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Arkansas Public Records

State law defines public records as documents and data in any form kept by public offices. The original Arkansas Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1967. It stated that all public records shall be open to inspection by any citizen, with certain exceptions.

These include state income tax records, grand jury minutes, drafts of unpublished judicial opinions, records from ongoing investigations, identification of undercover law enforcement personnel, closed court documents, and any records that would invade personal privacy.

Statewide AR databases are catalogued below for you.  These are the most often used and sought resources at the state level.  For additional records, use the tools in the left-hand menu.

  • Court System - There are five levels in the Arkansas court system. At the first level are the 89 City Courts, which handle misdemeanors, preliminary felonies, and civil cases less than $5,000 and operate in small communities lacking District Courts. At the second level are the District Courts, responsible for the same case types as City Courts, but with countywide jurisdiction. They include a small claims division. At the third level are the Circuit Courts, which are general jurisdiction trial courts. The 23 Circuit Courts oversee criminal, civil, probate, domestic relations, and juvenile cases. At the fourth level is the Court of Appeals which is divided into seven districts and handles cases on appeal from lower courts. At the top is the Arkansas Supreme Court, the highest appeals court in the state.  Arkansas Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Misdemeanors, traffic cases, DWI/DUI cases, and preliminary hearings for felonies are handled at the City and District Courts. Felony and juvenile cases are handled at the Circuit Court level.  To access databases and learn more about criminal records in AR, refer to our Arkansas Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records – Birth & death certificates, and informational marriage & divorce certificates are provided by: Arkansas Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, Slot 44, 4815 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205, (501) 661-2174, Fax: (501) 663-2832.  Be sure to read the access restrictions on our Vital Records page.  There we have consolidated resources for birth, death, divorce, and marriage records in Arkansas.

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