It is common for people to deal with denied requests for a public record or, worse, never hearing back. It can be frustrating because it does not make sense for public records to be inaccessible to the public. This issue can be really concerning for people with curious nature.
Many people want to know more about their potential friends and love interests before developing a personal relationship with them. There is no better way to learn more about people than to access public records.
Although it can seem tricky to access public records, everything is possible when you follow the right practices. Here are some effective tips to access public records without a hitch.
1. Consider the Law
Dealing with law, especially without any prior experience, can be a challenge on its own. You do not have to be an expert in law to access Public offices. However, it is important to read laws related to every state’s public records.
Do not just read through the state’s public records law but aim to learn its chapters and verses by heart, including the preambles and statements of legislative intent. It is best to prepare to win any argument with public officials you may have to deal with.
The Access to Public Records Act allows people to read and interpret law liberally in many states. Knowing such rights for yourself means that you can use them to create a strong argument in front of public officials, especially if they restrict you from accessing public information.
However, it is important to remember that knowing the law does not mean that you always have to be defensive. You do not have to whip out a copy of the law whenever someone asks you a question. Instead, stay collected and try to make things happen smoothly.
2. Arrange a Personal Visit
Many people submit online requests to access public records. These requests are often rejected or ignored. It can be frustrating for someone who needs to access this information quickly. Unfortunately, it can become absolutely necessary to visit a public office to access data.
Do not wait too long if you are also waiting to hear back after an email. You can visit a public office and inquire about your needed information. Many people looking for public records agree that visiting in person can yield more beneficial results than waiting for an email response.
3. Do not Hold Back
There is no doubt that officers are allowed to deny some record requests based on several reasons. However, that slight possibility does not mean that you give up your plan and head back home. There is no harm in asking some questions.
You do not have to assume reasons why officials are not allowed to let you access certain public records. Instead, ask them why they are withholding certain information. They may not be allowed to let you see the records, but they must at least give the reasons.
You must visit your state law and see if it requires the officials to provide statutory justification for withholding information. If yes, you do not have to hold back from asking. The reasons can also give you some answers to your questions and peace of mind.
4. Start Online
There is no doubt that finding the right information can be a daunting process. After all, most people looking through public records seek the complete truth, not just a fragment of it. Therefore, it is important to be thorough with your research.
You can start by looking for information online from the comfort of your home. However, it is important to remember that what you see online is just a fragment of reality. Public records are constantly being updated and improved. Hence, looking deeper and finding something that is not there is best.
You can visit the public offices to see if you missed anything while browsing online information. This way, you may find something interesting to add to your research. Even if there is nothing new, you will be satisfied by knowing the complete truth.
5. Cast a Wide Net
Looking for the right information for any purpose can be harder than you think. Many people emphasise being specific while fetching information. Yes, it can be a helpful technique to fetch the right information generally. However, you may be missing out on many things by using this technique for exploring public records.
It is better to cast a wide net and secure more opportunities when you are dealing with public records. The more information you go through, the better and more interesting results you can find. Hence, there is no need to hold back.
If you are worried about upsetting a few officials, you can simply ask them for forms and databases, as they are also a part of public data. It can be a time-consuming process to go through all the data. Yes, there is a chance that you may not find anything useful. But there is an equal chance that you may find something beyond your expectations.
6. Say No to No
You will often hear the word “no” in your pursuit of the truth. In such circumstances, it is important to be resilient and keep asking the right questions. It is possible that officials will have discretion to release certain parts of a record, and you will get your hands on the information you need.
If an agency refuses to share a record with you, do not consider it the end of the road. You can push for legal justification and information on the reason for the refusal. You can also try to reach the officials, such as the head of the agency if you feel unsatisfied with the justification for officials.
In addition, remember that record law in many states allows you to appeal an initial denial of a request for information formally. You can use this opportunity to display your expertise in legal knowledge and reflect on your rights to access public records.