In the State of California, any Californian can request access to public records. This is in accordance with the Public Records Law which stresses out that all state agencies and institutions are held responsible for the citizenry. Such notion roughly creates a presumption that vital records created and maintained by the public entities are therefore public and are accessible to any member of the state in need. California public records comprise of vital and court records which are housed in the California Department of Health specifically in the Vital Statistics Division, and the Department of Justice.

However, California restricts access to certain records such as criminal and arrest records maintained by the Department of Justice to legitimate law enforcement agencies, authorized applicant agencies, and those persons named on the records only. Individuals have the right to access their own criminal history information for the purpose of reviewing such for accuracy and completeness. Requests from people whose purpose is neither any of these will not be catered. In case of background checks or genealogy research, an informational copy of the desire record may be provided by such offices.

In requesting for a record, a written request is no longer needed according to California’s Public Records Act. You can actually start by making an informal request over the telephone. However, id the agency information officer cannot grant your request with the method utilized, he should be able to provide you with the necessary steps for making a formal request. A formal request entails filling out an application or request form for each vital or court record you wish to obtain. Such forms can be downloaded online or directly from the aforementioned agencies’ websites. You have to fill out such forms in its entirety with all the significant details asked.

For birth record requests, essential details needed are the complete name of the person, date and place of birth, and the complete names of the parents. For death certificate requests, you have to input the legal name of the deceased, gender, date of birth, date and county of death, and the name of spouse and of the parents. For marriage and divorce records, please indicate the county where the marriage license was issued or where the divorce was filed and ratified. Vital records requests should be referred to the Vital Records Division, Department of Health. For criminal history information requests, a live scan form must be filled out with your significant personal details. Such form must then be submitted to the Department of Justice together with the copy of an image of your live scan fingerprints.

Payment for the processing of your requests should be submitted along with the application form you have filled out. For certified copies of birth certificates, you have to pay a processing fee of $20. For death certificates, a fee of $16 is required. For public marriage certificates, $14 is requisite. For dissolution or marriage certificate, $13 is required. For criminal record requests, the processing fee is $25. Usually in California, the turnaround time for record requests takes weeks to several months. For births and deaths recorded from 1905 to 1992, the processing take is 7 weeks. Those that were recorded from 1969 to present will take 4 weeks to be processed. On the other hand, marriage and divorce records will take more than 6 months of processing time. Such estimated turnaround times may occasionally increase depending on the volume of requests received in their office. Unfortunately, the Vital Records Division does not accommodate expedited requests.

Government records can actually be obtained over the web. Several online record providers proffer the same services such as record reviews for only a minimal fee. Some record providers do not require a fee though. However, if you are the kind of person who wishes not only to cut costs but also ensures quality of the results, you can choose the independent service provider that charges a minimal fee but yields accurate and comprehensive records.

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