California Public Records

The California Public Records Act or CPRA was signed in 1968. The CPRA made governmental records available to the public upon request, except those records which have specific exemptions from being viewed by the general public. The exempt records include any that would violate another's privacy, or interfere in active investigations or pending litigation. The California Department of Justice defines "Records" as "any writing owned, used or maintained by the Department in the conduct of its official business. Writings include information recorded or stored on paper, computers, email, or audio or visual tapes."

Most California public records can be requested from the proper state or county office. Trying to find where to request certain records can be confusing. Local governments are split into four basic units: cities, counties, special districts and regional bodies. The special districts, as the name implies, have a special purpose such as fire protection, waste disposal, etc., in the area they cover. California has over 4,800 special districts. Regional bodies extend beyond local city and county boundaries and are concerned with air and water quality, as well as other important commissions.

Local information on public records access can be found on the county pages (under construction). In general the services the city and county officers performs remain the same throughout California:

  • Administrative office: Purchasing agent for the County, handles media relations and employee recruitment.
  • Assessor's office: Property valuation and taxes.
  • Auditor-Controller's office: Budget control, periodical audits, property tax administration; controls the tax roll, calculating tax and general obligation bond rates, allocating property tax revenues, and reconciling with the tax collector.
  • County Clerk's office: Issuing marriage licenses, processing passport applications, registering and maintaining voter files, verifying petitions, filing campaign statements, conducting elections in the county are a few of the duties of county clerks.
  • District Attorney's office: Investigates and prosecutes criminal violations within the County, legal advisor to the Grand Jury, Victim/Witness Assistance Program

A Brief History of California

California is the 31st state and was admitted into the union in 1850. It is located along the Pacific coast of North America and is bordered by Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. It is known as 'The Golden State' largely due in part to the gold rush that occurred in the middle 1800's, which also lead to massive settlement in the area.

California's diverse background includes multiple Native American groups as well as early claims by English, Portuguese, Mexican and Spanish bodies. California finally became part of the US as a spoil of the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848). Early on the economy was based in trade (furs, gold, etc) and agriculture. Today, California is a capital to multiple US industries including high tech, music, film, aerospace, wine and agriculture and is the highest gross state product in the country accounting for nearly 13% of GNP. In fact, if California were it's own country, it's economy would be in the top 10 of the world (not accounting for budget deficits).

California is the 3rd largest state and the largest population in the USA; only Alaska and Texas encompass more land area.

Fast Facts:

  • Capital City:
  • Biggest City:
  • Population:
  • State Bird:
  • State Flower:
  • State Tree:
  • Nickname:
  • Sacramento
  • Los Angeles
  • 33.9 Million
  • California Quail
  • California Poppy
  • California Redwood
  • Golden State

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California State Government Records

Executive Branch:

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Legislative Branch:

Unclaimed Persons Database Search
Information from coroner’s offices, medical examiner’s offices, and sheriff’s departments regarding a deceased loved one for whom next of kin has never been located.

Guidelines For Access To Public Records

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State Directories and Further Info

Click for large California county map.

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CA COUNTIES

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