The Florida legislature passed the first laws in 1909 regarding public record laws. Freedom of information laws grants residents, students, researchers, concerned citizens and journalists the right to obtain records from their government. Certain laws are particular to specific agencies as there are limits and protections which apply. The open government sunset review act of 1995 allows for periodic review and repeal of the exemptions. The purpose was to give the government transparency and to provide its citizens access to open agency records. However, the law is not limited to records for sole purpose of scrutiny. Residents also benefit from the FOIA when trying to locate lost or misplaced records such and vital records and certificates, crime reports, recorded land and real estate deeds, certifications, permits and other information held by state, local and county departments.
Florida, also known as the sunshine state, became a U.S. territory in 1921 but entered the union in 1845. The state of Florida has 19 million residents in its 67 counties. The first two counties ever formed were St. Johns and Escambia. In 1925, the last county formed was Gilchrist. The purpose of counties being formed was for the state to provide services to local areas. The state also has 411 cities, towns and villages with the state capital being Tallahassee. Largest cities presently include Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. The idea of forming cities originated in Europe, specifically Spain and England. Cities were formed by the legislature to allow for local power as its citizens were requesting. This gives local decisions to citizens governing themselves, such as taxes, local law enforcement, public utilities, administration, planning and development. The state government is run by the governor. The governor's cabinet consists of the state's attorney general, commissioner of agriculture and chief financial officer. The state’s legislature is broken down into 23 congressional districts, 120 house districts and 40 senate districts.
The state economy profits from a large variety of industries. Other than producing approximately 75 percent of the U.S. orange production, including growth in the electronic, financial sectors, tourism, space industry and agriculture make other large part of the economy. Due to Florida having a steady influx of first time residents, construction is generally one of its important industries. Almost half of exports to South America are through Florida’s ports.
Background of criminal histories can be obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Justice Information Services online for requests by the general public as well as specific employee screening purposes. Local police stations provide separate reports of incidents, arrests and persons in custody. The Miami division of the FBI conducts federal Identity History Summary searches for limited purposes. Instant searches are offered for inmates in custody of the state correctional facilities, wanted offenders and people finders.
Individuals and companies in Florida request records for various personal and business purposes. Residents of Florida request records such as birth certificates to establish identity when applying for a passport. Divorce certificates and decrees are recorded and copies are provided by the clerk’s office and the Florida department of health.
Official certificates are available from the Bureau of Vital Statistics Records Section, see the eligibility guidelines and the various methods for ordering. Newspaper searches public local obituaries, current events of incidents and area listings. There are fourteen different databases listed for the state of Florida to help locate individuals using people finders in public directories found in both government agencies and private entities.
The Florida county courts have jurisdiction to hear cases involving torts, contracts, real property rights ($5,001/$15,000), other miscellaneous civil matters, exclusive jurisdiction to hear small claims matters involving an amount in controversy of $0-$5,000), exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases involving misdemeanors, DWI or DUI, and other miscellaneous criminal matters. Its exclusive jurisdiction further extends to traffic or other violations, except parking violations (which are handled administratively). County level courts hold venue to preliminary hearings.
Florida circuit courts hear tort matters, contract matters, real property rights matters ($15,001/no maximum), and other miscellaneous civil matters, have exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases involving mental health, estate, and civil appeals matters, exclusive jurisdiction over domestic relations matters, felony matters, and criminal appeals matters, will also hear juvenile matters, and hold venue to preliminary hearings.
Florida district courts of appeal hear (have "mandatory jurisdiction") over cases involving certain civil matters, noncapital criminal matters, administrative agency matters, juvenile matters, original proceeding matters, and interlocutory decision matters. District courts have discretion to hear (have "discretionary jurisdiction") cases involving various other civil matters, noncapital criminal matters, juvenile matters, original proceedings, and interlocutory decision cases. Supreme court has mandatory jurisdiction to hear cases involving certain civil matters, capital criminal matters, criminal matters, administrative agency matters, juvenile matters, disciplinary matters, and advisory opinion matters. Its discretionary jurisdiction extends to other various civil matters, noncapital criminal matters, administrative agency matters, juvenile matters, advisory opinions, original proceedings, and interlocutory decision matters.
Search state repository for criminal records in Florida.
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement Computerized Criminal History
The state's law enforcement offers the public background checks of an individual's criminal history of offenses occurring in Florida. Records of individuals which have been arrested and or fingerprinted. Results are returned online after selecting records or can be emailed. Information can include felony and misdemeanor convictions.
- Florida Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Office
Obtain criminal background checks, name checks or request FBI records.
- Florida Wanted Person Information
Search database of Florida warrant information.
- Florida Department of Corrections Inmate Search
Identification includes, name, description, known aliases, scars, marks and tattoos. Search results will list prisoner's offense, sentence and release dates, sentence and incarceration history, past detainers, county, case number and sentence length. Inmates incarcerated in these prisons are convicted felons and sentenced to a minimum term of one year.
- Florida Sex Offenders Registration Photos Location and Alerts
State registry of sexual offenders, most wanted, missing and important public service announcements. Services to resident include receiving email alerts when a predator has moved into an area. Victim information and safety tips with resources for families, child safety and guides. Find email addresses and IM names under an offender. Conduct a standard or guided search in your neighborhood or near schools.
- Florida Most Wanted
Current posting of fugitives and absconders from the FL Crime Information Center.
- Florida Criminal Record Expungements
Information and resources to assist in expunging criminal records state and nationwide.
Access arrest records directly from Florida law enforcement agencies individually. Request information of incidents, charges and details from state and local police departments. Records division contact information and requirements to order official reports.
- Florida Department of Highway Patrol
Accident reports, traffic safety and more
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Investigations, forensics, domestic security and more
- Florida Attorney General
Civil, criminal and appellate courts
- Florida State University Police
Investigations, records, training and more
- Florida County Sheriff Criminal Reports
Directory to county Sheriff offices and reports in Florida.
Search government agencies open to the public to find assets of companies, corporations, or individuals.
- Florida Division of Corporations Access to Recorded Documents
Search corporations, LLC's, LLP's and business documents under an individual's name, the registered agent, trademark name or document number. Fictitious business name filing inquiries reveal status of the company, owner information, copy of the registration application and available document images. View information about judgment liens detailing information of the court, debtor, creditor, amount and more. Online public database access and results.
- Search Business filing in Florida
Find general info, check name availability, filings and search corporate records.
- Florida Property Appraisers Interactive Record Search and GIS Mapping
Search property by owner's names, addresses, geographically or sales price range. Results will reveal parcel number, owner information and address, property assessment and value, sales history, building characteristics, out buildings and other features.
- Florida Tax Collectors Reports of Real Estate, Business and Assessments
Tax search, view payments, review property taxes and history. Tax deed sale notices and basic information about the real property. Escrow payments, deed express and county held certificate reports. View real estate tax notices showing taxing authority, tax rate and amount.
- Florida Property Records
Obtain property tax info by contacting Florida statewide official records.
- Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property Search
Lookup past dormant accounts under your name reported by retail and commercial banks, an insurance company, securities, utility companies and trusts. An individual's name or business name search returns results online without fees. Reports will show property type, the reported owners data, property type and name of the reporting company holding the unclaimed property.
- Florida Statewide Professional License Record Search and Verification
Lookup state issued licenses of various professions and businesses instantly online. A directory of professions from all agencies statewide and fields of practice. Licensees can be searched by name, firm or location. Various fields or industries can reveal different details, most online results will show status, bond, education, expiration and effective date.
- Florida Official Recorded Document Online Search and Public Requests
Documents recorded by the state of Florida are available online for public retrieval. Initial searches will show title and type of document, date, county where recorded, instrument number, brief description and parties. Further details regarding a particular filing can be requested with minimal fees online revealing all data collected and recorded. A general query can include one or more categories of recordings under individual's and businesses.
- Florida Statewide Commissioned Notary Verification
View detailed information of the notary's name, commission issuance date, status, expiration date, bonding agency and mailing address. Freely access the state's instant database of all notaries commissioned and bonded in Florida.
- Florida Office of Financial Regulation License Data
Consumer services to verify the status of a license registration held by finance companies, collection agencies, lenders, brokers, dealers and businesses that offer money services. Responsible for oversight for financial services. Resources include filing complaints, applying for licenses and public data. Research reports issued the agency, administrative actions, prohibited names and statistics.
- Florida Financial Institution Search
Lookup banks, credit unions, savings and loans, trust companies and international bank branches operating within the state. Online information available includes name of entity, location, contacts, when location was opened and status. Listings of in-active as well as active financial institutions.
Florida's court system is comprised of various levels and jurisdictions ranging from small claims to the state's Supreme Court. The state's Supreme court is located in Tallahassee with 7 judges. 5 District Court of Appeals, trial courts such as 20 Circuit courts and county courts make up lower level of the state's judicial system. Circuit courts in Florida have general jurisdiction in Florida and hear felony criminal cases, civil filings of over $15,000, divorces, probate, juvenile/guardianship matters and appeals from the lower county courts. Online electronic filings systems have made many court services available online for public use. Each level of the courts have sites to contact clerks, calendar of up coming cases and up to date filings. As newer technology is introduced, resources to online visitors are improved to be more cost effective and promote paperless transactions.