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Public Records Information – Glossary of Terms

When searching for an individuals public records information there are many terms and many different public records to look at and many without a clear definition. We have listed the following public records information glossary-of-terms to help you identify what you’re looking at and what each of the different public records mean. Each public record term below has a description next to it. If you click on the terms then you can begin your own public records search.

Arrest Records

  • A person’s arrest record includes arrests with and without a court conviction. These are also known as police arrest records.

Birth Records

  • Birth records -or- a birth certificate is a record that documents a child’s birth. Using someone’s birth record is a great way to verify someone’s identity and is useful to cross-reference against other identifying information to insure you’ve got the right person.

Background Checks

  • Background checks -or- background records are a group of public records that define a person’s past. Background checks may include; criminal records, public records, civil records, financial records, driving records, rental history and employment information of an individual

Civil Records

  • Civil records constitute a multitude of different records. There is the civil records registry where the government records vital events of it’s citizens such as; birth, death, marriage, divorce and adoption records. Secondly there are civil family court records that pertain to family matters of divorce, child support and child custody. Then there are civil records of a non-criminal nature where government agencies, such as the FTC, oversees and enforces penalties for violations of consumer rights.

Court Records

  • Court records refer to any recorded court information that pertain to a person’s appearance in court or trial. This can include felonies, misdemeanors, infractions,  convictions, sentencings, traffic offenses and most any related court record information.

Conviction Records

  • Conviction records are court records that  reflect a guilty conviction of a criminal nature. This can include felonies, misdemeanors, infractions and traffic offenses.

Criminal Records

  • A criminal record or police record is a record of a person’s criminal past. Criminal records may include records such as: arrest records, convictions, sentencings, traffic related offenses, court records, felonies, misdemeanors and infractions.

Death Records

  • A death record is a civil vital record that recognizes a person’s death. Death records can include; names of parents, siblings, children and spouse, birth and marriage information, occupation, military record and cause of death.

Divorce Records

  • A divorce record is documentation of a legal separation between married partners.

Driving Records

  • Driving records or driving abstracts contain a multitude of information about a person’s driving history. This information varies by state but may include; driver information, length of time with a driver’s license, traffic offenses, points on driving record, state in which the driver is licensed.

DUI / DWI Records

  • Driving Under the Influence -or- Driving While Intoxicated are criminal records in which a driver has been convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Freedom Of Information Act

  • The Freedom Of Information Act ( FOIA ) was passed in 1966 by President LBJ. This act made government collected information, of it’s citizens, public domain. This means that most any public record is publicly available for anyone to see.

Genealogy Records

  • Genealogy records, also known as a family history, is a record of a person’s lineage. These records may include birth and death records as well as marriage and divorce records.  The US government keeps a civil records registry that is public domain and often used to search genealogy records.

Government Records

  • Government records refer to publicly available information that is collected by the government in the United States. The FOIA makes it possible for most government collected information on it’s citizens to be publicly available.

Incarceration Records

  • Incarceration records are records of imprisonment of those people that have been convicted and sentenced in a court of law. These records may include; criminal records, court records, sentencing records, conviction records, prison and jail records.

Inmate Records

  • Inmate records are records of a person’s imprisonment and may include; criminal history, court sentencings, prison and jail records.

Jail Records

  • Jail records are a person’s record of serving time in jail. Jail records may include, police arresting records, court records, driving records and criminal history.

Judgment Records

  • Judgement records are court records which resulted from a court’s decision regarding the rights and liabilities of parties in a legal proceeding.

Lien Records

  • A lien record is a documentation of a creditor placing a legal claim on a person’s assets. This usually signifies a debt that was not paid and negatively effects a person’s credit score.

Marriage Records

  • A marriage record is an official certification that two people are married. Marriage records are usually validated with a marriage certificate, these may vary depending on what state they’re issued in.

Naturalization Records

  • Naturalization records are legal documentation of a non-citizen becoming a citizen.

Nationalization Records

  • See Naturalization Records. The terms are synonymous.

Prison Records

  • Prison records are an inmates record of serving prison time. Prisons, also known as penitentiaries, are divided into state prisons and federal prisons. Depending on the nature and location of the committed crime, the guilty will serve time in a either a federal prison or state prison.

Probation Records

  • A probation record is a criminal or police record that pertains to a person’s criminal past. Someone that is on probation is being observed after a criminal offense to insure their good behavior.

Public Records

  • Public records information refers to publicly available information that is collected by government agencies. The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 made most government public records information available to the general public.

Warrant Records

  • A warrant record -or- arrest warrant record is documentation from a judge or court for the arrest or detainment on an individual.


Tips For Searching Public Records Information

  • Know the person’s first and last name, correct spellings
  • Know the current residence of the person in question
  • Know alternative forms of identification such as: birth date, residence, marriage status

There are many people in the United States with similar names so make sure you have as much information as possible when performing a public records information search so that you are finding the correct record for the correct person. Click here to try our Public Records Information Search


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