The Louisiana State Legislature brought the Louisiana Public Records Act (the Louisiana Sunshine Law) into action in 1940. This law allowed all documents held by public bodies to be openly available to the citizens. The law states that the Louisiana public has a right to know what is going on in their government.
After the Freedom of Information Act was set in place by the United States Government in 1967, giving citizens the right to request all public records held by federal agencies, Louisiana updated its laws in 1974 after adopting a new constitution.
Along with the open records law, the Louisiana State Legislature also imposed the Open Meeting Law, stating all citizens also have the legal right to attend any meeting held by the government that deals with the interest of the public, school board meetings, town meetings, etc.
How Does Louisiana Define Public Records?
In the State of Louisiana, public records are considered to be anything in writing, recording, documentation, or other documentation materials that can keep information pertaining to the transactions, conducts, or informational documentation possessed by any public body.
Louisiana State believes that all public residents ages 18 or older have the right to review any records kept by the federal government and should have complete access to all materials available unless otherwise stated in the FOIA Freedom of Informations Act, exempting the information from public view.
What is the public body?
- Governing Authority
- perform a governmental or proprietary function
- Instrumentality of State, Parish, or municipal government, or
- Political Subdivision
- Public, nonprofit corporations designed to perform a government duty
Examples of records open to the public include, but are not limited to (§1.1. Short title) :
- Vital records (birth or death certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, etc.)
- Genealogy reports
- Criminal background checks (limited access)
- Arrest warrants
- Arrest records
- Inmate Records
- Parolee/Pardon records
- Sex offenders records
- Property Records
- Deeds and Liens
- Property tax records
- Community Health and Safety records
- Licencing and Permit Records
- Insurance procedures
Do I Have to Give a Reason for My Request?
Records that are lawfully available to the public do not require a reason for wanting or requesting any public records, nor should they be asked for a reason. No questions should be asked when a person is requesting any type of public record except for their name and identification.
What if I am Refused Records?
The State of Louisiana does not handle cases of non-compliance. If someone is denied the right to public records and the records in question are, in fact, open to public review, the person requesting will have to file a complaint with their district court system.
Once a complaint is filed, the agency that is refusing to release documentation has five days to offer the reason for denial. If the court finds this breaks any of the Freedom of Information laws, the court will enforce the agency to release the documentation.
If the court finds that the agency has a legal reason behind non-compliance with releasing said documentation, they will let you know the decision is being upheld and the reason why.
Are There Penalties for Agencies Who Do Not Comply?
Anyone who wants to take action against a company that is not complying with the rules in the Sunshine State Laws can file a lawsuit within 60 days of the denial. If it is found that any government party who was willfully refusing documentation that is in the right of the public to view, they will be given a $100 fine and will be responsible for the court costs.
However, if a suit is filed and you lose the case, you are responsible for all court costs.
What is the Open Meeting Law?
In the State of Louisiana, the Open Meeting Law allows the entirety of the public to be present for any local business or meeting conducted by a government agency, federal agency, or any regulator body. Not only are these meetings open to the public, but also the records included for those meetings and the final decisions made.
What is a Closed Records State?
Louisiana is considered to be a “closed records state.” This means that some public records that are available can only be released through the proper channel and those who are listed as legally being allowed to obtain the records.
Where can you Obtain Louisiana State Public Records?
In the State of Louisiana, it is much easier to request any public records from your local municipalities when possible.
If you are looking to obtain public records directly from the state, you can do so multiple ways.
450 Laurel Street, Suite 1650
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
P.O. Box 14776
Baton Rouge, LA 70898-4776
When requesting records, you must complete a records request letter. Here is an example of how to properly request any records from Louisiana State. Records Request
How Long Does it Take to Process a Records Request?
The records act established that records should be provided as soon as possible, as long as the public record applied for is readily available. If the records are not immediately accessible, the office handling the request should provide the requestor a written statement of when they can expect the records.
The process of approving and denying the records should never take any longer than 3 business days.
Is There a Fee to Obtain Records?
If there is a fee associated with the particular records you are requesting, you should expect to be charged Louisiana’s Uniform fee, set by the Louisiana Division of Administrations.
The general fee charged is .25 cents per paper copied documentation, and charges should not be placed upon a person of the public who is visiting a business only to view documentation.
What Information is Exempt From Public Records
Information that could possibly cause harmful repercussions to a business or single person would be exempt from public records. Examples of the reason for exemption are, but not limited to:
- Juvenile Records
- Person Records
- School reports that provide personal information pertaining to students or personnel
- Lawyer and Client conversations and all forms of communication
- Health records, including coroner records
- Trades secret information such as formulas, research, etc
- Personal information regarding government employees
What Happens if You are Denied Records?
If you are denied the right to the records you have requested, you will receive a letting in the mail within 7-10 business days letting you know. If you believe you are unfairly denied, you can file a suit against the agency to dispute it. (as previously mentioned above)
Where Do You Obtain Court Records?
If you would like to obtain court transcripts in Louisiana, you can do so by requesting them directly from the court reporter who documented the case. If you need help locating the court reporter, you can search for them on the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website.
This website will help you find any court transcripts you are looking for, and the court reporter will request payment for records and will only prepare and provide records to your attorney.
Criminal Records Search in Louisiana
Most of the criminal record searches are used by employers who want to make sure someone they are about to hire is not a criminal and doesn’t have a past history of criminal or violent offenses.
For these people, a background check can be done by visiting the Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Identification and Information. You have to request criminal records and be approved after providing a detailed reason regarding your need for these records.
A criminal record can not be requested by a citizen’s personal viewing and, for the most part, can only be released if the persons whose records are being obtained sign off on the release.
Who Has Access to Criminal Record Requests?
Only certain agencies are given access to the criminal background record of any person. These agencies include, but are not limited to,
- Daycare facilities
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor
- Health care providers
- Board of River Port Pilots
- Any facility working with children
- Government affairs
- Senate affairs
- Public Housing Commission
- Office of Vital Statistics
What is Found on a Criminal History Record Report in Louisiana?
A criminal history report in the state of Louisiana is not considered a public record and will not be available through the State of Louisiana. Each jurisdiction in the state does have the right to release some information pertaining to a criminal history record, and it can be accessed through the county’s sheriff’s office.
The information you will find in a background report will include the following:
- Name, Date of birth, ethnicity, race, gender
- Mugshots (if one is on file)
- Set of fingerprints
- Physical features of a person that is unique, such as a tattoo or scar
- A description of the crimes they have been charged with and what type of crime it falls under (felony or misdemeanor)
How Long Will Arrest Information Stay On a Record?
A conviction will stay on your arrest records for the rest of your life unless you can convince a judge to have the information expunged. There are a few reasons to request the courts to expunge information from your arrest records, and a hearing can be made if you qualify.
How Can You Have Arrest Records Expunged
According to the Louisiana Code of Limited Procedure (Article 978), A felony conviction can be expunged from a criminal record if the crime was committed at least 10 years ago and no other conviction has occurred since then. This process can only be done once in your life, and any other felony conviction you commit will remain on your records with no chance of expunging it.
In the case of a misdemeanor conviction, you can have one offense expunged from your record every five years in the State of Louisiana. If your misdemeanor involves a DWI, you can only have this removed from your record once every 10 years.
What Do Arrest Records in Louisiana Show?
An arrest record in the State of Louisiana will show the name of the person, their fingerprints, a photograph of the accused, and information regarding the charges being filed.
How Can You Search for Arrest Records in Louisiana?
Because of their closed records system, Louisiana State does not give any information to the public regarding criminal conduct online. However, you can obtain information through your local municipality or county sheriff’s department, or you can access mugshot records through a third-party source.
Warrant Records Search In Louisiana
An arrest warrant is a paper signed by a judge that gives law enforcement the right to arrest someone or to search the property of a person. Arrest warrants are considered a public record and can be viewed by any citizen.
How to Request Arrest Warrant Records from Law Enforcement in Louisiana
You can view all Louisiana arrest warrants by searching the warrant search webpage or by calling your local law enforcement agency and asking them directly if you have a warrant out for your arrest in the state.
Warrants can be searched by each individual county by going to https://www.ebrso.org/WarrantDetails/ID/15575.
Louisiana Inmate Records
An inmate is a criminal who was charged with an illegal offense and sentenced to serve time in a Louisiana correctional institute. According to the Louisiana Public Records Law, this information is available for the public for review.
To view inmate information, you must call the Louisiana State Department of Corrections (225-383-4580) with the inmate’s information to obtain the 24/hr prison locator system. The state is one of the few that does not offer an open inmate search online.
However, you can view the prisoners being held in each facility by visiting the website of the sheriff’s office in each specific county. These records are kept up to date regularly for the public’s safety and right to information.
What’s On An Inmate Record in Louisiana?
When you access an inmate record in Louisiana, you will be able to view the information that is pertinent to the safety and best interest of the public.
The information accessible to the public regarding an inmate in a Louisiana jail or prison is as follows:
- Name, date of birth, race, gender, ethnicity
- Inmate’s picture
- Location inmate is being held
- Inmate’s registration number
- All jail transfer information
- Custody status
What is on a Parolee Record? How Can I Obtain Records?
A Parolee is a person who has been recently released from prison after serving some of their sentences. Although some of their records may not be accessible to the public from the state, all citizens have the right to attend any parole or pardon hearing.
According to the Louisiana State law, R.S. 15:574.12. No records are given out to the public regarding the criminal acts of any person. You can, however, access information through your local jurisdiction. That is not to say they all offer any information; they are, however, able to do so if they so choose.
Information that can be seen on a person’s parole records area as follows:
- Name, date of birth, sex, race,
- Booking date
- Release date
- Charges filed
Pardon and Parolee’s annual reports are also open for public review and can be found by visiting this site.
Can I Access 911 Calls?
Since the forming of HIPPA, 911 calls are no longer considered public records and can not be requested or released to any citizen in the state.
Sex Offender Information in Louisana
Under the State of Louisiana’s records law (RS 15:587.8), all records pertaining to a criminal sexual act are open to public records review. You can locate these records by visiting the site.
http://www.lsp.org/socpr/disclaimer.html, or by searching your local registry.
Every person who is convicted of a sexual crime under the State of Louisiana law is legally required to register as a sex offender. If someone committed a sexual offense in another state and moved to Louisiana, they must register under Louisiana’s registry within 3 business days. This applies to people leaving Louisiana to another state as well.
An inmate is also required to file under the sex offender registration in Louisana within 3 business days of being released from prison.
To access the state’s registry, you will need to enter your address or offender’s location in order to get direct information on offenders near you.
To visit a list of all registered sex offenders in your county, you will have to visit your local sheriff’s department’s webpage.
What is Information is on the Sex Offender Registration in Louisana
Since the Sunshine Law states that all information pertaining to the sexual offender’s whereabouts and appearance, most of their sex offense records are available for the public’s review.
Information on the registry includes but is not limited to:
- Name, date of birth, sex, race
- Photo of offender
- Physical description: eye color, hair color, height, weight
- Unique description: tattoos, scars, birthmarks, etc
- Registration ID
- Current address
- Level of offender
- Description of offense
- Date of conviction
- State of conviction
- Known vehicle information
Most Wanted Criminal Search
Every public citizen has the right to know what fugitive is living among them and what they look like to keep themselves aware and safe. In the State of Louisiana, you can access the most wanted list by visiting the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections by visiting their website at DPS&C’s Most Wanted.
On this webpage, you have access to the fugitive’s name, race, height, weight, place of birth, mugshot, escaped date, where they escaped from, and their occupation.
Vital Records in Louisiana
In the State of Louisiana, vital records are considered to be birth certificates, death certificates, paternity information, marriage licenses, and divorce decree. Any such document that directly relates to the life even occurring for any citizen in the state of Louisiana.
Address for mail-in request:
Vital Records Registry
PO Box 60630
New Orleans, LA 70160
By Phone: (504) 593-5100
Or the Vital Checks website: Link
Fees Associated for Copies of Vital Records
There is a fee associated with all vital records requests. These fees must be paid for the release of the records.
- Birth Certificate- $15.00 per copy
- Birth Certificate and Birth Card – $24.00/pair
- Death Certificate- $7.00 per copy
- Orleans Parish Marriage Certificate- $5.00 per copy
- Evidentiary Document- $10.00 per copy
- Clerk of Court issued Long-Form Birth Certificate- $34.00 per copy
- Clerk of Court issued Death Certificate- $26.00 per copy
- Orleans Parish Marriage License- $27.50
- Adoption/Legitimation/Paternity- $27.50
- Amendment of Birth Record $27.50
- Amendment of Death Record – $25.50
- Amendment of Marriage License $23.50
- Putative Father Registry Certificate $10.00
All vital records are only obtainable through the vital records request if you have the lawful right to access them. Vital records pertaining to historical events are only obtainable after the person of whom you are requesting records has been dead for 100 years.
Obituary Lookup Records
Obituary reports are considered to be that of public records, and you can access all information by visiting Louisiana’s Obituaries Archives website at https://www.obitsarchive.com/obituaries/usa/louisiana?
Environmental Health Records
Records that pertain to public health and the conditions of the environment in Louisiana State are open for public access. You can find these records by logging into the Louisiana Sustainability and Environmental Health Resources webpage at https://www.publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/louisiana/health-safety/environment.
The records accessible through the state are, but not limited to:
- Air quality
- Flood Plan information
- Water quality
- Beach monitoring
- Environmental health
Historical Records in Louisiana
Louisiana State has a large library of historical documents that are available to the public. This library is located in the Louisiana Secretary of State building and is responsible for collecting and maintaining all historical artifacts that involve the growth of their state. These records include but are not limited to:
- General histories
- Census indexes
- Immigration schedules
- Church records
- Family history assessment records
- Colonial documents
- Passenger manifests for the Port of New Orleans
- Military service records
- Confederate Pension Applications
- Records from the State Land Office
How Do You Request Historical Records?
You can request records through the mail in person. To request copies of historical records, you will have to mail records request along with payment and request form, to Research Library Secretary of State P.O. Box 94125 Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125.
DO NOT SEND CASH. The Secretary of State library is not responsible for any lost cash that has been sent through the mail. Please only send checks or money orders along with your request.
Record Request forms can be printed through these links:
- Committee Hearing Audio Tape Request
- Genealogical Research Request Form
- Request for Confederate Pension Application
- Campaign Finance Report Supplemental Form
- Request for Microfilm Reel Copies
- Request for Vital Records Microfilm Index Copies
- Request for Historical Documents (public officials only)
- Digital Image Request Form
- Request for Permission to Publish
Along with the form, you must clearly provide the information below:
- Name of person you are searching for, first and last.
- Location of birth
- Sex and race
- Date of when the person died (approximately)
- Where the records are located in the library (if known), book, page, etc.
If you would like to visit the archives to view their historical library, you can do so by visiting them at 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Please check their website for all visitor’s information, including times and who is allowed to visit.
Once there, you are allowed to make copies of most of the records for a fee; the fees including are as follows:
Confederate Pension Applications- $20 per record
Military Service Records
Confederate Soldiers from Louisiana- $15 per record
World War I Discharge Records- $15 per record
Self-service copy charges (per page)
- Photocopies- $.25 per copy
- Microfilm prints- $.50 per copy
- Computer printouts- $.25 per copy
- Book Scanner prints- $.25 per copy
Staff prepared records
- Photocopied Vital Record- $5 per copy
- Certified Vital Record – $10 per copy
- Document Certification- $20 per record
- Microfilm duplication of existing roll- $20 per roll for 16mm $25 for 35mm
Legislative Committee Hearing Audio Reproduction
- $20 per tape (for citizens)
- $10 per tape (for government agencies)
- Digital Imaging
- $10- per image
- You can also browse their online catalog at Louisiana State Archives.
Louisiana State genealogy records can be located in the Library of Congress and the Louisiana geological and historical society. You can use these resources to locate information regarding your past relatives and bloodlines.
Locate information regarding the Louisiana State formation and the laws and legislations that have been passed, changed, and discarded.
You can visit the Cajun website to locate past surnames, exiles, prisoner reports, information regarding the Acadians, and how they made their way into Louisiana. You can use this website and the information to locate information regarding historical art, food, past written poems.
Families can visit these genealogy sites to locate information regarding tombs, the history of their parishes, Native American Tribes that settled in Louisiana. You can also request surname reports to get information on previous Louisiana residents and their possible relationship to present residents.
By visiting https://web.archive.org/web/20130829021247/ and https://www.trace.com/genealogists/louisiana/ you will have access to information including Louisiana biographies, rosters of military officers from 1843 and more.
Other websites available to the public that offer information regarding Louisiana history and genealogy are as follows: Louisiana, United States Genealogy, Louisiana History, Louisiana State Archives Library. You can visit the Library of Congress for a full list of recommended research tools available for Louisiana history and genealogy information.
Census Reports in Louisiana State
As a citizen in Louisiana State, you have the right to review all past census reports that are available to you online. You can locate this information by visiting the Louisiana State Archives.
Information that is Found on a Census Report
The information that can be found on a census report includes the following:
The information gathered in the census report has been used to get an approximate count of all people living in the United States and determine how many populate each state. This is used to help determine how many seats each state is allowed to have in the House of Representatives.
Louisiana Land Records and Deeds
In the State of Louisiana, land records and deeds are considered to be public records and are available for citizen view. You can access these records by visiting the Louisiana Land Records webpage at https://www.publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/louisiana.
When purchasing a property, you have the right to view the chain of title. This will ensure that the person who is selling you the property has the right to do so and owns the home, business, or land they are selling. You can view the chain of titles by going to the clerk’s office and having them look it up. There are some parishes that offer this information online.
Louisiana Business Records
You can access business filings in the state of Louisiana by visiting the Secretary of State website. The information regarding the business, its locations, and its standings are open for public viewing for every business in the state, along with their earnings, taxes, and payroll.
Financial reports are considered to be public records and include payroll records, and other records pertaining to a town located in Louisiana should be available to be reviewed by the public upon request. However, payroll checks that are completed and given to the employee are not part of the records available to the public and can not be released for viewing.
Insurance Company Records Accessible in Louisiana
Information pertaining to the act of insurance companies, including agencies, adjusters, an agent, or appraisers are open to public records. You can find this information on the Louisiana Department of Insurances Website by Visiting: LDI Online Services.
Here you can access information regarding the business of any insurance-related companies. This includes, but is not limited to, the companies name, address, license #, status of the license, lines of authority, license interruption, and much more.
Court Cases that Have Impacted the Public Records Act in Louisiana
While Louisiana’s Publics records act was a big foot forward in the right direction when it came to giving the people more access to the actions of their government, it didn’t start off the way it is perceived today. There have been many court cases that have been held throughout the years that have helped to better detail these laws and fill in some empty gaps.
These cases include:
- 1973- Reeves v. Orleans Parish School Board
- 1980- Phillips v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University
- 1986- Hill v. Mamoulides-
- 1987- Common Cause v. Morial
- 1989- Hatfield v. Bush (I)
- 1990- Hatfield v. Bush (II)
- 1990- Association of Rights of Citizens v. St. Bernard
- 1992- State of Louisiana v. Nicholls College Foundation
- 1994- Plaquemines Parish Council v. Petrovich
- 1995- Elliott v. District Attorney of Baton Rouge
- 1997- Capital City Press v. East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council
- 1999- Burkett v. UDS Management
- 2000- Broderick v. State, Department of Environmental Quality
- 2000- Bester v. Louisiana Supreme Court Commission on Bar Admissions
- 2001- St. Mary Anesthesia Association Inc. v. Hospital Service District No. 2 of Parish of St. Mary
- 2001- Louisiana Supreme Court Commission on Bar Admissions v. Roberts
- 2001- Landis v. Moreau
- 2001- Joseph v. Hospital Service District No. 2 of the Parish of St. Mary
- 2002- Hilliard v. Litchfield
- 2003- Times-Picayune Publishing Corp. v. Board of Supervisors
- 2003- The state of Louisiana v. Jean
- 2003- Local 100, SEIU v. Smith
- 2003- Kyle v. Perrilloux
- 2003- Diggs v. Pennington
- 2004- Angelo Iafrate Constr., L.L.C. v. the State of Louisiana
- 2005- Vourvoulias v. Movassaghi
- 2005- First Commerce Title Co. Inc. v. Martin
- 2005- Eastbank Consolidated Special Service Fire Protection District v. Crossen
- 2006- Hill v. East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Emergency Medical Services
Because Louisiana is one of the few ”closed records states,” many of their public records are not going to be easy to find through online research. The best way to obtain any public records is by contacting the state or your local municipal building.
Keep in mind that, for the time being, visiting local government buildings and offices to obtain public records may be restricted due to the covid outbreak. Please call each building you plan on visiting ahead of time to learn the process and procedures in place to keep the public safe.
Although the rules set forth by The Sunshine Act are lawfully mandated in each state, the State of Louisiana has given each parish the right to release this information in the best way for that location. Obtaining information in different counties of Louisiana may not look the same.