll want to check more up-to-date sites. Also, be aware that while a search is free, youíll have to pay to go beyond the search results page.
Many government directories allow you to search obituary and cemetery records throughout the United States. The site has a free seven-day trial, but after that first week thereís a charge, so this is ideal for someone who is interested in genealogy.
Various sites that you have to pay for records offer extensive records. Enter your name and watch your age and relatives pop up. Luckily for most people, the information isnít always up-to-date, especially for those who no longer have published home telephone numbers. These sites arenít always free but before you pay, this page will tell you the personís name, age, cities of residence for the past ten or twenty years, and possible relations. It often even lists the personís father, mother, spouses, and children. Once youíve determined the person is the one youíre looking for, youíll click through to a page asking you to pay for such information as full name, address, phone number, and up to a 40-year address history. For a higher fee, you can get a background report on the person that the site states will include property records, sex offender check, criminal background check, bankruptcies, marriages and divorces, and more.
If youíre conducting a public records search, check out the free sites first, and then progress to paying for information. Even with paying sites, you may be able to get the information you need without paying a dime, thanks to free trials.
Finding Free Public Court Records
The information is public information, open for inspection to anyone who requests, so why is it so hard to find online? For those looking to find free public court records, here are a few useful tips to finding them that might save you some time.
Seek Out Local Government Websites
Your blind dateís arrest record likely wonít show up in a Google search. But you donít have to have his or her social security number or even in-depth information to conduct a search. Just have the first and last name, along with the city, of the person whose court records youíre seeking out and start looking.
You can start with Google, of course, but donít expect to find full information that easily. For best results, put the personís first and last name in quotes and include city and state outside those quotes. Try a variety of search combinations, using any identifying information you know, until you get the desired results.
To find free public court records for the personís city, search for the city name with the words ďcourt recordsĒ after. If the person lives in Omaha, Nebraska, for instance, try a search for Omaha court records. If possible, seek out official state or city websites. This will steer you toward free sites.
All in One Place
Large content sites offer all the free public records in one place. Simply click on your state and links to free public court records are listed. Everything from property records to sex offenders is listed in this database. A word of caution: you do need to conduct some research when using commercial pay sites. Many sites claim to offer free public court records and then force you to pay to access the records.
For Your Safety
For victims of crimes looking to be notified when an offender is released, some commercial and governmental sites provide this service for free. Simply register and you can be updated about an offenderís activities by phone, e-mail, or over the Internet. These sites also provide links to local victim resources for each area, including contact information for social services, information about the parole board, and links to sites that may be able to help victims, like local domestic violence hotline numbers.
For a more comprehensive background check, however, youíll likely want to go with a paying service. Many search sites have plenty of user reviews and professional reviews that help you determine your best option. This service provides basic information on a person for free, but for more detailed information, youíll have to pay between $30-$40 per report. While this is certainly not free public court records, itís a detailed criminal history that includes tax liens, bankruptcies, civil judgments, and lawsuits for much less than many would think a comprehensive background check would cost.
If youíre looking for free public court records, your search can be time-consuming and frustrating. By knowing how to search and where to look, however, you can find the information you need without breaking your budget.