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At some point, every resident of Franklin County, Ohio needs to locate public records. Whether you use them for criminal background checks, to gather your own vital records for an application or a name change, or to search for long lost relatives, public records are yours for the taking but first you need to know where to look. That is why this guide exists: to help you find free public records for Franklin County. What you learn here can also be applied to finding public records in any other county in Ohio or any other state in the United States.
You may not know much about public records at all, and that is another reason why you came to the right place. This guide will explain what public records are, what they contain and don’t contain, and how to use them.
One of the most common uses of public records is for criminal background checks, but there are a lot of other reasons why you need to search for court documents, property records, and more.
Even if you know nothing about public records yet, you probably are aware that governments function as bureaucratic organizations and bureaucratic organizations love to keep records. Record keeping is actually a very important public service. Without records, there would be no accountability and without accountability there would be no democracy. Accessing public records is your right, and the government has made it as easy as possible—considering the glut of information contained in these records—for you to find what you are looking for when you need it.
What’s more, public records are technically free. You may have to pay for printing or mailing or other nominal service fees but your taxpayer dollars are really what funds the creation, storage, and retrieval of these records. So read on, and before long you will become an expert in finding the free public records you are looking for in Franklin County, Ohio.
Looking to find records in the State of Ohio? Check out our guide on locating all Ohio public records.
What Are Public Records?
First, let’s talk about what public records are so you know what you can expect to find when you begin your search. You may have heard the term “free public records” a thousand times before without fully understanding what the term actually means. You also might not know how to begin the search for specific records, given that there are many levels of government and different government agencies. For example, if you are seeking property records for Franklin County, Ohio you go to the county government websites but other records are kept by the state government agencies. Don’t become bogged down or overwhelmed. The digitalization of public records makes it easier than ever before to find what you are looking for fast.
Definition of Public Records
Whether in Franklin County, Ohio or anywhere else in the United States, public records include all documents and data including multimedia such as photographs and digital files that are created and stored by public service or government agencies. Even when the government outsources the job of record-keeping, you still have the legal right to access the free public records according to various state and federal laws.
Now, what you choose to do with the records you find is another matter altogether, as you will see when you use free public records for criminal background checks on potential employees or tenants.
Also remember that some public records will not be released to you to protect someone else’s privacy or to protect national security or trade secrets.
What Information Will I Find in the Free Public Records?
You can find all sorts of information in the free public records in Franklin County, Ohio. Public records include things like court proceedings—for both civil and criminal cases. These court records can tell you about the outcomes of trials, whether a person was found innocent or guilty, and what evidence was presented in court. You can use this information for your own research, such as to build an appeal or to find out if a person or organization was involved in litigation.
Another thing you can find in the free public records in Franklin County, Ohio is related to inmates serving time in correctional institutions or serving an alternative sentence like probation. You can use this information to contact a person you know or to learn about how much time is left on the individual’s sentence.
You can learn about a will, probate, or estate related to your family. By searching the public records, you can find out if a benefactor left you money you do not yet know about—something called unclaimed property. Similarly, you can search the Franklin County free public records for property tax information or to do a title search on real estate.
Vital records are important to you. These include your birth certificate and marriage license, as well as divorce records. You can also get copies of death certificates, which are important in some legal cases. Driving records are also public records in Franklin County, Ohio.
Because a democracy cannot function without freedom of information or open government, you are also fully entitled to search legislative records and the proceedings from town hall meetings.
Information related to your credit history is sometimes visible but there are laws that safeguard your privacy and prevent other people from using such information against you, such as to discriminate if you are applying for a lease on a new home.
What is a Background Check?
One of the most common reasons people search for free public records in Franklin County, Ohio is to do a background check. Also known as a criminal history check or a criminal records check, a background check is a process whereby you access free public records in Franklin County, Ohio or anywhere else the person may have lived in the past.
You would search for specific information such as whether the person was convicted of any crime or was fined in a civil suit. This type of information is useful for screening applicants for a job or tenancy. You also need this information for insurance purposes to show you did your due diligence. In fact, some jobs mandate the use of criminal history checks. You need to do background checks to keep yourself and your family safe.
Why Run Background Checks?
If you are applying for work in the childcare, healthcare, education, or eldercare sector, or are working with hazardous materials, you will likely need to submit to a criminal history background check in Franklin County, Ohio.
If you are an employer in Franklin County, Ohio, it is always a good idea to run a criminal background check just to be safe. Imagine if you did not run criminal background checks and were then robbed or vandalized. The insurance company might find out that you did not run the background check and refuse to honor your claim. So do the right thing and run a simple background check. Using this guide, the process of running a criminal history check will not take very long at all and costs next to nothing.
You could pay for third party services to do background checks for you, but if you use this guide you can save yourself a lot of money. Plus, you will assure yourself that you are complying with state and federal non-discrimination laws. Do not risk a costly lawsuit. Instead do your own background checks.
Running a background check cannot tell you everything about a person but it can often tell you enough to make sensible hiring decisions.
Especially when you are hiring a nanny, babysitter, housekeeper, or home health aide in Franklin County, Ohio, you need to run a background check immediately.
Consider the following situations for running a free public records search in Franklin County:
You just moved and are looking for a home or apartment. If you just moved to Franklin County, Ohio and need to rent a home or apartment, it is a good idea to run a background check on the landlord or property management company. Most likely they will want to run the same type fo background check on you to make sure you are trustworthy and are not going to trash the place. You also have the right to run a background check on the person so that you know if they have a history of tort violations, civil litigation, or even criminal negligence.
Screening Tenants. It is important to run background checks on all tenants in Franklin County, Ohio. Keeping in mind that you need to comply with state and federal non-discrimination laws, you can do a background check as long as you have the signed consent of the person involved. With their authorization you can find the free public records you need to make an informed decision. However, you may not be able to use the person’s credit history against them in your decision.
Hiring Employees. Criminal history and background checks are common practice in Franklin County, Ohio. Small business owners need to be especially wary of applicants. While you cannot use a person’s credit history against them in your hiring decisions, you may be able to scrutinize people based on their criminal history if it is relevant to the position.
Safety in Online Dating. Online dating is great. You can meet friends online too. But the way people present themselves online is often incongruous with who they really are. A person with a criminal record is unlikely to disclose that information to you willingly. The only way you can find out if a person has a criminal record or is lying about their marital status is to check the free public records in Franklin County or any other place the person may have lived. Protect yourself by running a free background check first.
Contractors and Freelancers. Renovating your home? Outsourcing some task for your company? Hiring contractors? It always pays to run a criminal history and standard background check on a person or company before signing the check. You never know what you may find. If anything goes wrong, you need to show the insurance company that you did your due diligence.
Childcare, Babysitters, Tutors, and Nannies. Leaving your children in the hands of strangers is not something you should ever take lightly. Even if you think you know the person, you should always run a quick background check. Similarly, if you are hiring people to take care of your elders, run a background check. Even if the childcare or eldercare agency seems legitimate, you can run a background check to find out about pending or past lawsuits or even criminal cases.
Genealogy and Finding Long Lost Loved Ones. Many people access the free public records including vital records from Franklin County, Ohio for genealogy purposes. Or, you can use the public records in Franklin County, Ohio to locate long lost relatives, half brothers and sisters, or adopted relatives/biological parents. By the same token, the free public records in Franklin County, Ohio will reveal current missing persons records, too.
Checking Your Own Information. You should use the free public records in Franklin County, Ohio to find out what the government has on you so that you are armed with that information and prepared to field those tough questions in an interview. You could very well have forgotten about a DUI or a similar case you were involved in long ago. Likewise, you might not realize that some items on your personal public records are false and the search will give you the opportunity to correct that information.
Protecting Your Privacy
Freedom of information ensures that all citizens have a right to access the free public records. However, your privacy matters just as much as freedom of information. Employers and landlords must in fact comply with federal law regarding fair use of the public record.
For example, your credit history is sensitive information. It should not be used to discriminate against you in hiring or housing decisions. This is why the federal government passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
When you conduct your own free background checks in Franklin County, Ohio, you can be more certain of conducting the research compliant with federal law like the FCRA. A FCRA-compliant background check means you are more protected from anti-discrimination lawsuits.
Third party background check services often promise you they do their work in an FCRA-compliant manner but the only way to be sure is to run your own free background checks.
How Can I Find….
Time to get down to business and find free public records in Franklin County, Ohio. We will begin with some criminal background check information and proceed to vital records.
You can search the court records in Franklin County, Ohio as part of an overall criminal history or background check.
Keep in mind that these records are specific to Franklin County, Ohio.
If you are searching for information about a statewide case or a federal case, you will need to look within that specific jurisdiction. You can use our other free public records guides for that purpose.
Franklin County Background Checks
For general Franklin County public records for running a background check, you can visit the website of the Franklin County Recorder.
Driving records in Franklin County are kept at the state level, not the county level.
The exception is minor traffic violations that took place within Franklin County, Ohio. For these free public records, you can go to the Franklin County Traffic Violations Bureau.
For this reason, you will go directly to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to find what you are looking for.
Within the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio BMV will release information to the individual and requires that person to authorize any other person (such as an employer) to access those driving records.
Missing Persons Records
When an adult or child has been officially reported missing in Franklin County, Ohio, records will be kept and generally all records will also be sent to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Abductees and runaways often cross county and/or state lines.
For this reason, your best bet is to go directly to the Ohio Attorney General.
The Ohio Attorney General has a Missing Person’s Search on the website.
Jail, Prison, Inmate Records
Information on current inmates serving time in a Franklin County, Ohio jail, prison, or other correctional institution can be found through the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
You can search for inmates by name or case numbers. This is useful if you are seeking a friend or family member because you want to visit them or send money. Similarly, victim restitution programs often entail meeting a current Franklin County inmate.
The information you find may also be helpful for if you want to know how much time is left on a person’s sentence or to know about their hearing or court dates.
Keep in mind that not all inmates will be serving time in a Franklin County correctional facility and may be in another county’s correctional institution or in a state or even federal prison.
Sex Offender Records
Laws generally require the maintenance of a sex offender registry to protect the general public. You have the right to know if there is a convicted sex offender or violent felon living in your area or near your child’s school.
For that reason, check the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office sex offender registry.
Property records such as title searches, liens, and deeds are typically kept at the county level so you have come to the right place.
If you are interested in buying or selling a property in Franklin County, Ohio, or are using the information in a probate or other case, you can search the free public records.
Property records in Franklin County, Ohio are kept by the Franklin County Auditor.
Unclaimed Property Records
Unclaimed property records are totally different from real estate property records in Franklin County, Ohio.
Unclaimed property refers to money and virtual funds, as well as items left in a bank’s safety deposit box.
Unclaimed wages, unclaimed deposits from rent security or utilities, dividends from stocks and bonds, and other property is often neglected.
If a person moves away or passes away and forgets about these funds, the state assumes temporary control and safeguards that money for the rightful owner or the rightful beneficiary.
Therefore, you can search the unclaimed property records and claim what is yours.
One way is to search through the Franklin County Probate Court.
Another way is to search for unclaimed property through the Franklin County Auditor.
Finally, you can also search the Ohio Treasurer’s Office for unclaimed property
Vital records are aptly named—they are vital to your identity.
Your vital records start with your birth certificate. The record of your birth is critical for proving your identity, your name, and your very legal existence.
You need to access your vital records frequently, especially when you are changing your name, applying for some kind of formal document such as a driver’s license or a professional certification, or moving to a new area.
The vital records are usually kept by public health agencies and also include death certificates, marriage and divorce records that are important for population health data and census information.
The Franklin County Clerk/County Recorder keeps the vital records of people who were born, married, or who died within the county.
You can therefore search these vital records easily by visiting the website of the Franklin County, Ohio County Clerk.
Thank you for reading our handy guide to locating free public records for Franklin County, Ohio.
If you did not find what you are looking for, then you can always expand your search to other counties in the state of Ohio or other states. People do move around a lot, meaning that public records could be located in other government agencies.
Remember the importance of exercising your right to access free public records. Whether you are doing a background check or applying for a new job, the public records are yours and have become a critical part of life in the modern world.