The idea behind public records is that they contain information which can be accessed by any member of the public directly at virtually any time. However, things are often not as straightforward as we would like them to be. It may be difficult or even impossible to access some details either due to technical factors, legal reasons or both. You should be aware of the different ways in which records can be reached and of the amount of information which you can obtain from them.
Access Options
Most public records such as birth, death, marriage and divorce records can be accessed directly. When you use an online database or search index, you simply need to enter the name of the person and any documents containing it will show up. The online sex offender registries have become quite common as well. You can search them by area and by name as well. The same applies to the online arrest records.
Criminal records, which contain information on offenses, convictions, charges and arrests, can also be accessed online. However, this does not happen directly. You will have to register with the respective authority in order to gain access to its database. This can also be done online. In most cases, you will have to present a valid reason for the search in order to get registered for using the service.
In cases, when the public records are not available online, you will have to visit the office of the authority that keeps them to gain access to the documents. It is also possible to request copies to be sent over the mail. This will cost you a small fee.
Information Availability
It is possible for certain pieces of information which you are looking for to be inaccessible via the public records. This can happen for all sorts of reasons. For example, the birth records of adopted children may be kept confidential for legal reasons. Similarly, even though marriage licenses and certificates are generally public, the couple may be legally allowed to make them inaccessible to anyone else apart from the authorities. This is usually an option with divorce degrees as well.
There are various cases in which certain details can be erased from the public criminal records. Some or all of the information about a person can be kept classified due to ongoing investigation. It is also possible for minor offenses to be deleted after a set period of time. If a person has got arrested, but the charges have been dropped, the event may not be account for.
Use what you have learned to get access to as much information in the public records as possible.