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Ohio Court Records

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Are Ohio Records Public?

Yes, Ohio records are accessible to the public, unless they are classified as “confidential or exempt” under state laws. The Ohio Public Records Act guides access to public documents in the state. It also dictates the responsibility of custodian agencies and determines the process for disclosing documents. For example, it empowers the Ohio Attorney General's Office to educate public members on their rights to access public records.

The Ohio Open Meetings Act is also another regulation governing the disclosure of public documents in Ohio. However, it focuses mainly on documents generated during government agencies’ public meetings.

Under these state laws, the term “public records” includes documents created by local or state agencies. The documents may exist as microfilms, text messages, audio recordings, or written or typed documents.

Who Can Access Ohio Public Records?

Per Ohio Revised Code Section 149.43(B)(1), all public members can make the request and gain access to public records in Ohio. The state does not restrict out-of-state requesters from obtaining these records.

State or local agencies in Ohio are responsible for maintaining and issuing public documents to public members. So, interested parties must make a request online, in person, or via mail to the agency holding the records.

Nevertheless, state agencies have the legal right to withhold certain information from public disclosure. The Ohio Revised Code Section 149.43(A)(1)(a-mm) prevents the disclosure of documents that may violate an individual or entity's right to security or privacy. For example, medical records, parole and probation proceedings, and adoption records are exempt from public disclosure. Only the record subject or legally eligible persons can obtain these documents.

Per the public records law, it is not compulsory for requesters to identify themselves when requesting a public record. Furthermore, they don't need to state the reasons for requesting the record. The only exception to this rule is if the record contains confidential or exempted data.

Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in Ohio?

No, requesters are not under any obligation to state their reason for requesting public records in Ohio. Per Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B)(4), it is a request denial if a custodian agency asks for the intended use before issuing the document.

That said, custodian agencies can only ask for the requester's intended use of the document if:

  • They notify the user that it is not mandatory to state the reasons for obtaining the record.
  • They need the information to easily identify and locate the record.

Note: Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B)(4) does not apply to records classified as “exempt” under the public records law. Only legally eligible persons or entities can obtain these records.

What Records are Public in Ohio?

In Ohio, different government-generated records, including public meeting documents, are classified as public records. Publicly accessible documents may include court records, arrest records, sex offender information, and bankruptcy records.

Interested public members can find these records at their respective custodian agencies. For example, the state and local law enforcement agencies maintain online databases of all sex offenders in the state.

Ohio Public Court Records

Court records in Ohio refer to all documents generated during a court proceeding. These records may include docket sheet data, court calendars, injunctions, summons, and judgements. Furthermore, you may find these documents in electronic or paper formats at designated custodian agencies. The County Clerk of Courts is the local custodian of court records. They are responsible for providing access to court records generated within a county. In contrast, the clerks of the district courts maintain records of all court proceedings within a district. The Clerks also maintain these state-wide court records databases;

Generally, Ohio court records contain data on the defendant and plaintiff, case filing date, case information, and court summons. Nevertheless, the contents of a court record may differ based on the type of case. For example, Ohio criminal court records generally contain arrest reports, summons, notice of rights, and an executed arrest warrant.

Note: Not all court records are open to the public. Clerks of the Courts can redact portions of data that are exempt under the public records law. For example, the court will not disclose certain data on child custody cases. Also, record subjects can request the non-disclosure or “sealing” of criminal court records that don't fall under the open records law.

Ohio Public Criminal Records

In Ohio, criminal records generally feature information on the conviction history. It may include the record subject's full name, gender, age, race, arrest report, court summons, and fines. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is the state-level custodian of criminal records. While criminal court records are publicly accessible, only authorized persons can obtain criminal records at the BCI. The agency will only release the documents to record subjects and those authorized by them.

To get criminal records in Ohio, you must follow these steps:

Step 1: Write a request containing these details:

  • The record subject's full name 
  • Current address 
  • Physical identifying features, such as height, gender, age, and race. 

Step 2: Provide a complete set of the record subject's fingerprints. 

Local law enforcement agencies may provide fingerprint cards. Another option is to electronically scan your fingerprints at a local WebChecker provider. 

Step 3: Gather the required documents.

Third-party requesters need a signed consent form from the record subject. In addition, they must pay the search fee as a money order or check payable to the “Treasurer of the State of Ohio”.

Step 4: Submit all this data, along with the electronic fingerprint, at these locations:

BCI London

1560 State Route 56 Southwest 

London, Ohio 43140


BCI Richfield

4055 Highlander Parkway

Richfield, Ohio 44286


BCI Youngstown

20 West Federal Street

Youngstown, Ohio 44503


BCI Bowling Green

750 North College Drive

Bowling Green, Ohio 43402

Ohio Public Arrest Records

Arrest records are public documents and are accessible at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Local law enforcement agencies may also keep records of arrest events.

To find arrest records on this platform, you must contact the agency responsible for holding the record. For instance, the DRC maintains an online searchable portal for all arrests and outstanding arrest warrants in the state. Note that there are no time restrictions for accessing recent arrest records.

Ohio Public Bankruptcy Records

Ohio bankruptcy records contain all court documents on persons or entities that filed for bankruptcy. These documents generally contain the following details:

  • The names of all parties involved in the bankruptcy case. 
  • The case number and date of filing the case 
  • Financial data, including the gross income and the source of the income 
  • The contact details of all creditors owed 
  • The list of assets owned by the debtor
  • Docket number
  • A copy of the petition filed with the bankruptcy court.

Per the Ohio Public Records Law, bankruptcy records are public documents and are accessible to the public. The Ohio bankruptcy courts oversee the disclosure of these documents to interested public members. To look up Ohio bankruptcy records, you may opt to make a request in-person or online via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.

The PACER system is a searchable database for court records in Ohio. To use the platform, you must create an account and then choose to search by court. Next, select the bankruptcy court that oversees the record.

Ohio bankruptcy courts also process in-person requests for bankruptcy records. You may visit the bankruptcy courts at these locations:

United States Bankruptcy Court - Northern District of Ohio


John F. Seiberling Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

455 U.S. Courthouse

2 South Main Street

Akron, Ohio 44308

Phone: (330) 252-6100

Fax: (330) 252-6115



Ralph Regula Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

401 McKinley Avenue

South West

Canton, Ohio 44702-1745

Phone: (330) 458-2120

Fax: (330) 458-2451



Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse

201 Superior Avenue

Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1235

Phone: (216) 615-4300

Fax: (216) 615-4363



PNC Bank Building

405 Madison Avenue

Toledo, Ohio 43604

Phone: (419) 213-5600

Fax: (419) 213-5647



Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse

10 East Commerce Street

Youngstown, Ohio 44503-1621

Phone: (330) 742-0900

Fax: (330) 742-0902


United States District Court - Southern District of Ohio 

Office of the Clerk

Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse

Room 103

100 East Fifth Street

Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Email: Clerks_Office@ohsd.uscourts.gov



Office of the Clerk

Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse

Room 121

85 Marconi Boulevard

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Email: Clerks_Office@ohsd.uscourts.gov



Office of the Clerk

Walter H. Rice Federal Building

and U.S. Courthouse

Room 712

200 W. Second Street

Dayton, OH 45402

Email: Clerks_Office@ohsd.uscourts.gov

Ohio Public Birth Records

In Ohio, public birth records contain these data:

  • The record subject's full birth name
  • The date of birth 
  • Place where the birth occurred 
  • Date when the record was filed 
  • Both parents’ names
  • Both parents' birthplaces.

The Ohio Department of Health, via the Bureau of Vital Statistics, keeps records of birth events from December 20, 1908, until the present. Birth records prior to this date are under the purview of the Ohio Archives & Library and the Probate Court in each county. To obtain a birth record at these agencies, record seekers may generally provide these details:

  • The record subject's complete legal name 
  • Birth date
  • The mother's maiden name 
  • The county or city where the birth event occurred 

Note: There are no restrictions on who can access Ohio birth records. That said, you can make an online, mail, or in-person request for birth records at:

Bureau of Vital Statistics

4200 Surface Road

Columbus, OH 43228.

Ohio Public Death Records

Ohio death records are public documents that contain data on all death events in the state. Generally, these documents contain the following information:

  • The deceased's full name 
  • Date of death 
  • The city or county where the event occurred 
  • Both parents’ full legal names 
  • The deceased's gender

Per Ohio Administrative Code Section 3701-5-11, only death records less than 50 years old are under the purview of the Bureau of Vital Statistics. In contrast, death records older than 50 years are accessible at the Ohio Archives and Library.

To access death records from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, you must follow these steps:

  1. Choose your preferred method of accessing the record: online, mail-in, or in-person 
  2. Fill out the request form
  3. Attach a $21.50 search fee as money order, check or card payment
  4. Send the completed form and payment via mail or in person to this address:

Ohio Department of Health Vital Statistics 

P.O. Box 15098  

Columbus, OH 43215-0098  

Phone: (614) 466-2531

Note: Custodian agencies will not disclose confidential information, such as death events due to violence.

Ohio Public Marriage Records

Ohio public marriage records provide data on legal unions that occurred in the state. The data may include the record subjects’ names, residence, names of witnesses, and the date of marriage. 

Since marriage records are public documents, they are accessible at these custodian agencies:

  • The Ohio Department of Health, via the Bureau of Vital Statistics. 
  • The probate court in each county

The Bureau of Vital Statistics keeps indexes of all marriage events from January 1, 1950, until the present. In contrast, you can find certified copies of marriage records at each county’s probate court. 

To access indexes of Ohio marriage records, you can visit the Bureau of Vital Statistics at this address:

Ohio Department of Health Vital Statistics 

P.O. Box 15098  

Columbus, OH 43215-0098

Phone: (614) 466-2531

Ohio Public Divorce Records

Ohio public divorce records are documents on the dissolution of legal unions in the state. These records provide details, such as the record subjects’ names, the divorce filing date, and the county court that handled the case.

The clerk of the probate court keeps records of all divorce events in a county. To access divorce records, interested record seekers may visit the clerk of the probate court where the divorce was issued.

Note: Divorce records in Ohio are public documents, and there are no restrictions on accessing them. 

Ohio Public Inmate Records

Any interested public member can access inmate records in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction maintains aa searchable online database for all offenders, including current inmates. To access inmate records in the database, you may input the inmate's first or last name. The search result will bring up these details:

  • The inmate's incarceration number 
  • Date of birth 
  • Gender
  • Race 
  • Date of incarceration 
  • The correctional facility holding the inmate 
  • Zip code
  • Residential county.

You will also find information on the crime committed, the the docket number, and the expected date of release or eligibility for parole.

Note: Not all inmate records are open to the public. Under Revised Code § 2950.01, custodian agencies must not reveal juvenile records unless they contain these crimes:

  • Murder 
  • Aggravated murder
  • Sex-related offenses that require registering on the sex offender registry.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is situated at:

4545 Fisher Road

Suite D

Columbus, OH 43228

Phone: (614) 752-1161

Ohio Public Sex Offender Information

Per Section 2950.13 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Attorney General's Office regularly maintains a searchable database for sex offenders. The database provides information on tier 2 and 3 offenders in the state. Furthermore, it will feature a Tier 1 sex offender if the sex crime was against a minor. Through the database, public members can access the registrant’s current address, work address, vehicle number, and physical-identifying features. 

How to search for sex offender information in Ohio

You can find sex offenders’ data in Ohio via these simple steps:

  1. Visit the Ohio online sex offenders registry 
  2. Select a preferred search option; search by name, city, phone number, or internet names or emails. You can also find information on sex offenders who failed to register on the platform.

Note: Record seekers will face legal penalties if they use the sex offender record to commit offenses against the registrant.

Ohio Public Property Records

In Ohio, public property records provide information on both state-owned and private real estate. You may generally find this information in a property record:

  • Parcel ID 
  • Land characteristics, which include lot type and the number of acres. 
  • Aerial photos 
  • Property class
  • The tax and school districts of the property 
  • The auditor's appraised value 
  • Amount of annual property tax.

In Ohio, each county auditor is the designated keeper of residential or commercial property records in a region. Furthermore, they maintain an online searchable portal for all properties within the county. To search for property records, you must fill in the property owner's first or last name. Sometimes, the database may allow users to search using the property address, parcel ID, or subdivision. Some counties' property search portals also feature a map-based search.

On the other hand, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services maintains records of all state-owned properties. The ORC Section 125.903 empowers the agency to maintain a public searchable database for state properties. To find properties on the site, select the map-based search option.

Note: Property records that may endanger the lives of individuals, such as crime witnesses or law enforcement agencies, are not publicly available.

What is Exempted Under the Ohio Public Records Act?

The Ohio Public Records Act has a list of exempt documents that are not accessible to the general public. In most cases, exempt files contain sensitive data, which may violate the safety or privacy rights of certain entities or individuals. Per Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(A)(1), here are some exempt public documents in Ohio:

  • Medical records
  • Information on parole or probation proceedings
  • Data on adoption proceedings maintained by the health department 
  • Records on trial preparation 
  • Certain DNA records pursuant to section 109.573 of the Revised Code
  • Data on recreational activities or minors

How Can I Gain Access to Exempt Records in Ohio? 

You can only access non-exempt records in Ohio. Per Section 149.43(B)(1), custodian agencies have the right to redact information that is exempt under the public records law. Furthermore, record custodians may redact entire documents if the exempted information is intertwined with the non-exempted ones.

How Do I Find Public Records in Ohio?

Follow these simple steps to find public records in Ohio:

Step 1: Search for the record custodian in charge of the document. 

In Ohio, you'll find public documents at agencies responsible for producing them. For example, criminal records, inmate records, and arrest data are often under the purview of law enforcement agencies. Whereas court-related public records are accessible at the clerk of the court's office.

Step 2: Check the possible ways of accessing the record

Record custodians may provide access to public records via online platforms, email or mail-in requests, or in-person requests. In some cases, they may disclose public information through phone calls. To find this information, you may search for the agency on search engines. Some record custodians maintain a website, while others have contact information on search engine maps. 

Step 3: Check if you need to pay to access the record

You don't need to pay to access Ohio public records like sex offender information and property records. However, you must pay the search fee to access vital records and court documents.

Step 4: Send a request to the custodian agency

Some record custodians provide an online form where you can fill out the request details. In some cases, you need to send a written request form or appear in person to make a request. Note that you don't need to state the purpose of obtaining the record.

Irrespective of the request method, ensure you provide a detailed description of the required record. This will help the agency quickly process the request.

Can I Find Free Public Records in Ohio Using Third-Party Sites?

Yes, you can find free Ohio public records on third-party sites. These sites may provide data on public documents, such as property, birth, and marriage records. That said, you only need to provide the requester's details to access the site. Most third-party sites will not require your ID card before processing the request.

Note: Third-party sites may contain outdated or incomplete data.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in Ohio?

Per ORC 149.43, the record custodian must charge the actual cost of producing a copy of the public record. Note that the cost may differ based on the medium used in producing the record. For example, record seekers may pay more for records on mediums such as CDs or embossed paper.

Some agencies may also charge more for specific types of records. As of January 2024, it costs $21.5 to obtain a birth or death certificate at the Ohio Department of Health. In contrast, the Ohio Attorney General's Office charges $0.5 for paper copies of public documents under its custody.

Note: Record custodians will not include the cost of employee time spent finding public records. However, it may include the cost if it hires a private contractor to find the records. 

Can I waive the public records fee in Ohio? 

Yes. Some record custodians may waive the cost of producing public records. For example, you can waive the public records fee at these agencies:

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

You can follow these steps if a record custodian denies your public records request:

Step 1: Find out the reason why the agency denied the request.

Custodian agencies may deny your request based on these reasons:

  • The record contains documents classified as exempt under the public records law. 
  • The record is no longer in the custody of the agency. 
  • The record does not exist in the form in which the user requests it.

Step 2: Appeal and challenge the denial 

If the denial is not based on the aforementioned reasons, you can appeal the record denial. Start by initiating a claim with the local clerk of the Court of Claims. Note that you must pay a $25 filing fee and fill out a form to kickstart the process. In turn, the court will appoint a magistrate or court staff attorney to act as a mediator between the agency and the record seeker. In the event that the mediation is unsuccessful, the court will assign the case to a special master. This official will review the case and make a recommendation to the judge. Then, the judge will consider the special master's report and issue a final order.

Ohio Public Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!