Idaho was one of the earliest states to commit to government transparency with the passing of the Idaho Public Records Act in 1990. Since then, the state has made several amendments to their public records laws. The complete laws and regulations are contained in Section 74-102 of the Idaho Statutes.
The Idaho Public Records Act defines what documents and materials are considered public records as well as who has a right to access them and how they are to be maintained. This list is longer than in some other states and it’s useful to be familiar with it in case you need a document that you think is part of the public record but is in fact not, due to confidentiality considerations. This is especially true for records held by law enforcement agencies.
Of course, such exceptions are only logical and aimed to prevent obstruction of the work of the relevant government agencies. Exceptions are also made with regard to eligibility for access to personal records such as birth certificates, marriage or divorce records, or death certificates, as well as personnel files.
The most commonly requestion Idaho public records are vital records. These include Idaho birth and death certificates as well as marriage and divorce records. You can get almost all vital records and statistics from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The earliest records available for births and deaths is July 1911. The oldest marriage or divorce records available are from May 1947. Birth records are considered confidential for 100 years while death, marriage and divorce records are confidential for 50 years. After that time period all records are considered public records and available by anyone for genealogical research.
Idaho vital records can be ordered online through a third-party vendor, VitalChek, that the state has partnered with. They can also be ordered by mailing a completed form and payment to:
Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0036
Criminal records can be accessed from the Bureau of Criminal Identification, which is Idaho’s hub for all such records, fingerprints and crime statistics. Criminal record checks are most commonly requested for licensing and employment purposes and can include fingerprint background checks, and name-based background checks. For fingerprint background checks, the applicant must submit a fingerprint card that contains a full set of prints, the person’s name and aliases, date and place of birth, and reasons for the fingerprinting. The card must be accompanied by a filled in application form and payment of the respective fee, either by a cash check or by card, debit or credit.
Name-based background checks are performed after submitting a filled in form and the required fee. The Bureau of Criminal Identification warns, however, that any search will be more accurate with a fingerprint card since it is a common practice amongst criminal offenders to use an alias or false personal information. What’s equally important to note is the fact that although a waiver is not a necessary part of a public records application, you would need a waiver if you want to access records of arrests made more than 12 months before the submission of the request. These records are not freely available to agencies and individuals outside the criminal justice system without a disposition. If you include a waiver, the signature on it must be no older than 180 days from the date you submit the application for a name-based background check.
For court records of all types from 1995 to date, the central repository is the Idaho State Judiciary where you can view both pending and closed cases. Older court case records are available at respective courts across the state, including county and municipal levels.