Table of Contents
- 1Are Public Records Really Free?
- 2What Are Public Records?
- 3Free Local, State, and Federal Records
- 4What is Contained in Free Public Records?
- 5What is a Background Check?
- 6Why Run Background Checks?
- 7When You May Need Public Records
- 8Can Employers Find Out Everything About Me?
- 9Criminal History Records
- 10Background Checks
- 11Court Records
- 12Driving Records
- 13Missing Persons Records
- 14Jail, Prison, and Inmate Records
- 15Sex Offender Records
- 16Free Property Records
- 17Unclaimed Property Records
- 18Vital Records
If you are a small business owner, a property owner, or someone planning on hiring a contractor or freelancer in Broward County, then you may have considered running a background check. Background checks are easy when you know how to search for free public records in Broward County.
A background check is something that you can do on your own for free. The more you get used to doing background checks, the easier it will be to find what you are looking for. This guide will show you where to look for different types of public records in Broward County.
The free public records in Broward County are useful for more than just background checks. You can find long lost loved ones by searching the public records or read about a specific court case. Instead of paying someone else to access what is available for free, reap some of the benefits of your hard earned taxpayer money and access the public records in Broward County.
Are Public Records Really Free?
Public records exist because of the principle of freedom of information. Any item, document, or information that gets recorded by a government agency like the court system goes down on the public record. This means it is accessible to you—to any citizen—by law.
Of course, there are some limitations or restrictions on what you can access, when, and by whom. Sometimes you try to get free public records in Broward County and you only come up with “no” for an answer. That means that you might be asking for information that by law cannot be released to the general public.
A prime example would be credit history. Federal laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibit employers from abusing the public record to find out credit history information that could be used to discriminate against job candidates.
What Are Public Records?
Free public records in Broward County include an abundance of data and documents. Searching public records, you can find things like legislative proceedings and minutes from a city council meeting. Become a more informed and empowered citizen by accessing free public records.
Public records can also include other important documents you can access for free in Broward including court records, and vital records like recordings of births and deaths in the county.
Almost any document or data (such as photographs and digital files) that are created and stored by public service or government agencies will be considered public records.
When you run a criminal background check or when someone runs one on you, the data comes from the public records in Broward County criminal justice. Court records and felony convictions will be recorded, and available for public view. On the other hand, juvenile records are not generally available for public view and are not considered free public records in Broward County.
Free Local, State, and Federal Records
It’s a good thing you decided to start your search of public records in Broward County as opposed to the State of Florida. While you will find some documents in state archives, it is usually best to start your free public records search at the county level.
Many local law enforcement agencies in Broward County hold records that would not be available in Tallahassee. For example, most cases will be heard in county courts and not in state courts. When you want to do a free background check on a prospective employee, start by searching Broward County court records.
If you know or suspect that a person served time in a state or federal prison, then you can always search those records later.
Property records are also stored at the county level as opposed to the state level. Therefore, searching Broward County’s free public records is a great place to start.
What is Contained in Free Public Records?
In Broward County, public records include things like court proceedings and conviction records, driving records, birth records and marriage certificates. Public records can also include property records, including issues related to liens, and information related to will and probate.
It is less likely that sensitive data such as your credit history will be part of the public records in Broward County.
The law protects your right to accessing public records in Broward County. However, the law also prevents individuals or companies from abusing the information they find in the public record.
You are permitted to search the public record for legislative proceedings, as it is your right to monitor the government. This is true at the local and county level, the state level, and at the federal level. You have a right to know how politicians spend your taxpayer money.
Similarly, you are entitled to access public records that pertain to you personally. A lot of information about you—from a recorded history of your birth to any professional licenses you hold—is part of the public record. If you were convicted for a felony or misdemeanor in a court of law in Broward County, that information will also be part of the public record and visible to others. There is simply no way to avoid that. Things like your criminal history or information about your driving record are public.
However, you were arrested and charged, but not convicted, that information is technically a public record but that does not mean anyone can access it. Some records are safeguarded to protect the innocent or promote public safety. Sensitive records can only be viewed by authorized persons or agencies.
Searching public records in Broward County is generally free. The main exception would be the small fees that government agencies charge to cover their nominal expenses for printing and mailing if you need that.
What is a Background Check?
A background check is a process whereby you access free public records to find out information about a person or a corporation.
Every background check is different. You will often, but not always, search criminal records and court records. Sometimes you also want to know about a person’s driving history.
You can use a background check and free public records to find out whether a person is lying about something, which is helpful in many situations.
If you are an employer, you will especially be interested in how you can screen applicants using a free background check. Even if you have several employees to screen using the public records in Broward County, it does not take a long time once you know what you are doing.
Background checks are not just for employment purposes, but also for genealogy, settling family disputes, finding lost loved ones, and more.
What is included in a background check will depend on what you search for but also on local and state laws.
Why Run Background Checks?
Background checks seem slightly invasive in the job market, but in many situations, background checks may be required by law. For instance, employers may need to access public records to screen childcare workers and eldercare professionals who work with vulnerable populations.
Employers voluntarily run background checks for similar reasons. Even if the law does not demand that they do so, employers know they are better off screening those who they trust. The information an employer can see is of course limited to what is authorized by law.
If you are hiring a nanny, babysitter, housekeeper, or home health aide, then running a background check should be something you automatically do for everyone you consider hiring. Likewise, if you started dating people you meet online it might be a good idea to run a background check first.
When You May Need Public Records
- Tenants Seeking to Rent Homes or Apartments. Don’t assume you can just trust anyone. Broward County has a robust real estate market. Free public records checks help both tenants and landlords in Broward County avoid problems. For prospective tenants, it shows you the landlord’s track record. You might learn about the history of the property by searching Broward County public records, or discover that your landlord had been fined for tort violations.
- Landlord Researching Tenants. Property owners in Broward County almost always opt for running a free background check on prospective tenants. Insurance might demand you do so, as a stipulation for making any claim related to property damage or unpaid rent. For your own peace of mind, simply access the free public records available to you in Broward County.
- Online Dating Safety. Online dating is generally safe and fun but have you ever considered how much better you would feel if you could run background checks on the people you meet online? Many people presume that the online dating apps run background checks on people, but that isn’t always true. And besides, the online dating apps are not going to run their criminal history search through Broward County specifically but rather through statewide databases that might not yield sufficient information.
- Outsourcing for Your Business. All business owners at some point consider outsourcing some of their tasks to freelancers or companies who specialize in specific services like content marketing or coding. When you do want to outsource important tasks, it is always best to search Broward County public records first to make sure that the individual or company has a good track record.
- Contractors. When renovating your home or office, hiring contractors should not have to be a dice roll. Before you believe everything you read online, perform a free background check on the company by accessing Broward County public records. If you follow the information in this guide, you can save yourself a lot of stress.
- People Who Take Care of Your Children. Most people would agree that running a free public records check on prospective babysitters, tutors, and nannies would be considered common sense. You are leaving a person alone with your kids. Therefore, you should run a free background check in Broward County. It takes almost no time at all, compared to the peace of mind you will have knowing that the person does not have a criminal history.
- Finding Lost Loved Ones. You can search free public records in Broward County to look for missing persons or to find out if you have a distant half-sibling. You can sometimes also see if you can find out about your adoptive parents or adopted children by searching public records.
- Genealogy. Many people in Broward County access free public records to find out about birth records, marriage records, divorce and death records. You need this information to compile information about your ancestors. Even if you do not find everything you are looking for in Broward County specifically, it is a good starting point to begin with the free county records as oppose to state or federal public records.
- Checking Your Own Information. Do you know what people can see about you? Doing a Google search for your name is one thing but if you access free public records in Broward County you can find out more about what employers and others can see about you such as your criminal history. You might have forgotten about an arrest a long time ago, or did not realize that people can learn some things about you that you omitted on your resume. It is easy to check the free public records so that you are prepared to answer questions when you are called in for that important job interview.
Can Employers Find Out Everything About Me?
Employers can find out some information about your by searching the free public records in Broward County. However, employers are not authorized to access all the information that is on record about you in Broward County or Florida. The law protects your privacy, and safeguards some information. The laws do change, though, so it helps to run a public records check on yourself first and then consider what information you need to provide proper identification for versus information that anyone can access.
Employers ultimately need to comply with federal law regarding fair use of the public record. Your credit history is sensitive information, leading to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
If you are an employer or another third party checking the public records in Broward County, be sure to do the free public records check yourself so that you know it is FCRA compliant. The online agencies charging subscription services to access free public records do not necessarily protect you in this way, and the searches might not be FCRA compliant. Thus, you could run into some legal snags. If you check up on a candidate’s credit history that candidate could have a case that you used that information to discriminate.
How Can I Find….
Finding free public records in Broward County involves just a little poking around online to various local and county agencies. You can access a lot of information about yourself or another person by following this handy guide. Different government bureaus or organizations hold different types of information, and some of the data will be held at the state level as opposed to the county level..
Criminal History Records
If you are looking for Broward County misdemeanor or felony conviction records, you can do so easily online.
The best way to begin your search for free Broward County criminal records is to go directly to the Broward County Clerk of Courts website.
Searching the circuit court public records in Broward County is free and all you would need is the person’s name, the name of a business, or the case number.
Considering the majority of cases you are interested in may be tried at the county level and not at the state level, it makes sense to check the Broward County Circuit Courts first rather than go directly to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to check state records.
But if you cannot find what you are looking for at the Broward County Circuit Court level, it just might be because the case you are interested in did occur at the level of state jurisdiction. It takes very little time to run a search in both places to be sure.
Arrest records are generally not released to the general public for the primary reason that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Only after court conviction does the information become part of the public record that is free, open, and accessible. Otherwise, the arrest records and other criminal justice information will be available only for authorized persons such as law enforcement.
When you want to run a background check on a nanny, babysitter, dating partner you met online, contractor, or potential employee, you can choose to access different types of information depending on your needs.
Sometimes you are more interested in the individual’s driving record, which would tell you if you can trust the person to drive your kids to and from school.
The great thing about performing your own public records search in Broward County is that you can look for only what you seek and not irrelevant information.
If the person used to live in another county or state outside of Florida, then you may also search the public records online for that county and state.
Court records in Broward County are considered public records, and you can search the proceedings or court cases that take place in other jurisdictions too. You can access Broward County court records for free online.
Searching court records can be an integral part of a background check in Broward County. You may want to learn about what happened in a certain trial resulting in a conviction, to assess the facts of the case yourself. Perhaps you search the public records because you want to build an appeal. You can find out what happened during a case so that you are better informed about a situation.
One of the main reasons to run a background check or perform a public records search on a prospective employee or contractor is to find out about driving history. Driving records will include additional information, some of which can be accessed for free by anyone and other information that might not be accessible except to authorized persons.
You can run a simple driver’s license search to make sure the person’s license is valid by searching here.
Alternatively you can learn more about a person’s driving history and driving record by going to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The information you find can be useful for making hiring decisions.
Missing Persons Records
When a child or adult is reported missing in Broward County, it would have been reported to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.
Alternatively, you could check the local police department as opposed to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. For example, if the person was reported missing in Fort Lauderdale, you could check the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Department maintains an online record of the persons who have been formally reported missing in Broward County.
Yet the way it works with abducted or missing persons is that the individual is frequently transported across county lines, and possibly even across state lines.
Therefore, it may be helpful to perform a simultaneous free public records search on the Missing and Endangered Persons Clearinghouse, which is part of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Jail, Prison, and Inmate Records
You can search Broward County jail and prison records to find out about an inmate, or the status of a former inmate.
To a limited degree you can even search free public records in Broward County for arrest records and the status of a pending case.
Many people will be incarcerated in county and local jails and prisons and not in state prisons.
You can also easily do a Florida Department of Corrections inmate search.
Sex Offender Records
One of the ways to keep your children safe, and protect local schools, is by accessing free public records in Broward County. The law mandates the maintenance of a convicted sex offender database. This database is considered free public record, which you can easily access online.
To search the free public records in Broward County for convicted sex offenders, use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.
Free Property Records
Property records are usually stored at the county level. If you are interested in buying or selling a property, or are researching a family estate during a probate case, you can Search free Broward County public records for information about things like foreclosures. Broward County property records may also offer you insight into title and deeds, liens, and other information.
Unclaimed Property Records
When a person moves out of Broward County, out of Florida, or passes away, they may have forgotten about disused bank accounts and safety deposit boxes.
They might also forget about unclaimed insurance payouts, unclaimed wages from things like severance pay at work, or unclaimed deposits for rent or public utilities.
When this happens, the state will temporarily maintain control over those funds and safeguard them, but does not confiscate them.
In fact, the rightful owner of those funds can reclaim them at any time by providing proper identification. If you are the owner of the original funds or the rightful heir to them, it is easy to search the free public records in Broward County to reclaim what is yours.
One of the best ways to find unclaimed property in Broward County is to go to the Florida Department of Financial Services to begin your search.
Anyone can search the free public records, but you will need proper identification to actually claim the funds.
One of the most important and common reasons for searching free public records in Broward County is to find vital records.
What are vital records?
Birth certificates, marriage licenses and records, divorce records, and death certificates.
These data are stored at the county or state level, and it helps to do a search for both.
To search for Birth Certificates in Broward County, go to the website of Florida Health.
You can search in person, by mail or phone, or online.
If you search for birth certificates in Broward County online, you will be using a third party system used by most government agencies in the United States known as Vital Chek.
Vital Chek searches do incur a small fee for processing and producing the legally valid birth certificates and other vital records you may need.
For marriage records in Broward County, go to the Broward County Clerk to find the marriage license.
You would also go to the Broward County Clerk for divorce records and cases that took place in Broward.
Like birth certificates, death certificates are stored at the state level by Florida Health.
You can search Florida Health in person, by mail, or by phone. Or you can use Vital Chek online.
We hope that you are more relaxed and confident about your free public records search in Broward County, now that you now how easy it is to find information.
If you are doing a background check on an employee or on successive job candidates, you do not need to sign up for paid services. You can do it all yourself.
Some public records are stored at the local and county levels, making it sensible for you to begin your search for Broward County public records and then perhaps search for Florida records or out of state records if necessary.
The amount of information you can find for free online can be astonishing to some people. Some information is technically public record, in the sense that it is generated by the government, but you do need proper authorization to access it.
Similarly, you can find out information about yourself online. Performing free public records searches in Broward County is helpful for people looking for lost relatives or retrieving unclaimed property from a family will or estate.