Are Indiana Records Public?
Indiana public records are mostly non-confidentiality records accessible to all state residents and non-residents. The Indiana Public Records Law defines and sets the procedure for obtaining Indiana public records. Furthermore, it outlines the function and responsibilities of record custodians in maintaining and issuing copies of documents to the general public. Per the IC 5-14-3-2, Indiana public records are all data or information generated or maintained by a government agency, board, division, department, bureau, or commission. Public records in Indiana include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Indiana public arrest records
- Indiana accident logs
- Indiana sex offender information
- Indiana public court records
- Indiana divorce records
- Indiana marriage records
- Indiana inmate records.
- Criminal records and criminal history records
According to the Indiana Public Records Law, public records in Indiana encompasses any writing study, map, report, memoranda, tape recording, book, charters, or any material created, retained, or filed with a public agency. In addition, SMS, emails, and drafts are classified as public records in Indiana. The Indiana Public Records Law empowers public members to request, inspect, and get copies of public records from the respective custodian agency. Hence, a person can make a Public Records Law request to inspect or obtain copies of records online, in person, in writing, or by telephone. Nevertheless, the public records law redacts and withholds certain information from public access for confidentiality and privacy reasons. To this effect, a record official's personal mail and notes are mostly excluded from public disclosure. Generally, agencies may charge a record seeker a fee to copy public records, but a free public data search is available for those who just want to view such records.
Who Can Access Indiana Public Records?
All persons, including corporations, associations, limited liability businesses, government bodies, partnerships, and associations, can access Indiana public records IC 5-14-3-3. For instance, an employer can access public records in Indiana to run a background check on a prospective or current employee. Interested public members can access public records from custodian agencies during regular business hours or within a timeframe specified by the agency. The record agency, in turn, must provide the requested files via any preferred medium - online, mail, or in-person. Sometimes, state agencies may adopt the IC 4-22-2 to prevent requesters from utilizing the record for commercial purposes.
Furthermore, record agencies may restrict certain confidential information to only the record subject or other stakeholders in the public records. The Indiana arrest or criminal record is an example of this action - Indiana law enforcement agencies may restrict public records to only the record subject and crime victims.
What is Exempted Under Indiana Public Records Law?
The Indiana Public Records Law excludes certain portions or whole documents from public disclosure. Access to some records, especially vital records, is only restricted to authorized persons with a direct familial or legal interest in the record. Under the state law, the following records are not available for public access:
Confidential List of Names and Addresses
Under IC 4-22-2, record custodians in Indiana may restrict disclosing a list of names and addresses to any record seeker for political purposes. In addition to this, agencies also prohibit commercial entities from using the indexes and addresses for commercial purposes. Under the section, the following lists are restricted to political use or commercial purposes:
- The list and addresses of employees in a public agency;
- A list of conference attendees at a state educational institution;
- List of students enrolled in a public education institution;
- The state law applies the restriction to all commercial entities without discrimination.
Law Enforcement Investigation Files
Law investigatory files are primarily exempt from public disclosure. However, specific law enforcement records are open for inspection and copying. Law enforcement agencies generally withhold documents that feature the following information:
- The identity of primary and minor witnesses to a crime or violation of the state statutes;
- Juvenile offenders' arrest records and criminal records;
- Law enforcement investigative techniques and strategies;
Personnel Files and Data
A public official's personal diary or notes are mostly exempt and are not under public records. Generally, all personnel records are not publicly accessible, except for the following:
- Employee's business address, job description, training background and education, previous work experience, and business email address;
- Information on a disciplinary action that led to the suspension or discharge of a public employee.
Proprietary Software and Systems
According to Indiana public records law, computer codes, filing systems, and other proprietary software owned by a public agency are exempt from public view.
Data That May Violate a Record Bearer's Privacy
Indiana public records law excludes specific data that might violate an individual's privacy, and this may cover the following records:
- Medical records and charts provided by a health provider to a public agency (However, this data becomes publicly accessible after the record subject gives a written consent);
- A video recording or photograph of an autopsy procedure;
- Social security numbers in the custody of a record custodian;
- An individual's test scores, unless the person provides a written consent;
- A record bearer's financial information, such as tax reports, account balance sheets, and assets, is provided upon request by a custodian agency.
Interagency or Intra-agency Materials
This covers all materials used for the sole purpose of government agencies’ decision-making. Furthermore, it covers all materials used by a private contractor under a contract with a custodian agency.
Indiana Public Records Law redacts information about an attorney's work with a public agency or individuals. All communication between an attorney or any other party is sealed and confidential under state laws.
Under the Indiana Public Records Law, trade secrets submitted to public agencies for licensing purposes are exempt from public disclosure. The exemption covers information that may lead to the loss of a business's competitive edge over other companies.
Where Can I Access Public Criminal Court Records in Indiana?
Record seekers may access public criminal court records in Indiana by contacting the Clerk of the Court in charge of the court case. In Indiana, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Clerk of the Supreme Court mostly handle all criminal court records requests. In contrast, the State Government maintains a centralized platform where record seekers can request and get copies of public records, including Indiana criminal court records. To access the court record, record seekers must fill an online request form by inputting the following details:
Once the record seekers have completed the online request form, the state's record facility employees will search for the request records and send them to the requester's mail address (if provided). On the other hand, record seekers may obtain Indiana criminal court records in person by visiting the Records Office at the address below:
1330 South Madison Avenue
In addition, record seekers may call (317) 327-4715 for same-day and urgent requests.
Similarly, Indiana courts host an online search platform where interested persons can obtain copies of court records. To get Indiana public criminal court records online, interested persons may use the following search tools:
Search by Case Number
Record seekers can access Indiana criminal court records by inputting the court case number or citation number for the preferred document. Furthermore, record seekers must select the type of court responsible for the court record.
Search by Name
The "Search by Name" option enables record seekers to obtain criminal court records via the record subject's name. To use this option, record seekers must input the record subject's full name and birth date or business name. In addition, requesters must choose "criminal & citation" as the case type and the court handling the case.
Search by Attorney
Requesters may use this option by filling out the attorney’s name in charge of the criminal case. In contrast, requesters may type in the Attorney's court ID number to access Indiana criminal court records.
How Do I Find Public Records in Indiana?
Record seekers can find public records in Indiana by contacting the designated record custodian for the document. For example, Indiana law enforcement agencies are the designated custodial for all arrest records, accident logs, and criminal records. In contrast, inmate records are maintained mainly by the Indiana Department of Corrections. That said, there are different ways of obtaining public records in Indiana. Nevertheless, record seekers can follow these general procedures to find public records in Indiana:
Know the Requirements for Accessing Public Documents in Indiana
Record seekers seeking to know how to access public records in Indiana must identify the specifics of the required record. To determine the requirements, record seekers must research the record custodian of the public document. Furthermore, requestors should note the requirements for getting such documents. For instance, requesters may need to provide a government-issued ID when accessing vital records in Indiana. In Indiana, the Vital Records Office will only issue copies of vital records to the record subject and other authorized persons.
Contact the Record Custodian in Charge of the Records
The Indiana Public Records Law mandates record custodians to maintain and issue copies of public documents to interested persons or entities, provided the records are not exempt under the state law. Thus, record seekers must contact the designated record custodians to obtain the necessary information. In addition, record seekers must note the agency's mode of issuing Indiana public records.
Custodian agencies in Indiana may have online or offline platforms where interested persons can access public documents. Sometimes, record custodians may only allow public inspection of the documents in their custody. That said, listed below are some of the custodian agencies in Indiana:
The Indiana Department of Corrections
Inmate records are obtainable via the Indiana Department of Corrections' online searchable portal. To access inmate records on the platform, record seekers may search using the offender's full name or inmate ID number.
Indiana Criminal Justice Institute
Established under the Indiana Department of Corrections, this record custodian oversees the state's sex and violent offenders registration. Furthermore, it maintains an online database where public members can access and view Indiana sex offenders’ information. Record seekers can view sex offender information by selecting the county where the offender resides.
Create and Send Request for Indiana Public Records
To get public records in Indiana, record seekers may write and send a request to a suitable record custodian. In some cases, record custodians may provide an online or downloadable request form template. In the absence of a specific request form, record seekers must write a request detailing the following data:
- The requester's full name
- The case number (this applies to court records);
- Preferred mode of delivery;
- Record seeker’s contact details;
- The record seeker’s full name and, or aliases;
- Purpose of the request - provide a detailed description of your request;
- Date range when the record was documented;
- The record subject's date of birth;
- Additional information to assist with the search.
Likewise, the Indiana Records Facility maintains an online request portal for obtaining most Indiana public records. The Records Facility is responsible for sending the filled-out form to the correct record custodian. In addition, it is responsible for shipping the requested documents to requesters. Record seekers may use the online request form by filling out these details:
- The type of information request;
- A clear description of the required record;
- Preferred method of obtaining the court record;
- Requester’s email address;
- Requester's full name and phone number.
Using Third-Party Sites to Find Public Records in Indiana
Some public records may also be accessible from third-party websites. These websites are not limited by geographic location and come with comprehensive search tools. Record seekers can use these sites to start a search for a specific record or multiple records. To use a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the document or person involved
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.
How Much Do Public Records Cost in Indiana?
Under IC 5-14-3-8, record custodians must not charge above 10 cents for a copy of a standard-sized public document. In contrast, according to the State’s public records law, a color copy of a public document must not exceed 25 cents.
In addition to this, state custodian bodies and other external agencies must not charge above $5 per document for certified public records. The state law requires agencies to consider the actual cost of paper and the per-page cost of using a printing or copying machine. Note that the mandated fees do not cover the labor or overall cost of procuring the documents.
On the other hand, record agencies will charge higher fees for obtaining copies of computer discs, tapes, hard drives, and other media used in storing public information.
How Do I Look Up Public Records for Free in Indiana?
Persons seeking to solve the question "where can I get public records for free in Indiana" may try out the following options:
First, some custodian agencies or departments allow requesters to inspect copies of public records documents via public computer terminals in their lobbies. For example, record seekers can view or review arrest records at the state's law enforcement agencies at no cost. Also, There is no charge to view documents at most Indiana County recorder’s offices. In Indiana, certain court cases, child abuse registry, and protection orders are publicly available and free for all public members. Through a government-maintained online database, interested persons may access the following records for free:
- Indiana child abuse registry
- Indiana protection orders
- Trial court calendars
- Indiana marriage licenses
- Indiana commercial court documents
- Record retention schedules
To get information on child abuse records, interested persons may search using the offender's name, birth date, or case number. Note that a free public records search can only be done online.
Through an online platform, the state also issues copies of marriage licenses to interested parties for free at the specific county clerk's office website where the marriage was solemnized. The online platform features marriage licenses from 1993 to the present. Record seekers may obtain marriage records on the search portal by inputting the following data:
- Both record subject's full names;
- The exact marriage year (requesters may also choose a time range when the event occurred);
- The county where the marriage event was recorded.
Do I Need to State My Purpose When Requesting Public Records in Indiana?
Per the Indiana Public Records Law, record seekers do not need to present a statement of purpose before accessing public records. However, custodian agencies may require some level of identification from requesters before providing access to public records in their custody.
What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?
Per Indiana Public Records Law, a person has the right to access public records maintained by state government agencies. Hence, a record seeker can conduct a public data search on anyone in the state. Record seekers in Indiana may file a denial of disclosure case in the Circuit or Indiana Superior Court when a custodian agency denies their request. Under the IC 5-14-3-9, a denial of disclosure occurs when a government agency denies an in-person request within 24 hours. On the other hand, a denial of disclosure for mail requests occurs seven days after the agency receives the request for public records.
Once the requester files an action with the court, the court will determine if the denial of disclosure aligns with the state statutes. Furthermore, the court will rule in favor of the requester if there's substantial proof that the denial of access is unfair or without legal reasons.
Besides winning the legal case, record seekers will get a refund for attorney's fees and other expenses of filing a court case. However, requesters may not receive compensation if they do not consult a public access counselor before filing a case with the court.
How to Remove Names From Public Records Search
Eligible individuals can remove their names from some public records search databases even if it is considered public by the Indiana Public Records Law through expungement. Most misdemeanors and felonies can be removed from state public records. While rare and highly complex, record subjects may be able to remove their information from public records using any of these options:
Record Removal After a Waiting Period
The Ind. Code § 35-38-9 authorizes the removal of the record subject's criminal records after a waiting period. However, this law does not apply to most serious sexual and violent offenses. After the specified waiting period, the state will remove the record from public access and prevent using records for any purpose.
Record subjects can apply to the sentencing court to seal records after fulfilling these criteria:
- Must have completed the court-imposed sentence;
- No suspended or expired driver’s license or pending criminal charges;
- Record bearer must have a conviction-free waiting period;
- Must not be convicted of certain offenses such as unlawful use of deadly weapons, sexual or violent offenses;
Note: the court may impose different waiting periods depending on the offense type. For example, the court imposes a one-year waiting period for non-conviction records and a five-year period for Class D felonies or misdemeanors. Conversely, record sealing occurs eight years after a conviction for other felonies.
Record Sealing for Juvenile Records
Record bearers can petition the juvenile court, a circuit, or an Indiana superior court to seal all juvenile criminal records. In turn, the court may consider the following factors before sealing juvenile records:
- The nature of the juvenile crime;
- The offender's current criminal records
- The juvenile case disposition.
Record Sealing for Victims of Human Trafficking
Ind. Code § 35-38-10-2 enables victims of human trafficking to file a petition with the court to seal their records.
Record Sealing for Pardoned Convictions
Following a pardoned conviction, record bearers can request to seal their records from public access.
What is the Best Public Record Search Database?
Local and state government agencies, departments, or offices are the best public record search database for all public records generated in Indiana. For this reason, interested persons or entities can obtain their preferred records from these record custodians. For example, the Indiana Department of Corrections is the best public record search database for all sex offender information in the state. In addition to providing access to Sex offender information, the Department of Corrections is also responsible for issuing Indiana public records in accordance with the Indiana Public Records Law.
At the county level, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office is the best public record search database for accessing sex offenders' information at the county level. Record seekers can seek and obtain sex offender information via the online search database. Similarly, the Lake County Health Department is the record custodian for vital records generated in the county. Record seekers can visit in person at the address provided below:
1145 West 5th Avenue
Gary, IN 46402
Phone: (219) 882-1113
On the other hand, Allen County Assessor's Office is the custodian of all property records in the county. The record custodian maintains an online searchable database where interested persons can access information on all properties within the county. To access property records on the online platform, record seekers must type in the parcel number and property address.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain Indiana Public Records?
A person can access public information maintained by any state or local agency in Indiana based on the provisions set forth in the Indiana Public Records Law. The mandates record custodians to respond to any public records act request within 24 hours if the request was via phone call or in person. On the other hand, record seekers must respond to email or mail requests within seven calendar days.
Is Public Data Search Safe?
Yes, especially if the Indiana Public Records Act permits the record obtained via the public data search to be inspected or obtained by members of the public. For instance, a person can safely conduct a free public data search on some records on any law enforcement agency website in Indiana. Therefore, there are no risks involved in using a public data search service as long as the records obtained are not used for political or commercial purposes. Also, individuals collecting public records must follow the processes outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to avoid liability claims, including lawsuits and other severe penalties.