Oklahoma Court Records
Are Oklahoma Records Public?
Under the Oklahoma Public Records Act (OPRA), most of the government records maintained by public agencies are public. According to the Act, anyone may inspect or request public documents and records. Records include (but are not limited to) any paper, photograph, book, microfilm, or data file created, received, or maintained by public bodies while conducting general business. This means you can request records from state departments, agencies, commissions, boards, and most entities created by a trust, town, city, or county. Some of the commonly requested records in Oklahoma include inmate records, vital records, court records, and criminal records.
Note: Records of nongovernmental bodies may also be public. OPRA covers any entity or organization "..supported in whole or in part by public funds."
Who Can Access Oklahoma Public Records?
Anyone can access Oklahoma public records, including residents and non-residents. The Oklahoma Public Record Act does not restrict who may or may not obtain records. It also does not restrict access based on the requester's purpose or intended future use. However, you'll need to contact the specific agency in charge of the record to obtain a public record. Although the law states that public agencies must provide "prompt, reasonable access," the time to process a request varies depending on how long it takes to locate, compile, and create the records.
Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in Oklahoma?
A statement of purpose isn't required when requesting public records in Oklahoma. Still, most agencies will ask for some information to determine if a record will be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes. That's because, per state laws, applicants must pay a search fee for any record request that will be used for commercial purposes.
To obtain copies, you submit a clear request that correctly describes the record. In-person requests must be made during regular business hours, while mailed-in requests must be sent to the right agency. Depending on the type of record or the agency, you may need to provide a copy of a government-issued ID, such as a US passport, driver's license, or military ID. Public agencies may also charge a fee to cover the cost of making copies.
What Records are Public in Oklahoma?
According to the Oklahoma Public Record Act, any record (regardless of form) that is created, received, or maintained by public bodies or public officials during the conduct of public business is considered public. In addition, all records available for inspection may also be copied. This includes all forms of physical records, such as paper, files, and documents. Some of the commonly requested records in Oklahoma include inmate records, vital records, court records, property records, sex offender information, criminal records, and bankruptcy records.
Note: Public records include electronic records, or "data files created or used with computer software."
Oklahoma Public Criminal Records
Oklahoma criminal records provide information on arrests and convictions in the state. Per the OPRA, this information is public and can be accessed by the public. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) serves as the state's primary repository for criminal records.
To obtain criminal records from the Bureau, you must provide the subject's full name and date of birth. Other useful details that can assist a search include the subject's nickname or maiden name. Requests can be submitted in person, by mail, or online. The office opens for in-person requests from Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mailed requests for criminal histories should be sent to the following addresses:
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
6600 N. Harvey
Oklahoma City, OK 73116,
(405) 879-2503 FAX
Oklahoma Public Arrest Records
The OPRA provides that certain arrest information maintained by a law enforcement agency must be made open to the public. This includes details such as the arrested individual's name, sex, physical description, and occupation. Public Oklahoma arrest records may also include:
- The reason for the arrest
- The name of the arresting officer(s)
- A summary of what transpired.
You can obtain arrest records by contacting the law enforcement agency in charge of maintaining the information, such as county sheriffs, city police departments, or the OSBI.
Note: In Oklahoma, law enforcement records are generally considered confidential, except where specified by the Open Records Act, such as with arrest records.
Oklahoma Public Inmate Records
Anyone can access Oklahoma inmate records. Maintained by state, county, and federal agencies, these records provide details about an inmate's incarceration and conviction status. Some of the information that may be contained on an inmate record includes the inmate's full name, a mugshot, details of the charges and offense, and information on an inmate's sentence or release.
To look up public Oklahoma inmate records, you'll need to have some related information about the registrant, such as the first and last name of the offender, the offender's date of birth, and the offender's number if known. You'll also need to correctly identify if the inmate is being held in a correctional facility maintained by the state, federal government, or county authorities.
Note: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections maintains records of inmates housed in state facilities, while records of offenders in federal or county facilities fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons or the respective county sheriff's office.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
3400 North Martin Luther King Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73111-4298
PO Box 11400
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-0400
Oklahoma Public Sex Offender Information
According to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act, sex offender information falls under the umbrella of public records. The Act mandates the compulsory registration of anyone convicted of "habitual or aggravated" sex crimes in the state. Members of the public can obtain sex offender information using the online Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, which is maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Correction and updated daily.
To obtain sex offender information using the search registry, you must specify a first name, last name, address, city, and county. Searches can also be done using criteria such as appearance, offense, or a specific map location.
Oklahoma Public Birth Records
Under Oklahoma state laws, access to public birth records is determined by the age of the record. While recently filed birth records are not open to the public, older records are considered open and accessible to the public. Records can be obtained by submitting an application to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which has served as the main repository of records since 1908.
To obtain a certified birth record, you'll need to provide a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a US-issued driver's license, US passport, or an Oklahoma DOC photo ID. Certified copies of a birth record can only be obtained by eligible parties, namely persons with a direct relationship to the registrant, such as a spouse, sibling, parent, or grandparent. You'll also need to pay the required fee. The department charges up to $15 for the first certified copy and $15 for each additional copy. Applications can be submitted by mail, phone, or online.
Vital Records Service
Oklahoma State Department of Health
PO Box 248964
Oklahoma City, OK 73124-8964
Oklahoma Public Death Records
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has maintained records of deaths in the state from 1908 till today. However, access to these records will depend on a mix of factors, such as the age of the record and your relationship with the decedent. Generally, death records older than 50 years are open to inspection. However, recently filed death records are not considered public. To obtain recently filed public death records, you must be a surviving spouse, parent, child, grandparent, sibling, or legal guardian. You'll also be required to submit a completed application along with one or more valid IDs. Applications can be submitted by mail, online, or in person.
Vital Records Service
Oklahoma State Department of Health
PO Box 248964
Oklahoma City, OK 73124-8964
Oklahoma Public Marriage Records
Oklahoma marriage records are generally open to the public. Anyone can obtain copies of a record by submitting a request to the court clerk in the county where the marriage license was granted. Some of the information that may be contained in a marriage record includes the names of the couple, the date and place of marriage, and the names of witnesses. Requests can be submitted by mail or in person. You'll also need to provide enough information for the search and pay to cover the cost of making copies.
Oklahoma Public Divorce Records
Public Oklahoma divorce records provide legal information about marriage dissolutions. They include details such as the date and location of the divorce, grounds for divorce, the names of the parties, and details of any settlement or granted support. Copies of a divorce record can only be obtained at the courthouse that granted the divorce. In addition to in-person requests, most courts permit applicants to submit requests via mail. The length of time required to process a request will depend on factors such as the age of the record.
Note: While divorce records are generally accessible, the amount of open information available may vary on a case-by-case basis.
Oklahoma Public Court Records
Court records in Oklahoma comprise documents and information generated during legal proceedings across the district courts and municipal courts. Some examples of court records include the following:
- Court orders
- Court dockets
- Case files
To obtain court records, you'll need to provide enough information to assist with the search, such as the name of registrants or a case number. A court-appointed clerk typically receives and processes requests for court records. Depending on the court and the type of record, some records may be available online in-person, via mail, or using the court-case search tool maintained by the Oklahoma State Court Network.
Oklahoma Public Bankruptcy Records
Bankruptcy records contain detailed information about individuals or companies filing for bankruptcy. Per the Freedom of Information Act, this information is considered public and can be accessed by almost anyone. Some of the information that you may find in a bankruptcy record includes:
- The list of creditors and the amount owed to each creditor
- The assets of the individual who filed for bankruptcy
- The bankrupt's gross income and sources of income
Oklahoma bankruptcy records are governed by federal law and, therefore, fall under the purview of federal bankruptcy courts, which are divided into three main districts:
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Eastern District of Oklahoma
101 N. 5th Street, Room 403
P. O. Box 1888,
Muskogee, OK 74402
United States Bankruptcy Court
Western District of Oklahoma
215 Dean A McGee Ave, Ste 147
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
United States Bankruptcy Court
Northern District of Oklahoma
224 S. Boulder Ave. Suite 105
Tulsa, OK 74103
You can obtain copies of a public bankruptcy record using public terminals located at the court clerk's office during regular business hours from Monday to Friday. But although viewing and inspections are free, you'll be made to pay a fee for any copies. Documents may also be accessible online using the court's PACER system.
Oklahoma Public Property Records
Oklahoma property records are open to the public. These records contain information related to land or real property within Oklahoma. Some of the information that may be found on property records include the name of the current owner, annual taxes, date of last sale, assessed value, and purchase price. When searching for public records, you'll need to provide some information, such as the owner's full name or the property's exact location.
What is Exempted Under the Oklahoma Open Records Act?
While the Oklahoma Open Records Act mandates that all records of public bodies and officials must be open to inspection, it makes provisions for some discretionary exemptions. Generally, records containing protected, sealed, or confidential information are not accessible. Some examples include but are not limited to the following:
- Personnel records that would lead to an unwarranted invasion of privacy, such as telephone numbers or home addresses.
- Law enforcement records related to things like training or tactical procedures.
- Records containing test questions and answers used for state licensure examinations.
- Driver records containing personal information.
- Records that contain information protected by attorney-client privilege.
- Records containing social security numbers.
- Market research and marketing plans, the release of which would cause unfair advantage to competitors.
- Records of ongoing litigation and investigations.
- All records about donors.
- Educational records and materials such as teacher lesson plans, student records, and personal communication about individual students.
- Any information connected to the investigation, deterrence, prevention, or protection from an act or threat of terrorism.
How Do I Find Public Records in Oklahoma?
Under Oklahoma law, anyone can obtain public records. Although the process of obtaining information varies depending on the record, you can find public records in Oklahoma by following several general steps.
Step 1. Identify the Record Custodian
Requests for public records in Oklahoma must be sent directly to the agency responsible for maintaining the record. For instance, birth records can only be obtained from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, while divorce records can only be found at the court where the decree was issued.
Step 2. Collect Record Information
Gather as much information as possible connected to the records. To find your records, public agencies require specific data connected with the sought document, such as a case number, the name of the parties on the record, or the filing date. Providing enough information will also help reduce the time it takes to search, identify, and compile a record.
Step 3. Contact the Agency Responsible for Such Records
The final step to obtaining records is contacting the respective agency in charge of maintaining records. Some records may also be available through local agencies. For instance, real estate and law enforcement records are available at the Clerk’s Office and Sheriff’s Office of the appropriate county. You may also need to pay a fee to assign copies.
Can I Find Free Public Records in Oklahoma Using Third-Party Sites?
Public records may be accessible via third-party sites. However, records' accuracy tends to vary depending on where the record was created, the type of record, and the date of creation. Most third-party sites are unaffiliated or unendorsed by specific Oklahoma government agencies. Instead, the records are compiled from multiple jurisdictions, including counties and cities outside Oklahoma. To find free public records in Oklahoma using third-party platforms, requesters must provide specific information to process the search, such as the registrant's name or an identification number.
How Much Do Public Records Cost in Oklahoma?
How much you pay for a public record in Oklahoma will depend on multiple factors, such as the type of record and whether the record is being used for a commercial purpose. In general, most public agencies do not charge a fee for inspecting a record in person. However, if you wish to obtain copies of a record, you may be required to cover the cost of compiling and making copies.
Government agencies typically charge a maximum of 25 cents per page for making copies of uncertified paper documents. In comparison, the cost of providing copies of electronic data varies but does not exceed the reasonable direct cost of the materials and labor required. In some cases, a search fee may be waived. However, this is only possible if the custodian determines that the release of the sought documents is in the public interest.
What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request
Record custodians deny public records requests for a variety of reasons. For instance, if a record contains confidential or protected information, an application may be refused. Your request may also be returned if you submit it to the wrong agency or if your application lacks sufficient information to identify the record.
Refusals typically come with a reason for the rejection. In some cases, you can rectify the situation and obtain records by immediately addressing the reason behind the rejection. However, in cases where applicants feel that an agency is illegally withholding records even after multiple applications, requesters have the right to file a denial of access appeal or file a case in court.