Section 119.011(1), Florida Statute, defines "public records" to include all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency. "Custodian of public records" means the elected or appointed state, county, or municipal officer charged with the responsibility of maintaining the office having public records, or his or her designee.
The County Clerk is the custodian of public records that are generated by residents as well as various agencies that operate within a particular county. At the state level, various governmental departments are responsible for maintaining other forms of public records.
Recorded information that is more commonly and specifically referred to as being part of the Florida public record
are: property deeds, mortgage documents, motor vehicle registration, marriage records, divorce records,
criminal/traffic-related offenses, birth/death records, court rulings/judgments, property appraisals,
property tax records, professional license registration, and corporation/business filings.
Despite the goal by various organizations to make public records more accessible, the proverbial gap between
public records, and the very public they were intended to reach remains significant. Numerous professionals access Florida public records on a daily basis. Most notably, Law Enforcement officials,
attorneys, journalists and private investigators make frequent use of public records to obtain information on persons
of interest. What is not widely known, however, is that the information being accessed in these instances is also
available to anyone.
The Sunshine State Records Now public records program was originally established to bridge this gap between public
records and the public by introducing public records access to those who were previously unaware of their rights to
access this information.
As a result of the Internet, various forms of information that would normally take days or even weeks to access
by traditional means, can now be accessed in real time. In turn, the advent of the Internet has also allowed public
records access to be much more timely as well.
Over the last few years, the Sunshine State Records Now program has been helping people conduct public records searches
via the Internet by combining various public records sources into a convenient, easy-access search utility.