Arkansas Public Records

Public records refer to any government-related files or recorded documents, historical data, reports, photographs, and other mediums of information. Public records are open and available for public inspection during reasonable business hours.

Local, state, and federal government agencies are responsible for creating, maintaining, and providing public record access. Each agency establishes regulations regarding public records, which must comply with state and federal law. Access, fees, delivery, and other policies can vary depending on the agency.

You can request public records in person, by email, postal mail, or online. It’s important to note that however you decide to request public records, there are exemptions, fees, and processing times. It can be simple or highly detailed and time-consuming. That’s why we have put together a comprehensive guide for public records in Arkansas, starting with the federal and state laws that define public records.

Which federal laws apply to public records in the United States?

Most states’ open records laws are based on the 1967 federal law signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson: the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Under the FOIA, all federal government agencies must allow the public access to records created, kept, or maintained by federal government agencies. Federal agencies must produce requested documents unless otherwise exempt by law. If exempt, the federal agency responsible must state the statute or law preventing the disclosure of information.

How does Arkansas law define public records?

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) delineates the state’s open records laws. The FOIA defines public records as any writing, video, or sound demonstrating the overall performance, or lack thereof, of an official function.

Only Arkansas citizens (which includes corporations) are allowed to inspect and copy the state’s public records. Arkansas is one of the few states in the country with this provision. The Arkansas FOIA states that the reason a citizen requests public records is irrelevant, and there is nothing in the FOIA that limits the use of information provided under the act.

According to the FOIA, a government agency has three business days to produce a requested record. The agencies responsible for maintaining the records can only charge the actual cost to reproduce and mail requested records.

Arkansas’s Attorney General, Arkansas Press Association, and other entities issue a “Freedom of Information Act Handbook” after every regular General Assembly session. The handbook helps Arkansas citizens understand the FOIA and assists government agencies in complying with the law. You can obtain a free copy from the Attorney General’s office by submitting a Presentation Request, sending an email, or calling 501-682-2007.

The Attorney General’s office also offers FOIA training webcasts to keep Arkansans informed and up-to-date on the law.

Exemptions

There are exemptions to the Arkansas FOIA. The following records are not public information:

  • Adoption records
  • Any Department of Human Services risk, emergency, or security assessment records
  • Arkansas Historic Preservation Program of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the Arkansas Archeological Survey files and records
  • Certain files and records maintained by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission would give bidders or competitors an advantage if disclosed.
  • Certain public water system records having to do with security
  • Computer security records
  • Court-ordered protected documents
  • Education records
  • Grand jury minutes
  • Medical records
  • Military service discharge records
  • Non-elected state employees, non-elected county employees, and non-elected municipal employees’ home addresses.
  • Pending law enforcement investigations of criminal activity
  • Personnel records where disclosure would cause an invasion of privacy
  • Public water system vulnerability assessments provided to the US EPA dated on or before June 30, 2004
  • Past or present licenses to carry concealed handgun records, including criminal and health history checks, related concealed handgun licenses, including the issuance, expiration, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a license to carry a concealed handgun per 5-73-301 et seq.
  • State boards or commissions’ licensing testing information
  • State income tax records
  • Undercover law enforcement officers’ identities
  • Unpublished drafts of quasi-judicial or judicial decisions and opinions
  • Unpublished working papers, memoranda, and communication of the Governor, members of the Supreme Court Justices, General Assembly, Court of Appeals Judges, and the Attorney General

For a full list of Arkansas’ official exemptions and exceptions to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, click here.

Court Records

This section covers Arkansas’s court system with an overview of the structure of the courts, what public records are open to the public to inspect, and how to search for court records.

Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. The Arkansas Supreme Court establishes rules regulating the professional conduct of attorneys and the practice of law. There are seven elected Arkansas Supreme Court Justices who must be licensed attorneys for at least eight years leading up to the date the term begins. Justices serve 8-year terms.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction, defined by Rule 1-2, hears the following cases:

  • All appeals about the construction or interpretation of the Constitution of Arkansas
  • Criminal appeals with a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty
  • Petitions for quo warranto, injunction, prohibition, or mandamus sent to circuit courts or municipal, county, or state officials
  • Appeals involving elections
  • Appeals involving an attorney’s practice of law or the disability and discipline of a judge
  • Second or subsequent appeals after an appeal ruling in the Supreme Court
  • Appeals mandated by law to be heard by the Supreme Court.

If you need more information or have questions concerning the Supreme Court schedule or docket, or you would like to request copies of appellate records, you can contact the Clerk of the Courts. You can find additional Supreme Court contact information here.

Court of Appeals

The Arkansas Supreme Court determines the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The Arkansas Court of Appeals has no right of appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court; however, the Arkansas Supreme Court can review opinions decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals in certain cases, or if the Arkansas Supreme Court determines it should have initially heard the case.

There are seven Court of Appeals districts in Arkansas, with each district represented by one elected judge. Judges of the Court of Appeals are subject to the same requirements as Supreme Court justices.

You can find the Court of Appeals contact information here.

Circuit Courts

In Arkansas, circuit courts are general jurisdiction trial courts and consist of the following five divisions: civil, criminal, domestic relations, probate, and juvenile. Circuit judges must be licensed attorneys in Arkansas for a minimum of six years immediately before taking office. Circuit judges are elected by the people of Arkansas and serve 6-year terms.

There are 28 judicial circuits with 126 circuit judges in the state. The Arkansas Judicial Circuits Map lists all of the circuit judges and their locations.

You can find contact information for all of the circuit courts below:

District Courts

In Arkansas, District Courts are the courts of limited jurisdiction. State district courts and local district courts are the two types of district courts in the state.

State District Courts

State district courts have territorial jurisdiction in city-wide, county-wide, or multi-county judicial districts that the General Assembly determines. Full-time judges serve in state district courts.

State district courts hear cases involving misdemeanors, traffic violations, civil issues having to do with personal property damage/recovery and contracts not exceeding $25,000, preliminary felony matters, and state law and local ordinance violations. Circuit court matters such as forcible entry, protective orders, and others can be sent to a district court judge.

A small claims division allows individuals to represent themselves in cases about personal property damage/recovery and contracts not exceeding $5,000.

Local District Courts

Local district courts have territorial jurisdiction in city-wide or countywide judicial districts that the General Assembly determines. Part-time judges serve in local district courts and can practice law in addition to their judge responsibilities.

Local district courts hear cases involving misdemeanors, traffic violations, preliminary felony matters, and civil issues with personal property damage/recovery and contracts not exceeding $5,000. Local district courts also have a small claims division.

The Arkansas District Courts Directory, including both state and local courts, can be found here.

Specialty Courts

Specialty Courts, first established in 1994 in Arkansas, exist to provide additional support to individuals with specific concerns, such as juvenile or adult substance use, veterans needing treatment, family affairs, or intoxicated drivers.

Arkansas currently has the following specialty courts:

  • 2 mental health courts
  • 16 juvenile drug courts
  • 49 adult courts
  • 14 DWI courts
  • 16 veteran treatment courts
  • 2 family courts
  • 5 alternative sentencing courts
  • 5 HOPE and Swift courts

The main goals of specialty court services include:

  • Drug and alcohol treatment services as part of case processing within the justice system.
  • Implementing a non-adversarial approach where the prosecution and defense counsel work to keep participants’ due process rights protected while ensuring the public’s safety.
  • Recognizing and placing those eligible into the specialty court program promptly.
  • Access to drug and alcohol rehabilitation services with continuous drug and alcohol testing.
  • Ongoing and coordinated strategies and interaction between the court and participant to monitor progress and assess the program’s effectiveness.
  • Promote effective specialty court operations through interdisciplinary education.
  • Maintaining relationships with community-based organizations and public agencies to improve the program’s effectiveness and encourage local support.

Clerk of the Courts

The Clerk of the Courts serves the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, the bar, and the public and is responsible for the following:

  • filing documents such as briefs, petitions, motions, and cases that are presented to courts for decisions
  • disseminating the orders, opinions, and per curiam orders to the attorneys, trial court judges, parties, press, and public once a decision is made
  • Serving as the courts’ financial officer by completing payroll and other financial duties for Supreme Court personnel and committees and managing the court’s budget per the State Legislature.
  • Collecting, depositing, and tracking annual license fees for attorneys, professional associations, and court reporters
  • Providing instruction to attorneys, judges, and the public about the process of the appellate courts

To find out more regarding fees involved with filing and recording documents, click here. For Clerk of the Courts’ contact information, visit here.

Administrative Office of the Courts

The Administrative Office of the Courts provides support to Arkansas state courts for the Arkansas Supreme Court. There are several divisions within the Administrative Office of the Courts, including the Juvenile Division, Legal Division, Finance and Administration, and Arkansas Court Automation Programs.

You can find contact information for the Administrative Office of the Courts here.

Are court records public information?

Court records in Arkansas are considered public information unless otherwise stated by law. Typically the following information is available to the public:

  • Case description
  • Parties involved
  • Court minutes
  • Docket report
  • Court orders
  • Sentencing information
  • Jury files and records
  • Witness information

Search Arkansas Court Records

Arkansas court records are available online via CourtConnect. You can conduct your search by entering any one of the following:

CourtConnect allows you to search the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, District Courts, Circuit Courts, and partial county information online. Click on the links to check if the court you are looking for is included on CourtConnect.

If you cannot find the information you are looking for via CourtConnect, you can contact the court where the case was heard.

Criminal Records

Criminal records in Arkansas include misdemeanor or felony arrests, convictions, sentencing, parole, and warrant information for offenders processed through the state’s court system. You can also search for registered sex offenders and inmates in Arkansas.

Several government agencies in Arkansas are responsible for the state’s criminal records. In compliance with state and federal law, each agency establishes its own policies, fees, and general guidelines for criminal record requests. This section provides information regarding the following types of criminal records, the agency responsible for them, and how to search for them:

  • Arrest records
  • Warrant records
  • Inmate records
  • Parole records
  • Probation records
  • Sex offender records
  • Juvenile records

We will begin with arrest records and arrest warrants.

Arrest Records and Arrest Warrants

Based on the 2019 FBI Crime Data Explorer, Arkansas arrest statistics were as follows:

  • 123,645 arrests in 2019
  • 17,207 arrests for crimes against persons (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, certain sex offenses, assault, human trafficking, etc.)
  • 19,008 arrests for property crimes (offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, vandalism, fraud, forgery and counterfeiting, embezzlement, arson, etc.)
  • 87,431 arrests for crimes against society (drug abuse violations, driving under the influence, drunkenness, disorderly conduct, weapons violations, prostitution, gambling, family and children vagrancy, etc.)
  • There were 584.6 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Arkansas, compared to 379.4 per 100,000 people in the US.
  • There were 2,858 property crimes per 100,000 people in Arkansas, compared to 2,101.9 per 100,000 people in the US.

What is the difference between an arrest record, arrest warrant, and criminal history information in Arkansas?

It’s important to note how Arkansas defines arrest records, arrest warrants, and criminal history information:

According to Arkansas Code Annotated (ACA) § 12-12-1503, arrest records are felony arrests where disposition or conviction information has not been entered into the central repository. Arrest records do not include felony arrests resulting in dismissal, acquittal, or nolle prosequi, felony arrests where it has been more than three years since the arrest occurred, or misdemeanor arrest information.

Arrest warrants are issued by a magistrate, circuit court judge, or district court judge after determining reasonable grounds for an arrest. A law enforcement officer can execute them under ACA § 16-81-104.

ACA § 12-12-1503 defines criminal history information as a record compiled by the bureau or central repository on an individual, including names, personal identification details, arrests, indictments, detentions, dispositions, correctional supervision, and release data. Criminal history information does not include fingerprint records in individuals not processed within the criminal justice system or driver history records.

Arkansas arrest records focus solely on felony arrests, while criminal history information provides a more comprehensive look at an individual’s criminal background.

What does an arrest or warrant record include in Arkansas?

An arrest record in Arkansas generally includes the following information:

  • Arkansas felony and misdemeanor convictions
  • any pending Arkansas felony arrests (the individual was arrested but not been to court yet) within the past three years
  • If the individual is a registered sex offender or must register as a sex offender.

Law enforcement agencies have access to information that citizens do not, pending misdemeanors, arrests where the individual was found not guilty, arrests dismissed in court or not prosecuted, as well as traffic records.

Arrest warrants generally include the following information:

  • The subject’s alleged criminal offense
  • The date the warrant was issued and who issued it
  • When and where the arrest may occur
  • The warrant’s expiration date
  • Bail/bond terms

No matter the jurisdiction, law enforcement officers can arrest an individual without a warrant if the officer believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual has committed a felony or if the officer witnesses a crime, based on Arkansas state law.

Who can access arrest and warrant records?

Arrest and warrant records are considered public records in Arkansas unless otherwise stated by law. There are exemptions, such as sealed records.

Search Arrest Records and Warrants in Arkansas

The Arkansas State Police Department maintains a central repository of criminal records that includes arrest records and warrant information. There are two ways to search Arkansas criminal records: the Arkansas Criminal Background Check (CBC) and the Arkansas Criminal History (ARCH) System. The method you choose depends on who you are and why you are looking for criminal arrest records or warrants. Let’s take a look at both:

Arkansas Criminal History (ARCH) System

The Arkansas Criminal History (ARCH) System is for individuals searching for records based on personal reasons instead of legally mandated ones. Anyone can conduct a search using the ARCH System; it is not required that you have the signed consent of the subject of the arrest record or warrant you are searching for.

The fee is $24 for each name-based search. ARCH accepts major credit or debit cards. You will be charged even if your search does not produce any results, and is non-refundable. Once payment is complete, you can view, download and print your results.

To search using the ARCH System, click here.

Legally Authorized Arkansas Criminal Background Check (CBC) – Online Requests

The Arkansas Criminal Background Check (CBD) is for searches mandated by law or if you have the record subject’s signed consent. The Arkansas State Police pulls arrest records and other criminal records from both the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) database in conjunction with the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

Because arrest records are based on fingerprints and not just the offender’s name, an arrest can be linked to any past criminal activity, even if a false name is given.

There are name-based and fingerprint-based CBC searches; they are listed below with their associated fee:

  • Arkansas state name-based check: $22.00
  • Arkansas state name-based check for volunteers: $11.00
  • National FBI fingerprint-based check: $14.25
  • National FBI fingerprint-based check for volunteers: $12.25

In addition to the fees above, the Information Network of Arkansas (INA) assesses an annual fee for their services. Educational institutions and state agencies can have this fee waived.

Legally Authorized Arkansas Criminal Background Check (CBC) – In-Person/Mail Requests

You can also request a CBC by mail or in person, as long as you have the signed written consent of the record’s subject. You will need to complete the following steps:

  • Complete the ASP-122 form
  • Include a notarized release signature from the subject of the arrest record you are checking.
  • Include a $25.00 money order or check or money order.
  • For each request sent via mail, include a stamped addressed envelope.
  • Mail your request to the Arkansas State Police Identification Bureau or deliver your request to the Arkansas State Police Headquarters.
  • The Arkansas State Police Headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for state holidays.
  • Do not mail or submit your request to the ASP Criminal Investigation Division or any Troop headquarters.

It typically takes 2-5 business days for the Identification Bureau to process your order once the Arkansas State Police Department receives all documentation and payment.

Arkansas Inmate Records

The Arkansas Division of Corrections maintains the state’s inmate records. There are multiple offices, work release centers, units, reentry centers, and correctional facilities in the state of Arkansas:

Search Inmate Records Online

Inmate records in Arkansas are generally open for the public to search. You can look up inmate records using the Arkansas Department of Corrections Inmate Search. You can search by the following criteria:

  • ADC number
  • First or last name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • County
  • Facility
  • Offense Category

Your search will result in the following:

  • ADC Number
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Hair and eye color
  • Height and weight
  • Initial Receipt Date
  • The facility, including address and mailing address
  • Custody classification
  • Good time class
  • PE/TE date
  • Total time
  • Aliases
  • Description
  • Current and prior prison sentence history, including offense, sentence date, county, case number, sentence length
  • Detainer information
  • Disciplinary Violations
  • Risk Level
  • Court Orders
  • Program Achievements
  • Probation/SIS

You can also download the entire inmate database.

Arkansas Juvenile Criminal Records

A juvenile record is an official record detailing the criminal activity of children or adolescents. Per Arkansas Juvenile Code § 9-27-309 and under the discretion of Arkansas circuit courts, juvenile records are considered confidential and are not available for the public to access. Only if the juvenile was tried as an adult and adjudicated for class A misdemeanors or felonies having to do with weapon violence are excluded from confidentiality.

Sex Offender Information

The Arkansas Sex Offender Registry, managed by the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC), is a database of individuals convicted of committing certain sex offenses and offenses against children. It is required by law that individuals found guilty of these crimes register. The public can access sex offender records, including their location and compliance status.

The Arkansas Sex Offender Registry allows you to search for the following ways:

  • For a specific offender, you can search by the person’s first or last name.
  • To look up offenders located within a certain area, you can enter an address, city, zip code, or county, and the mappable offenders within that area will show on the map.
  • Non-mappable offender database (you can search offenders in this tab by name).

You can also request that offender updates via phone or email notifications.

Vital Records

Vital records include life events such as birth, death, marriage, divorce, and adoption. The Arkansas Department of Health is responsible for maintaining the state’s vital records. Arkansas state law vital records less than 100 years old as confidential; they are only available to eligible individuals. These individuals include:

  • The subject of the record
  • Spouse
  • Registered domestic partner
  • Parents or legal guardians
  • Descendants
  • An attorney representing any of the above
  • Local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Genealogists

When placing an order for a vital record in Arkansas, you will be required to prove your identity and pay the associated fees.

Order Vital Records

Every county in Arkansas has a Local Public Health Unit that offers vital record services. You can visit your local public health unit to obtain vital records. You can also request vital records online, by mail, or by phone.

The fees are as follows:

  • Birth Certificates: The first copy costs $12.00, and any extra copies of the same record cost $10.00 each. Even if the birth record requested is not found, the $12 search fee will be charged and is nonrefundable.
  • Death Certificates: The first copy costs $10.00, and any extra copies of the same record cost $8.00 each. Even if the death record requested is not found, the $10 search fee will be charged and is nonrefundable.
  • Marriage Coupons: Each copy is $10.00. Even if the marriage record is not found, there will be a non-refundable charge of $10.00.
  • Divorce Coupons: Each copy is $10.00. Even if the divorce record is not found, there will be a non-refundable charge of $10.00.

For records ordered online using Vital Records, there is a processing fee of $5.00 and a $1.85 non-refundable identity verification fee, plus any expedited shipping options you choose. Vital Records accepted major credit or debit cards.

See below for details on how to order vital records online, by mail, or by phone.

Request an Arkansas Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Divorce Record, or Death Certificate Online

Eligible individuals can request a birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce record online through Vital Records. You will need to provide a valid driver’s license or two forms of approved alternate ID, your credit or debit card information, and your proof of relationship.

Online orders typically take 7-14 business days to process.
You can also use Vital Records to search for and request genealogical death certificates. This request is for death certificates from 1935 to 1961.

Request an Arkansas Birth Certificate, Marriage Coupon, Divorce Coupon, or Death Certificate by Mail

Eligible individuals can request birth certificates, death certificates, divorce coupons, or marriage coupons by mail by completing the following steps:

  • Complete the appropriate application (you can also pick an application up from your local health unit):
    • Birth Certificate Application
    • Death Certificate Application
    • Marriage Coupon Application
    • Divorce Coupon Application
  • Provide a copy (or copies) of approved identification and include the signed Vital Records Authorization Form if required
  • Include a money order or check made payable to the Arkansas Department of Health.
  • Mail to the Arkansas Department of Health, Vital Records, Slot 44, 4815 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205

Mail orders typically take 10-14 days to process, plus delivery time.

Request an Arkansas Birth Certificate, Marriage Coupon, Divorce Coupon, or Death Certificate in Person

Eligible individuals can request vital records in person at the Arkansas Department of Health’s vital records office at 4815 West Markham St., Little Rock, AR 72205. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except for state holidays.

You can receive certain vital record requests the same day as your request if you arrive before 4:00 pm. You will need to provide proof of ID. The office accepts credit or debit cards, cash, money orders, or checks made payable to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Request an Arkansas Birth Certificate, Marriage Coupon, Divorce Coupon, or Death Certificate by Phone

Eligible individuals can request birth certificates by calling 866-209-9482. You can request expedited shipping. Major credit and debit cards are accepted.

For questions or concerns regarding birth certificates, you can reach out to the Arkansas Department of Health Vital Records Office by email, in person, or you can submit a form online.

You can check on the status of your order here.

Adoption Records

Adoption records are considered confidential in Arkansas and are only available to eligible persons. Adoptees 21 years or older can request their adoption records from the Arkansas Department of Health under Act 519.

Adoptees or, if deceased, their spouse or a child’s guardian can request adoption files by showing proof of identity and submitting notarized forms to the state. To request adoption files, complete the following steps:

Act 519 also gives birth parents the right to update family history information, redact their name from the adoption file, and request not to be contacted. Birth parents are required to provide proof of their identity and submit the appropriate form, which must be notarized:

You can find a full list of instructions for birth parents here.

You can submit the packet to the Arkansas Department of Health, Vital Records Department, State Registrar, 4815 West Markham St., Slot 44, Little Rock AR 72205.

Business Records

The Arkansas Secretary of State is responsible for maintaining business records. You can search online by the type of corporation, name, registered agent, or filing number.

Your search will result in the following information:

  • The name of the corporation, including any fictitious names
  • Filing type and number
  • The act the business is filed under
  • Status
  • Principal address
  • Registered agent name and address
  • Date Filed
  • Officers
  • Foreign name and address (if applicable)
  • State of Origin

You can also request certificates, pay fees, download lists, and more from the Secretary of State’s website:

Historical Records

The Arkansas State Archives is responsible for preserving and providing access to the state’s historical records, dating back over 200 years.

You can visit the Arkansas State Archives in person Mondays through Fridays and some Saturdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed on state holidays).
You can also search through the state’s archives online by emailing or submitting a form to the archivists on staff. The first two hours of research are free. Be sure to include as many details as possible about the information you are looking to assist the archivists in their search.

Property Tax Records

You can search Arkansas property tax information with this helpful map, which provides links to all 75 of the state’s counties’ websites.

Driving Records

Per Arkansas Code 27-50-901 et. Seq, driving records are considered confidential and can only be accessed by you, as the driver, or someone who has signed consent from the driver. A release, which stays in effect for five years unless withdrawn, must include the following:

  • your name and date of birth
  • drivers’ license number,
  • the name of the persons to whom the information is to be released.

There are several types of driving records:

  • Insurance Record: an insurance record covers traffic violations occurring over the past three years. The fee is $10.00 online or $8.50 in person or by mail.
  • Commercial Record: employers typically request commercial driving records, and typically it will go past three years. The fee is $13.00 online or $10.00 in person or by mail.
  • History Record: a history record provides a complete look into your entire driving record – since you obtained your license. You must request a history record in person or by mail. The fee is $8.50.

You can request your driving record in the following ways:

  • Online
  • In-Person at any Arkansas Revenue Office using this form.
  • By Mail: complete this form, include payment, and mail to the State of Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Attn: Driving Records, P.O. Box 1272, Room 1070, Little Rock, AR 72203
  • In-Person at the Driving Records Counter using this form.

What do I do if there is an error with my public records in Arkansas?

If you feel that an error has been made in any of your public records, you can take action by contacting the government agency responsible for the record. Many agencies offer help on their websites, or you can contact them directly.

Background Hawk - Team

Background Hawk - Team

Leave a Reply