Though Utah has certainly made great strides over the years to consolidate and standardize a lot of its public records, particularly with all public information now being totally governed by the state Government Records Access and Management Act, the public record process can still be somewhat complex and convoluted.
Like a lot of other states throughout the country, public records are maintained in Utah by a number of different agencies, organizations, and even different departments within those agencies and organizations.
This can make tracking down the right records a bit of a challenge, and it definitely slows down the overall public record process.
Thankfully though, with a bit of information (like the details that we include below) you should have a much easier time navigating everything there is to know about getting public records in the state of Utah and navigating the public records system.
Below we cover (almost) everything you need to know about the public record system in Utah, how to move through different public record request processes, the kinds of protections in place for certain public records, and so much more.
What Federal Laws Apply to Public Record Requests in the US?
Requiring either the full or partial disclosure of (previously unreleased) information controlled by the federal US government upon request, the Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson all the way back in 1966 – though it wouldn’t become the “law of the land” until a year later.
Updated a number of times since it was established (and even initially repealed by Congress), this law and its follow-on amendments are considered the gold standard that establishes how Freedom of Information Act public record requests should be handled at both the federal and state level.
Today the state of Utah (like every other state across the country) is beholden to the rules, regulations, and mandates set forth by the FOIA process when public record requests are made of government agencies or organizations operating within Utah borders.
On top of that, a number of the rules, regulations, and mandates established by FOIA have helped to inform the Utah state-level public record laws and legislation, too.
How Does Utah Define Public Records?
Utah defines public records as “any documents or records created by public bodies in Utah that are open for inspection to any member of the public”, a key piece of the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) – just one of the pieces of legislation that mandate how public record requests and fulfillment are to be handled.
The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act is another piece of legislation that helps to further define and codify what kinds of records are considered to be “public records” and how information from public meetings are to be reported and shared with the general population upon request.
Examples of Public Records in Utah
Because Utah has some of the most transparency with their public record-keeping of any state in the US, almost any record that is created, kept, or maintained by a government agency is to be considered a record that can be requested for review by any member of the public – regardless of whether or not they live or work in the state of Utah.
Examples of records provided to the general public upon request include:
- Court System Records – Justice Court records handling Class B and See misdemeanors, any ordinance violations, traffic, and parking issues as well as small claims situations; District Court records handling more serious trial courts, civil and criminal felony cases, Class A misdemeanors, domestic relation issues as well as probate and small claims cases; Juvenile Courts that handle all court proceedings regarding children; Court of Appeals records as well as Utah Supreme Court records
- Criminal System Records – Arrest records, warrant records, conviction records, incarceration records, sex offender records, etc.
- Vital Records – Birth records, death records, marriage and divorce certificates, as well as a whole host of death, burial, and cemetery records, statewide marriage statistics and information, and more
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Utah public records can also provide information about bankruptcies, criminal and civil judgments, tax lien information, court records, and public meeting minutes as well.
There aren’t a whole lot of public record exemptions available in the state of Utah. Transparency really is a huge part of the fabric of state governance in Utah today.
The few exemptions that do exist have been established under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act and include (but are not limited to):
- Private information about individual citizens and government employees
- Health records of individuals
- Public records that are otherwise protected if there release could result in security risks
- Public records that may have to do with financial speculation, unfair competition, or financial instability situations
More information about these kinds of exemptions can be found in the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act under section 63G – 2 – 302/303/304/106/305.
Where Can I Make Public Record Requests in Utah?
Requesting Utah public records is a pretty simple and straightforward process.
First, the individual or organization looking to conduct a public record request needs to decide exactly what kind of information they are looking to secure in the first place.
Criminal public records will need to be conducted through the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS). Inmate records are going to be maintained by the Utah Department of Corrections (DOC).
Court records in the state of Utah will almost always be accumulated in the statewide database at the Utah Courts website, though Utah Supreme Court records are always held by the Supreme Court themselves.
Vital records searches need to be requested through the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics.
If you are having a difficult time finding the right place to request a specific type of public record, it may not be a bad idea to contact the local town hall, town offices, or even the local library for help.
These officials will usually be able to point you in the right direction and help you find the kinds of details you are looking for.
What Kinds of Fees are Associated with Public Record Requests?
When the Utah legislature signed the Government Records Access and Management Act into law in 1991 they established not only how records could be accessed (and how they should be requested) but also how much these record requests would cost as well.
This specific breakdown of fees can be found in the GRAMA under Title 63G, Chapter 2 section of the Utah Code.
As of 2021, the GRAMA says that all public record requests in the state of Utah shall cost $10 per report requested for up to 50 printed pages (or electronically transmitted pages), with each individual page after 50 pages costing $0.25 per page.
Individuals requesting publicly available information maintained by the state of Utah that is not otherwise exempted are going to need to include a check or money order that has been made out to the government agency or organization they are requesting documents from with their actual request.
Some agencies will also accept cash or major credit and debit cards when ordering in person (or ordering public records online), though this is always going to be offered on a case-by-case basis. Not all agencies have these capabilities or capacities.
A lot of states across America have a tough time organizing the court records that they maintain, if only because there are so many different judicial levels and court systems within each state that a single, streamlined, and standardized system doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Utah has found a way to create a really efficient system for not only reporting the information – but also standardizing the database search process as well.
Those looking to run court-based public records in the state of Utah need only visit the www.utcourts.gov/records website and access the Utah Courts database system.
Individuals and organizations are going to be able to search information on appellate dockets, comb through District Court records, and even look into the court archives (that include information that is at least 50 years old or older).
Another great thing about the Utah Courts database system and this online interface is that if you discover that the information is incomplete or records are inaccurate the system will recommend a clerk of court or county clerk to contact for more information and to remedy the situation for you.
If you are on the hunt for Supreme Court records in the state of Utah, though, you’ll need to go directly to the Utah Supreme Court website that you can find at the following address: www.utcourts.gov/courts/SUP
Full reporting regarding an individual’s criminal history (sometimes called their criminal record, or colloquially called their “rap sheet”) can be found by contacting the Utah Department of Public Safety directly.
These records are fully maintained by DPS in conjunction with local and state-level law enforcement organizations, all of which maintain comprehensive records that are also shared with federal authorities in certain circumstances.
What is on a Criminal Record in Utah?
The kind of information that these types of records have can include:
- Personally identifying information, like name and alias details, date of birth, etc.
- Biometric information regarding each individual, including fingerprints and mugshots (whenever applicable)
- Distinguishing feature details, highlighting an individual’s physical attributes, tattoos, scars, etc.
- Information regarding the specific types of crimes that these individuals had been charged with
How Long Does Criminal Information Stay on a Record?
Previous to 2019, every piece of criminal history on a criminal record for an individual in Utah was to be kept and maintained by the state indefinitely – which means that records going back 20, 30, 40, 50 years or more in the past would still show up on an active public record request that had been approved.
In 2019, however, the Utah legislature passed a bill called HB 431 that instituted an automatic system that would (eventually) eliminate the criminal records of individuals that had been convicted over specific low-level crimes after a period of time had passed.
Individuals would first have to apply for expungement for their records (a relatively simple and straightforward process in the state of Utah). If approved, these new laws would immediately kick in and after a set amount of time, the criminal records would simply disappear from the Utah system.
Low-level crimes that can be “erased” from Utah records include Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Drug Possession charges (the only Class A misdemeanor available for expungement).
Those records can be eliminated after five years, six years, and seven years (respectfully) have passed with an individual leading a completely crime-free life.
More serious crimes – crimes like felonies, DUIs, and violent misdemeanors that include domestic violence or sexual battery situations – cannot be expunged or have their records wiped clean in the state of Utah.
Can Criminal History Be Challenged/Expunged/Sealed?
Utah does allow for adults to request their criminal records to be sealed or expunged after a specific amount of time has passed, usually five years (though sometimes even more).
The process is generally simple and straightforward, too.
Petitions are made within the Utah Court System (the type of record being challenged will dictate what kind of court handles the situation) after specific motions for expungement have been filed. More information about those kinds of motions can be found on this website.
At least 30 days have had to have passed since the arrest of the individual making this request, and there also cannot be any criminal cases currently pending.
Charges related to the offense also have to have been filed and it may be necessary that the case was either dismissed with prejudice, dismissed without prejudice or without condition, or the prosecutor consents to this motion in writing by issuing a certificate of eligibility.
More specific information about how to navigate the expungement process can be found by reading the state laws in Utah Code Section 77-40-104.
Utah does provide access to active and prior warrants upon public record requests, with individuals not only able to search for warrants that may be out for their specific arrest but also being able to search for warrants that may be out for other individuals in the state of Utah as well.
Three different types of warrants are included in the Utah Statewide Warrant Search database maintained by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.
These warrants include:
- Arrest Warrants – Warrants that give law enforcement officers and officials the ability to legally arrest people that have been suspected of committing a crime
- Bench Warrants – These are the kinds of warrants that are issued “from the bench” by a judge, usually granted in the event of an individual not showing up for a specific court appointment
- Search Warrants – These warrants are very specific and provide law enforcement officers the ability to conduct searches for things clearly outlined in the warrant in locations that are clearly listed in the warrant, too
Anyone looking for more information about warrants in the state of Utah can also contact the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification at (801) 965-4445 directly.
What’s the Difference Between Arrest Records and Arrest Warrants?
The major difference between arrest records and arrest warrant records is that arrest records are going to provide a lot more information than warrants ever will.
Remember, warrants are simply legal documents that provide law enforcement officers and officials the right to arrest someone believed to have committed a crime, to arrest someone that has skipped bail or failed to appear in court, or to search a specific location for something equally as specific.
Arrest records, on the other hand, go far more in-depth and include information about the individual arrested, the charges that are being brought forward, the specifics of the crime, etc.
Arrest records maintained by the state of Utah are going to be handled by the Department of Public Safety, but more specifically by the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI).
Public record requests regarding arrest records should go through the BCI directly, with individuals encouraged to visit their website to gain access to the record request forms (available here) or to call the BCI offices at 801-965-4445.
Individuals can make these public record requests through the mail as well, sending a public record request form to:
Department of Public Safety
Bureau of Criminal Identification
3888 W. 5400 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84129
What’s the Difference Between Arrest Records and Criminal Records?
Arrest records are going to be used primarily by Utah law enforcement agencies to share information about the individual that has been arrested.
Criminal records, on the other hand, are going to be a much larger compilation of information pulled from multiple different sources – including the Utah BCI, the court system, etc. – that can include arrest information, court information, inmate information, and more.
What Will Arrest Records Include?
The kind of information one can expect to find on a public arrest record includes:
- Personal identifying information (name, date of birth, address, gender, etc.)
- Physical descriptions (ethnicity, hair and eye color, height and weight, any identifying marks like tattoos and scars, etc.)
- A breakdown of the arresting incident, usually in chronological order
- Location and date/time of the arrest
- Photographs and mugshots (when applicable)
- Fingerprints (when applicable)
- Information regarding any criminal charges that have been filed
- The specific classification of the crime alleged to have been committed (misdemeanor or felony)
- Bail information (when applicable)
- Court date information (when applicable)
Sometimes arrest records will even include information from witnesses and reports from the interrogation.
Who Has Access to Arrest Records?
Access to arrest record information in Utah is generally pretty simple and straightforward to receive, especially when you go through the Department of Public Safety and Bureau of Criminal Information website.
For more information about who has access to these records and whether or not specific arrest records can be requested (even if they aren’t your arrest records), reach out to the BCI for more details.
Law enforcement officials (local, state, and federal), court system officials, and attorneys almost always have effortless access to this kind of information. Individuals looking to search for their own records also usually don’t have much of a difficult time getting access to their arrest records, either.
Public record checks looking to find information about inmate records in the state of Utah will want to contact the Department of Corrections (DOC).
First, a visit to the DOC website at www.corrections.utah.gov is necessary to begin the application for the public record access process.
You’ll need to provide information about the first and last name of the inmate that you wish to find more information about or the inmate identification number that is provided by the Utah DOC upon their admission into correctional facilities maintained by the state.
Individuals running this kind of check will be notified straightaway about whether or not records exist for that particular person, and if they do then the normal application request for public records will be processed along the same timeline as most other records in the state.
What Kind of Information Does These Public Records Provide?
If the state of Utah decides to grant this request, you can expect to receive information about inmates that includes:
- Their name, date of birth, and other identifying information
- Mugshots (where applicable) and fingerprint information
- Details surrounding their conviction and the crimes that they were convicted for
- The status of their incarceration and
- Information regarding their perspective release dates
Sex Offender Records
State laws (Utah Code 77/41) mandates that the Department of Public Safety keep and maintain publicly available records pertaining to sex offenders in the state of Utah and their current status.
Individuals are able to search this full database 100% free of charge, accessing it online by visiting https://www.communitynotification.com/cap_office_disclaimer.php and agreeing to the terms of service outlined on that page.
Not only is there information about registered sex offenders in Utah, but there’s also information about kidnapping offenders and a whole host of other registered criminals in the state, too.
Anyone that wants to go through these records has the ability to do so online, paper records can be requested as well. It’s possible to even call the Utah Department of Corrections through the Sex Offender Registration Program at 801-495-7700 to get even more in-depth information than what is available online only.
As far as vital records are concerned, the state of Utah maintains birth records, marriage records, divorce records, and death records stretching back as far as 1905 – and almost all of them are available as public information.
The Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics is responsible for managing these records and the database that individuals and organizations can use to search for the details they are after.
Government agencies responsible for collecting this data (including the Utah Department of Health) encourage individuals that want to gain access to this public information to use the 100% online tools rather than call individual offices or show up in person.
The online process is much faster and much more efficient. All one has to do is visit www.vitalrecords.health.utah.gov, navigate to the “Record Requests” section of the website, and then fill out the application provided.
Individuals will have to fill out a quick form to create a new account (if they don’t have one already), will then have to prove their identity, and will finally be given access to the database and information that they are seeking.
Different records have different fees (certified copies of birth certificates and death certificates do not have the same cost, for example), but all of that is calculated online during the checkout process before you have to provide your payment information.
These records will then be sent directly to your home (or an address of your choice), providing you with hard copies of the information that has been requested. Expect this whole process to take between two and eight weeks for the records to arrive in your hands.
If you aren’t able to find marriage information in the database, know that the records from 2011 can also be found on the county-specific website where the marriage took place.
You may want to search those databases if you’re having a difficult time finding them through the Office of Vital Records and Statistics.
Any public records that have to do with businesses that are in operation in Utah or have been registered in Utah are going to be handled by the Utah Secretary of State.
The Utah SOS offices have a number of online searchable databases that they make available to the general public, helping them to find out more information regarding business public records that are available free upon request.
One of those databases, the Utah Business Entities database, can be found here. This database is useful for finding the names, status, type, and location of different businesses located throughout the state.
Those interested in researching business names in Utah to find a unique one that they’ll be able to use for their own operation are going to want to use the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code business search database (found here).
Trademark searches for records that are registered in Utah can be found in the Utah Trademark Manager tools that are managed by the Utah Secretary of State and the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, too. Use this tool to search for that information!
Public record requests having to do with historical information maintained by the state of Utah are going to have to go through the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service.
This organization has a whole host of online digital records and archives that can be searched freely and without having to make a specific request. Regular special exhibits are advertised prominently on the website for this organization, with current exhibits including:
- Utah State Park records
- Pioneer Day Jubilee Collection
- Road to Statehood Collection
- Castle Gate Relief Fund Committee Information
- Crime in Utah Collection
- The Utah State Capitol Building Collection
- The World War I Centenary Collection
Property and Tax Records
Property and tax records that are available upon public requests are going to be maintained by the Utah State Tax Commission.
Information that is available for search can include:
- Personal property records
- Certified tax rate information
- Information regarding the overall tax increase process
- Real property information
- Centrally assessed information
Those kinds of records and details can be found directly on the Utah State Tax Commission website (found here).
More specific information, including:
- Property searches by owner name
- Property searches by property location
- Information regarding specific pieces of property throughout Utah
- Appraisal details and tax assessment information
- Delinquent tax search information
- Tax payoff details
- Abstract details
- Land abstract information
- Mining document information
- Water rights information
…and more information on a county by county basis can be found by visiting the Utah County website (found here).
These databases are frequently updated (as often as every couple of weeks, and sometimes more frequently than that) and can provide much more granular information than what the more generalized State Tax Commission website can provide.
For help navigating these records, individuals can write to:
The Utah County Historic Courthouse
51 S. University Ave.
Provo, UT 84601
… Or call this organization directly at 801-851-8000 for more details.
Driving records in the state of Utah can be accessed through the Motor Vehicle Registry of Utah (MVR).
As of 2021, however, these records are only available for drivers that are looking to secure their own specific record. It’s not possible for employers, potential employers, or any other interested party to get a driving history report on another person without their express, written consent.
Requesting a record is generally a pretty straightforward process, especially since so much of it is automated online.
Visitors to https://secure.utah.gov/mvr-personal/ are going to be able to request brand-new records and re-download records they have already secured, and abstracts that offer a truncated breakdown of their driving history.
The Utah MVR also allows these kinds of records to be requested through the mail. Visitors to any local MVR office can request this information and receive it right there on the spot, too.
What Should I Do If My Utah Records are Inaccurate or Incomplete?
If, during the process of conducting a public records search information is found to either be inaccurate or incomplete, it’s a good idea to reach out directly to that government agency and alert them to the issue at hand.
Most of the time the information can be corrected almost immediately and on the spot, but sometimes the organization that has been contacted will request more information about how to best resolve the inaccuracies or incompleteness of those details.
In that eventuality, it may take a couple of weeks (or even a couple of months) for those records to be updated. Individuals may have to really stay on top of this correction process to make sure that it is successfully completed, too.
If you’ve noticed that the records haven’t been corrected or updated in about six months it’s not a bad idea to reach out again and see what can be done about fixing the errors or omissions.