According to the Florida Statute Chapter 119, public records are anything that includes the transactions of government agencies with the public. These records can be made on anything such as papers, books, film, images, and documents and in other media format. Public records such as the Florida public records are accessible by the public and can be requested anytime. There are however some parts of the public records that will have to be exempted or redacted by the Custodian due to the sensitivity of the information. Confidential information is only released to the individuals who are included, have direct connection to the report, or are designated by the government to obtain the said records.
One can make their request by writing or contacting the Office of the Custodian of Public Records. Contacting the office is the fastest way to request the information; however, for those whose requests are a bit complex, they might want to put their request in writing. The Florida public records office has a sample of the letter if one wishes to make their request in writing. Although the law states that the agency is not obligated to answer the request(s) in a certain time, it however requires the office to act on the request within a reasonable time as such processing for the request might take some time.
To request for a copy, the Law states a fee schedule that agencies must follow. It allows government agencies to charge $.15/one sided copy and $.20 for two-sided copies of the record. Certified copies cost about $1/record. The agencies must not charge above the cost of the materials and supplies used in duplicating the copies. There are however, some instances when the law allows the agencies to charge more than the amount mentioned above. One instance is when record/case(s) include court records, crash/homicide, county maps and aerial photographs. Another is when the case would require an extensive research of the records of the Office. Last is when the person requesting the information wants the record copies to be released in a media format such as a disk or tape and the agency maintains the same in the said medium/format.
In certain instances, the Custodian of Public Records would deny a request and would send the reason why the request was denied. In this instance, one can approach the Office of the General to request for a review of the denied request, file a complaint with the state attorney or file a Writ of Mandamus.
For those who want to access the public records in Florida or any government public records, the internet makes it easier for one to seek the information they need. One can check out several commercial online search sites that offer public records searching free though some would require a nominal fee for complete reports. Many of these search sites have the records arranged so it is quite easy and convenient to look for the records that one may want to view. Public records include vital records such as birth, death, marriage and divorce as well as some criminal records with convictions, abandoned properties and social securities.