Oregon Court Records
Are Oregon Records Public?
Under the Oregon Public Records Law, most of the records "prepared, maintained, or used" by public bodies are considered public. "Public bodies" is a general term that includes every state department, division, commission, agency, and officer. It also applies to all records and documents maintained by agencies at the county and city level, such as school districts, municipal corporations, or a city-governing body.
Public records exist in different forms, such as:
- Electronic files
- Recordings (sound and video/picture)
- Photographic films/prints
- Magnetic or paper tapes
- Paper documents
To obtain a record in Oregon, you'll need to identify the type of the record as well as the agency under whose purvey the record falls. Generally, anyone may inspect or request copies of a record as long as the document doesn't contain sealed or exempted information. Oregon's freedom of information laws extend to the various branches of the government, including:
- Legislative (e.g., documents maintained by the Oregon State Senate or the Oregon House of Representatives)
- Executive (e.g., Governor's office, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Correction)
- Judicial (documents created or maintained by the circuit courts, county courts, and other agencies of the Oregon Judicial Department).
Note: While public records include any writing created during the performance of a public function, they do not extend to the computer software used by an agency.
Who Can Access Oregon Public Records?
Generally, anyone can obtain a public record in Oregon with a few exceptions. Oregon's public record law states that "everyone has a right to inspect any public record" (ORS 192.311 – 192.478). This includes the following:
- Other legal entities
However, anyone serving a sentence in a state, county, or federal facility is prevented from obtaining public records. In addition, unlike some states, where access to public records is restricted to only residents, you don't need to be an Oregon resident to access records.
Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in Oregon?
According to the public record laws in Oregon, you don't need to provide a reason when requesting public records. Oregon laws also do not provide any restriction of use. To obtain a record, you simply need to submit a written application that clearly identifies the record you want.
However, some custodians may request a valid form of government identification, such as a passport, Military ID, or driver's license. This is necessary for multiple reasons. For instance, record custodians may sometimes waive or reduce the fee for obtaining a record depending on the identity of the requesters. The record custodian may also use the identity and motive of a requester (e.g., a journalist or NGO agency engaged in research) to decide if a document's release is in the public interest.
Note: To help simplify the process, some departments provide request forms that you can fill out during your application. Some forms must be submitted in person, while others can be submitted online or by mail.
What Records are Public in Oregon?
In Oregon, anyone can access a variety of public documents, including court records, arrest records, sex offender information, and bankruptcy records. Interested public members can find these records at their respective custodian agencies. For example, the state and local law enforcement agencies maintain online databases of all sex offenders in the state.
Oregon Public Court Records
Oregon Court records contain documents and information generated during legal proceedings across the state's court system. Except where sealed or protected by law, most of these records fall under the umbrella that's considered public, and the court clerk typically maintains records.
To look up court records, you'll first need to identify the appropriate court. Oregon's court structure consists of circuit courts, county courts, municipal courts, justice courts, and a tax court. Some records may be accessible online. For instance, the Oregon Judicial Department maintains an online search platform that grants free access to court calendars and basic case information for the Oregon circuit courts, Tax Court, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court. Record seekers can also look for information using the Oregon Judicial Case Information Network, which contains data on civil, small claims, tax, domestic, and criminal (including misdemeanor and felony) cases.
Oregon Public Bankruptcy Records
Bankruptcy records provide information about residents and companies who have filed for bankruptcy within the state. Some of the details that may be found include:
- Registrant's source of income
- List of creditors
- Businesses owned
- The chapter under which the action was filed (e.g., chapter 7, chapter 13, etc.)
- Case number
- Name of overseeing judge and bankruptcy trustee
In compliance with federal laws, bankruptcy records are processed through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Oregon. As such, most of the information becomes public and can be accessed by almost anyone. Residents can look up bankruptcy case information using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) search tool. To use the portal, you'll need to have a registered account. You'll also need some related details for the search, such as the debtor's name or case number. Records may also be accessible using the public terminals located at the different courts.
1050 SW 6th Ave #700
Portland, OR 97204
405 E 8th Ave #2600
Eugene, OR 97401
Oregon Public Property Records
Oregon property records fall under the general umbrella of public records, which means almost anyone can access them. While some records may be available online, others can only be accessed in person or via mail. Some of the information that can be found in property records include:
- Current owner
- Chain of title
- Liens to a property
- Mortgage Information
- Plat map
Public property records are generally maintained in the county or city where the property is located. Depending on the jurisdiction, you can obtain records from the County Assessor's or Recorder Clerk's office.
Oregon Public Criminal Records
Oregon criminal records contain details of convictions that occured in the state. Some of this information falls under the public umbrella, while others are restricted by law. The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Oregon State Police serves as the central repository for criminal offender information. However, access to this information is restricted to only eligible parties. Residents can request copies of their own criminal history information by submitting an application that includes:
- The subject's full name
- Other names used
- Date of birth and social security number
- Mailing address
- Required fee
The CJIS division also maintains an Open Records Portal that can be used to find records of convictions reported within the last year. Access to this service costs a non-refundable $33 fee per request.
Oregon State Police – CJIS Division
P O Box 4395
Portland, OR 97208-4395
Phone: (503) 378-3070
Oregon Public Arrest Records
Oregon arrest records are generally open to the public, except where sealed or exempted by law. Such records provide general information, such as:
- Name of the arrested person
- Date and time of arrest
- Name of arresting officer
- Description of the alleged offense.
Depending on when the arrest was made (and whether the subject was acquitted or the charges were dismissed), details of public arrests in the state can be found using the Oregon Open Records search portal. Access to this portal will require a registered account. Alternatively, residents can request public arrest records by contacting the CJIS Division. The office opens from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Oregon Public Inmate Records
Access to public inmate records will depend on where the offender is held. For instance, the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) maintains records of inmates housed in correctional facilities run by the state. Residents can search for general inmate information using the public Oregon Offender Search service. Requesters will need to provide an SID number and inmate name to use this service.
Some of the details that may be found in public inmate records include:
- The offender's name and any known alliance
- Offender's location
- Institution admission date
- Earliest release date
- Bio descriptors
- Crimes committed
- Type of sentence
- Docket Number
Record seekers can also obtain certified copies of an inmate's record by submitting a public records request to the department.
Oregon Department of Corrections
3723 Fairview Industrial Drive SE 200
Salem, OR 97302
Note: Oregon laws exempt the release of any record maintained by the Department of Corrections, as well as the State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, if the release of such records will affect the department's ability to function effectively or interfere with the rehabilitation of an incarcerated offender.
Oregon Public Sex Offender Information
The Oregon State Police provides public access to sex offender information via its online registry. It includes records of details of offenders who have been convicted of different sex crimes, from low-risk and Level 1 offenses to offenses categorized as high-risk. Alternatively, residents can request added information by contacting the department at the following address:
Sex Offender Registration Section
3565 Trelstad Ave SE
Salem, OR 97317
Phone: (503) 934-1258
Note: With the exception of level 1 offenders, sex offender records, once made public, must stay on the register for life.
Oregon Public Birth Records
Birth records contain details of births recorded across the state of Oregon. Access to such records is generally restricted for a fixed period, during which certificate may only be obtained by the registrant, spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, grandparents, and any authorized representatives. Certified copies of a birth record can be obtained from the Oregon Health Authority, while non-certified copies 50 years and older are provided by the Oregon State Archives.
To obtain copies of a birth record from the Oregon Health Authority, you'll need to submit an application that includes the following details:
- Names of domestic partners or spouses
- Date of birth (specific or a date range)
- Parent's full names (first, middle, and last)
- Relationship to the decedent
- Personal details: name, mailing address and contact number/email
You'll also need to specify the number of copies for delivery. The OHA charges $25.00 for the first record and $25.00 for each additional copy. Birth records take an average of five weeks to process for orders submitted by mail. However, delivery may take longer if payment is sent from an unrelated third party.
Oregon Vital Records
PO Box 14050
Portland OR 97293
Oregon Public Death Records
Oregon death records provide information about deaths in the state. Under state laws, records older than 50 years are open and can be accessed by members of the public. However, more recently created records can only be obtained by the following parties:
- The decedent's registered spouse or domestic partner
- Children or grandchildren of the decedent
- Parents, grandparents, legal guardian
- Any authorized representative of the groups above
To obtain public Oregon death records, you must provide enough information for a search, such as:
- The full name of the decedent (as it appears on the record)
- Full name of spouse or domestic partner
- Your name and relationship to the decedent
- Personal details: name, mailing address and contact number/email
- Date and place of death
As part of the application process, you may be required to provide documentation to prove your identity and the right to request records, such as a marriage certificate or birth record. Certified copies of a death record can be obtained from the Oregon Health Authority, while non-certified copies of any death record 50 years and older are maintained by custodians at the Oregon State Archives located at:
Oregon State Archives,
800 Summer Street NE,
Salem, Oregon 97310
Oregon Public Marriage Records
Marriage records document official unions that occur in the state. Such records are considered open and can be inspected by members of the public. The Oregon State Vital Records Office maintains and issues certified copies of marriage records recorded from 1911. However, residents can obtain even older marriage records by contacting the Oregon State Archives, which maintains information dating back to the 1800s.
To obtain public Oregon marriage records, you must provide enough information to assist with the search, such as:
- Full name of the couple (as listed on marriage license)
- Date of the marriage
- County where the marriage license was issued
You'll also need to pay the fee. The Vital Records office charges $25 for the first copy of a marriage record and $25 for every additional record ordered at the same time.
Oregon Vital Records
P.O. Box 14050
Portland, OR 97293-0050
Note: Marriage records can also be obtained by contacting the County court clerk in the county where the license was issued.
Oregon Public Divorce Records
Oregon divorce records contain official details of court actions that dissolve a marriage. Such records typically include the following information:
- The name, occupation, and age of the parties in the marriage
- The reason given for the divorce
- Date of marriage
- Decisions made by the judge
Different agencies maintain divorce records in Oregon. For instance, the Oregon Vital Records Office issues a Record of Dissolution of Marriage, Annulment, or Registered Domestic Partnership Certificate, which serves as proof of a divorce. However, this document is not as detailed as the divorce decree. In addition, the Oregon Vital Records Office provides non-certified copies of divorce records older than 50 years old.
To obtain certified copies of a divorce decree, you'll need to contact the Clerk of Court at the Circuit County Court where the divorce was granted. While some counties have records dating back 100 years, others maintain records that are even older.
What is Exempted Under the Oregon Public Records Act?
While the Oregon Public Records Act covers a broad category of records, it provides some exemptions. Records categorized as "exempted" may not be disclosed to the public. As of 2024, Oregon law includes over 450 exemptions, most of which are published online by the Attorney General.
Some common examples of records that may be considered exempt from public disclosure in Oregon include the following:
- Records containing test questions, answers, or exam data used during licensing examinations
- Any information submitted to the government in confidence
- Any information protected by federal regulations or federal law
- Documents containing information related to the appraisal of real estate before it's acquired
- Records containing any trade secrets provided to the government during grant applications
- Records containing the personal information of employees, such as their residence and personal contact numbers
- Unpublished information prepared by public educational institutions in connection with research
- Records containing social security numbers of confidential financial details
- Investigatory information that has been compiled for a criminal case
- Data provided by participants for mediation
- Information that may threaten or jeopardize the ability of the government to protect citizens
How Do I Find Public Records in Oregon?
Under Oregon's Public Records law, everyone has the right to obtain records. Record seekers can find or obtain public records in Oregon by following several general steps.
Step 1. Identify the Record Custodian
The process of releasing records is only triggered after the record custodian receives a request. But this only occurs if the application is submitted to the right agency. For instance, to obtain county inmate records, your request must be sent to the local sheriff's office in charge of the records. In general, any agency that creates or maintains a record for its public duty role becomes a custodian. That means some records may be maintained by multiple agencies at the state and county level.
Step 2. Collect Information
Once you've identified the right custodian, take steps to collect as much information as necessary to assist with the search. Some of the details that can help include the following:
- A case file or Identification Number
- Name of registrants or officers on the record
- Description of the subject matter
- The location where the record was created or filed
- The agency in charge of the record.
- The date the record was created (or a range)
Step 3. Submit a request
After collecting information, submit your request to the record custodian. Although a verbal request is legal and sufficient, written requests are more effective. The custodian's response will vary, depending on if you wish to inspect or copy a record. Requests to inspect a record are generally accommodated in person during regular business hours. However, copies may be mailed after paying the charged fee.
Can I Find Free Public Records in Oregon Using Third-Party Sites?
Free public records may be accessible on some third-party sites. Unaffiliated with the government, such platforms provide access to information aggregated from multiple jurisdictions within and beyond Oregon.
The process of searching for free Oregon public records using third-party sites is similar to some official channels. You'll need to provide some basic details, such as:
- The full name of the registrant
- The location of the record
- A case number or unique identifier (if known)
Some of the benefits of using such options include easy access to aggregated information, convenience, and access to additional services such as data analysis. However, the accuracy and number of records available may vary. When using third-party sites, ensure you verify the information provided by cross-checking it with official government sources for accuracy. You should also use reputable sites and take note of their terms and conditions and privacy policies.
How Much Do Public Records Cost in Oregon?
Oregon has no fixed-fee structure for records. Instead, public agencies are permitted to set their own fees for obtaining records, with several broad rules, some of which include the following:
- The fees must be calculated "reasonably."
- Fees may include the actual cost of obtaining the records (i.e., time for gathering and copying the records)
- Fees can also include the time spent by an attorney who reviewed the document for redactions or exemptions.
- Fees may only include the actual cost of making the records available.
As a result, public records may cost less than $5 or as much as $25, depending on the amount of time required to fulfill the request and the resources used in obtaining the records. For instance, government departments chart $25 an hour for public record requests that are fulfilled by clerical employees (office specialists, admin, etc.) and $40 an hour for any request that's fulfilled by employees in management positions (Program managers).
If your request requires the services of a professional (i.e., an IT analyst), then the fee might even be higher. However, public agencies do not always charge fees for records. Government agencies have the right to waive fees. The decision is affected by a variety of factors, such as the requestor's identity, the intended use of the record, the availability of agency resources, and the weight of public interest. Some agencies also waive the fee for any request that takes little time to process (i.e., under 30 minutes).
Note: Under Oregon's law, if the cost of obtaining is estimated to exceed $25, public agencies must first inform you and seek your consent before proceeding. In such instances, the agency may require an advance payment before the request is processed.
What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?
If your request to obtain an Oregon public record is declined, the first step is to identify the reason behind the denial. Public agencies may reject a request if it does not contain enough specific information or if the request is too broad. Requests may also be refused if the document contains sealed or protected data.
Some denials may be reversed if you're able to address the underlying issue (i.e., provide a clearer description if the original was too vague). But, if you're unable to reverse the decision with the agency, Oregon law provides multiple recourse options based on the type of denial.
- If an elected official denies your request, you can file a petition with the circuit court in the county where the official operates.
- If your request was denied by a state department or agency (and not an official), you can submit a petition to the Attorney General's office.
- If your request was to a local agency or body, you can contact the county's district attorney and request a review.
- If the petition was denied by the Attorney General's office, you can request a review in the circuit court.
Your petition must provide enough details. While petitions vary on a case-by-case basis, most petitions contain the following general information.
- Your identity
- Details of the agency or public officer holding the records
- A description of the record you're trying to obtain
- A copy of your initial request to the custodian
- A copy of the rejection from the custodian, with the stated reason.