Rhode Island Public Records
The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act of 1979 is a state statute that gives the public the right to access records held by government agencies. The act is codified in R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 38-2.
The act emphasizes that all public records are presumed to be available to the public unless they fall into one of the exemptions listed in the statute. The law also requires that government agencies provide reasonable access to records and outlines procedures for requesting and appealing denied requests.
How to Find Rhode Island Public Records
The first step in finding Rhode Island public records is to identify the government agency that is likely to have the records you are looking for. Government agencies in Rhode Island include state agencies, municipalities, and local school districts.
Once you have identified the appropriate government agency, you can request the records you seek. Each agency has procedures for making records requests, so it is essential to follow the specific steps outlined by the agency.
In some cases, you may be able to access Rhode Island public records online. Many state agencies provide an online searchable database of records, which can be a convenient way to find the information you are looking for.
Other ways to find Rhode Island public records include:
- By mail
- Through phone
Are Rhode Island Public Records Available Online?
The Department of Corrections has an online inmate search that you can use to find information about incarcerated offenders in a Rhode Island state prison. The Rhode Island Judiciary also has a public portal that allows users to search for court cases by case number, party name, or attorney name.
Counties in Rhode Island also maintain online records, which you can access through the county website.
What Records are Available in Rhode Island?
According to the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act, all public records are presumed to be available to the public unless they fall into one of the exemptions listed in the statute.
Some of the types of records that are available in Rhode Island include:
- Vital records
- Court records
- Inmate records
- Property records
- Criminal history records
- Driver history records
- And more
What Records are Non-Public in Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act outlines several exemptions to the general rule that public records are available to the public. Some of the types of records that may be exempt from disclosure include:
- Personnel records
- Medical records
- Law enforcement records
- Judicial records
- Adoption paper and information
- Trade secrets
- Records that would invade an individual’s privacy
For more information about which records may be exempt from disclosure, you can review the statute or contact the government agency that is likely to have the records you seek.
Types of Public Records Available in Rhode Island
Below are some examples of the types of public records that are available in Rhode Island:
Rhode Island Public Criminal Records
Criminal records are considered public records in Rhode Island and can be accessed by the general public. Criminal records include information about offenses that have been charged or convicted and about offenders currently incarcerated in a Rhode Island state prison.
You can also conduct a background check on an individual by requesting a criminal history report from the Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson Customer Service Center by mail or in person.
In-person requests must be made Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with one of the following IDs :
- Driver’s license
- State ID card
Alternatively, mail-in requests can be made by sending a notarized and signed release form along with a copy of your ID and a check or money order for $5.00 to the following address:
Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General
4 Howard Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Rhode Island :
Arrest Records and Warrants
You can request arrest records through the local Sheriff's Office, where the arrest occurred. To request an arrest record, you will need to provide the name of the person arrested, as well as the date of the arrest.
Warrants can also be requested through the local Sheriff's Office, where the warrant was issued.
Both arrest records and warrants also appear on criminal background checks. Alternatively, Rhode Island also has a most wanted list that is updated regularly and includes fugitives with active warrants for arrest.
Inmate and Jail Records
As mentioned above, the Department of Corrections has an online inmate search that can be used to find information about offenders who are currently incarcerated in a Rhode Island state prison.
Jail records are also public records and can be requested through the local Sheriff's Office where the jail is located.
Jails and Prisons in Rhode Island :
Rhode Island Background Checks
Background checks in Rhode Island can be requested for a fee from the Attorney General's Office. The background check will include information about an individual's criminal history and any outstanding warrants for their arrest.
Rhode Island follows state and federal laws regarding criminal history information for employment purposes. Employers are allowed to consider an applicant's criminal history when making hiring decisions, but they must follow specific guidelines.
The Ban-The-Box Law in Rhode Island prohibits public and private employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history on a job application. They are also not allowed to ask about arrests that did not result in a conviction or about charges that have been sealed or expunged.
How to find Sex Offenders in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island State Police maintains a public registry of sex offenders known as The Rhode Island Sex Offender Registry (RISOR). The registry covers those convicted of specific sex offenses. The registry includes information such as:
- Name of the offender
- Date of birth
- Physical description
- Home address or transient locations
The RISOR is updated regularly, and you can search for sex offenders by name, city, or county. Email alerts are also available to notify you when a sex offender moves into your area.
Rhode Island Public Vital Records
The Department of Health is responsible for maintaining vital public records in Rhode Island, which include birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.
You can request copies of vital records through:
- Vital Chek: Vital Chek is an external company with which the Department of Health has partnered to provide online ordering vital records.
- In-person: The Center for Vital Records requires an appointment for in-person requests. You need to have a valid ID as well as the fee for the requested record.
- By mail: You can request records by mail by sending a completed application form (which can be found here), a copy of your ID, and the fee for the request. You can send requests to the Center for Vital Records, Simpson Hall, 6 Harrington Rd. Cranston, RI 02920.
Processing time depends on the method of request. The fastest way to receive records is through the online ordering system, which generally takes 3-5 business days. In-person and mail requests can take up to 12 weeks.
Rhode Island Court Records
The Rhode Island Judiciary website provides an online search tool that can be used to find court case information. You can search by the name of the parties involved in the case and the case number or docket number.
Some court records are available online, but others must be requested through the relevant court. For example, if you need access to juvenile court records, you will need to contact the Family Court.
The County Court Clerk's Office also maintains court records and can provide copies upon request. There may be a fee for the copies, and you must provide identifying information.
State Court System in Rhode Island
Courts in Rhode Island are divided into two levels:
- Supreme Court
- Superior Courts
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Rhode Island and hears appeals from the Superior Courts. The Superior Courts include district, workers' compensation, traffic tribunals, and family courts, and are the state's trial courts and deal with criminal and civil cases.
Courts in Rhode Island :
The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains driving records in Rhode Island. You can request a copy of your driving record through the DMV, either online or by mail.
To do an online search, you will need to provide:
- A credit card for the $20.50 driving record fee.
- Your last name, date of birth, and the zip code that appears on your license
- Your driver's license number
Mail requests should be sent to:
Division of Motor Vehicles
Operator Control Section
286 Main Street
Pawtucket, RI 02860
Civil Driving Infractions
Civil traffic violations are tried in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, a division of the Superior Court.
Common civil traffic violations include:
- Failure to yield
- Running a red light
- Driving without insurance
- Refusing to take a chemical test
A fine and points may be added to your driving record if you are found guilty of a civil traffic violation.
Rhode Island License Plate Lookup
There is no online license plate lookup tool for Rhode Island. However, you can request records from the Division of Motor Vehicles.
You can also use third-party websites to search for license plate information. InfoTracer provides a license plate search service that can be used to find out the owner of a vehicle.
Rhode Island Property and Asset Records Online
There is no statewide database of property and asset records in Rhode Island. However, some local municipalities make these records available online. The Registry of Deeds in each county also maintains property records.
For tax purposes, the property is classified as either real property (land and buildings) or personal property (vehicles, jewelry, furniture, etc. ). Property tax records are maintained by the municipality where the property is located.
Important Government Agencies in Rhode Island
Use the following agencies to access public records in Rhode Island:
- Secretary of State
- State Governor
- Rhode Island State Archives
- State of Rhode Island General Assembly
- Attorney General
- Center for Vital Records
- Department of Health
- Rhode Island State Police
- Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Rhode Island Judiciary
- Office of the General Treasurer
- Department of Transportation
Counties in Rhode Island
List of Content
- How to Find Rhode Island Public Records
- What Records are Available in Rhode Island?
- Types of Public Records Available in Rhode Island
- Important Government Agencies in Rhode Island