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Are Wyoming Records Public?

The majority of government records created in Wyoming are considered public in accordance with the Wyoming Public Records Act. Under the act, public records include all information created, obtained, or accepted by a governmental entity while transacting public business. In Wyoming, the record’s mode of transmission or location of exchange is irrelevant to its public status. The state also considers requests submitted for these records as public. Some examples of public records include inmate records, property records, bankruptcy records, Wyoming death records, and sex offender information.

The Wyoming Public Records Act classifies public records into two categories, including:

  • Official Public Records

According to WY Stat § 16-4-201(a)(vi)(A), official public records include all records necessary to prove transactions connected to the disposition or use of public income or public property. These records include receipts, original vouchers, claims against a government agency, agreements, contracts where a public agency is a party, and all records kept by or filed with a Wyoming public agency as required by law. This category also includes records or documents considered official public records by the State Records Committee.

  • Office Files and Memoranda

Wyoming Law WY Stat § 16-4-201(a)(vi)(B) describes office files and memoranda as documents and information not classified as Official Public Records. These include exhibits, correspondences, drawings, blank forms, booklets, books, and other records and documents. The category also comprises all records and reports created for the agency’s internal administration purposes, whether or not the law requires that such documents be filed or kept with the agency. Lastly, office files and memoranda include all records and documents considered so by the State Records Committee.

Note: The Wyoming Public Records Act does not mandate custodian agencies to create records as required by requesters. However, WY Stat § 16-4-202(d)(ii) states that if requested, the agency must provide alternative electronic file types for records primarily or solely in an electronic format. Agencies must comply with this law unless providing such alternatives is impossible or impracticable.

Who Can Access Wyoming Public Records?

All persons may obtain public records Wyoming agencies create. Under WY Stat § 16-4-202(a), agencies must provide requesters with access to non-confidential public records at reasonable times. Also, state law does not restrict access to residents or citizens.

However, Wyoming law gives agencies some leeway regarding public access to these records. The Public Records Act allows government entities to create their own rules and regulations if considered reasonably necessary to protect the records or prevent unnecessary interference with the agency’s duties.

What is Exempt Under Wyoming Public Records Act?

The Wyoming Public Records Act considers certain records confidential and therefore ineligible for public disclosure. Per WY Stat § 16-4-203(a), custodians must withhold access to any records where the following apply:

  1. Access would contravene state statue
  2. Access would contravene any federal regulation or statute
  3. Access is prohibited under rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, or under an order by any court of record

In addition to the above general exceptions, the following specifics also apply in Wyoming:

  • Investigative Records

According to WY Stat § 16-4-203(a)(b)(i), the public cannot inspect or obtain copies of investigative records or intelligence information created or kept by any law enforcement authority, including (but not limited to) a sheriff, police department, city attorney, county attorney, or the attorney general. This exemption also covers security procedures created or compiled by any law enforcement entity for investigative or prosecution purposes.

  • Examination Records and Related Data

All examination data - including scoring keys and test questions - related to a licensing, academic, or employment examination are exempt from public disclosure. However, persons of interest can inspect but not copy or reproduce written promotional examinations, scores, and results. The public should note that access allowed to such persons of interest must be after the conduct and grading of the examination.

  • Research Projects

Custodians in charge of bona fide research projects operated by any state institution cannot release related information to the public. Specific details about such projects must be treated as confidential at all times.

  • Real Estate Appraisals

The public cannot obtain a governmental entity’s real estate appraisals containing details of planned acquisitions or other interests in the property is proposed for public use. These appraisals must remain confidential until the property title has passed to the public agency. However, this exemption does not restrict the property owner’s access to the appraisal.

  • Memoranda Related to Litigation

Custodians must withhold all interagency or interagency memorandums if such memoranda should be primarily unavailable to any party in litigation with the governmental entity.

  • Building Records

Building records of any structure operated, leased, or owned by the government must be treated as confidential if such records could jeopardize the building’s security, facilitate a terrorist attack, or endanger the physical safety or life of any individual. Such records include, but are not limited to, vulnerability assessments, emergency and security procedures, building plans, schematic drawings, blueprints, operational manuals, or internal layouts. (WY Stat § 16-4-203(b)(vi))

  • Health Records

According to WY Stat § 16-4-203(d)(i), all health records that contain medical, sociological, and psychological data on any person are exempt from public disclosure. However, custodians may grant access to coroners’ verdicts and written dockets.

  • Trade Secrets

Privileged information, such as trade secrets and confidential financial, commercial, geophysical, or geological data is considered confidential and therefore exempt.

  • School District Records

Records that contain information on a student’s academic performance, religion, physiology, family, and mental or physical ability, are not public information. These details may only be released to a person of interest, or an official appointed or elected to supervise the student.

Where Can I Access Public Criminal Court Records in Wyoming?

Wyoming criminal court records are accessible from the courts that heard the cases. The Wyoming Judicial Branch consists of Municipal Courts, Circuit Courts, and District Courts, with Circuit and District Courts handling most criminal cases.

Anyone interested in public criminal court records may send an application to the court as required by the court’s clerk. For instance, record seekers may request Laramie County court records from the county’s District Court Clerk or Circuit Court Clerk in person, by mail, or via email. Record seekers may also gain public access to free Wyoming court records through the Wyoming Judiciary’s Case Search platform. Interested persons must note that payment methods and copy fees may differ between counties.

How Do I Find Public Records in Wyoming?

The process required to find Wyoming public records may vary between record types and custodians. However, there are general steps each record seeker must take to obtain desired records. The Wyoming Public Records Act mandates record custodians to allow the inspection or duplication of public records to the extent permitted by the law. The steps below illustrate how to do a public record search in Wyoming:

  1. Figure out the type of record
    Public records are available at custodian agencies in different formats. Persons seeking Wyoming public records must first decide the type of information they need. For instance, information on whether or not an individual is divorced requires a request for Wyoming divorce records.
  2. Determine the agency in charge
    Wyoming public agencies maintain records containing information related to their statutory functions or as required by law. The type of record desired usually helps to identify the agency that created or maintains the record. For example, persons who need copies of state bankruptcy records may contact the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court.
    Requesters should note that some information may be obtainable from more than one governmental agency. For instance, interested persons may obtain divorce information by requesting a divorce decree from the District Court Clerk in the county of divorce, or a Wyoming divorce certificate from the state’s Department of Health.
  3. Create a request
    After identifying the agency, the next step is to create an official request for the record. Custodian agencies usually provide members of the general public with varying request options. Wyoming law states that record seekers must submit applications to the record custodian and defines an application as a written request for a public record. Regardless, a designated records custodian may use their discretion to accept a verbal request as official.(WY Stat § 16-4-201(a)(ix)).
    All record seekers must ensure that an application for a public record contains the following details:
  • The specific type of record, especially if requesting from a governmental agency that maintains multiple types of public records
  • Information contained on the record. This includes names, relevant dates, locations, and other applicable details.
  • The requester’s full name, contact information, and other personal details if applicable
  • The payment as stated by the custodian
  • Means of identification if applicable
  • Preferred record delivery method
  1. Submit the request
    Requesters may then submit the compiled request as preferred by the agency. Possible options may vary, but usually include in-person, mail, fax, phone, and online submissions. In most cases, mail requests require longer processing periods than other options. However, certified copies of requested records may only be obtainable via mail and in person. Requesters must also ensure that they adhere to each agency’s specific request instructions to avoid delays.

Using Third-Party Sites

Some public records may also be accessible from third-party websites. These non-government platforms come with intuitive tools that allow for expansive searches. Record seekers may either opt to use these tools to search for a specific record or multiple records. However, users must typically provide enough information to assist with the search such as:

  • The name of the subject involved in the record (subject must be older than 18 or not juvenile)
  • The address of the requestor
  • A case number or file number (if known)
  • The location of the document or person involved
  • The last known or current address of the registrant

Third-party sites are not sponsored by government agencies. Because of this, record availability and results may vary.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in Wyoming?

Wyoming public record custodians may set reasonable fees for producing copies, photographs, or printouts of any non-confidential record. If fees for certified copies are prescribed by law, the custodian must follow the law’s specification instead of using their discretion. Nonetheless, WY Stat § 16-4-204(a) states that no custodian must charge a fee as a condition for making public records accessible.

The Wyoming Public Records Act also states that requesters should be granted access to desired records for the purpose of making copies if the custodian does not have the facilities required to do so. However, if the custodian can do so but requires other resources, the requester must bear the cost of using said resources.

How Do I Look Up Public Records in Wyoming for Free?

Access to free public records may be limited. The Wyoming Public Records Act states that request fees should not be a condition for making public records available to the public. However, the act also authorizes record custodians to set reasonable request fees, especially where no law states otherwise. Requesting for physical copies of public records usually costs varying fees, depending on record type and volume.

Free public records Wyoming entities generate or maintain may be available online, depending on the type of record. Some Wyoming agencies provide public access to databases with free but uncertified records. For instance, members of the public can use the Wyoming Offender Locator to find free information on inmates in the Wyoming Department of Corrections’ custody.

Persons looking to access public records for free may also request inspections instead of copies. Some agencies may allow interested requesters to obtain records free of charge by inspecting them in person at reasonable times.

Do I Need to State My Purpose When Requesting Public Records in Wyoming?

The Wyoming Public Records Act does not require record seekers to provide a statement of purpose when requesting public records. Requesters may inspect or obtain copies of public records as long as they are considered non-confidential. Wyoming also does not restrict the use of obtained public records, provided that such use does not contravene any laws.

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

Record seekers have the right to take action against government agencies that deny access to public records. According to WY Stat § 16-4-203(e), displeased applicants can ask the custodian agency for a written statement containing grounds for the denial. In its response, the agency must cite the law or regulation backing the denial. If the provided reason is unsatisfactory, the requester may do one of the following:

  • Apply to the District Court with jurisdiction over the area where the record is located. The court may request that the custodian further explain the denial, or compel production of the record. The District Court may also waive any fees charged by the custodian agency
  • File a complaint with the ombudsman designated by the governor to handle complaints. The ombudsman may mediate any disputes between the requester and the custodian agency, prescribe a timeline for the production of the records, and waive request fees.

How to Remove Names From Public Search Records?

Because several different databases may contain an individual’s name, removing a name from public search records is not a straightforward process. Persons looking to do this must first find out the respective records that contain their names and confirm that removal is possible.

In most cases, the only way to prevent access to a public record is to either seal or expunge the record. Interested persons may send petitions to a court of appropriate jurisdiction to seal or expunge a particular record. However, there are laws that govern this process.

For instance, Wyoming law does not allow the expungement of felonies such as murder, robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, child abuse, and manslaughter, among others. In addition, convicted persons can not expunge a felony more than once, and must wait at least ten years from completing the sentencing requirements before starting the process. For qualifying misdemeanor convictions, the convicted person must wait at least five years.

When a record is expunged, record custodians seal the record from public access. All rights denied to the subject of the record are usually restored immediately. In some cases, other records created as part of the initial case may also be expunged. However, parties must note that expunged records are still accessible by law enforcement agencies when required for an investigation.

Even after expungement, the information may still be publicly available. Newspaper articles and related media publications that contain information on the expungement may still contain details.

What is the Best Public Records Search Database?

Deciding on the best public records search database largely depends on the type of record. For each record, the best public records search database is the registry or record management system the custodian operates. For example, the best place for a Laramie County public records search for sex offenders is the sex offender database provided by the Sheriff’s Office. The public can also conduct a Natrona County public records search for property records using the property search tools from the Treasurer’s and Assessor’s Offices.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Wyoming Public Record?

The Wyoming Public Records Act states that record custodians must immediately release records to applicants as long as the release does not impair the agency’s ability to carry out its duties. If the records are in storage, active use, or otherwise unavailable at the time of the request, the records personnel must immediately forward the request to the person with custody of the records, and also inform the requester of this situation within seven days. If the record is not in the custody or control of the custodian agency that received the request, the agency’s records personnel must also notify the applicant of the record’s unavailability within seven business days from the date of receipt. However, this notice must contain the name and contact details of the relevant custodian if known. Nonetheless, all public records must be released a maximum of 30 days from the date of acknowledged receipt.

Record seekers must note that the act allows custodians to stretch the 30-day deadline for good cause. Under WY Stat § 16-4-202(c)(iv), such instances require the agency and the applicant to agree on a release date for the records. If both parties cannot reach an agreement, the applicant may file a complaint with the governor’s appointed ombudsman, to mediate the disagreement.