Public Records Law
It is the policy of the Martin County Sheriff's Office to cooperate fully and impartially with representatives of the news media in their efforts to gather and disseminate factual information, where such activities do not subvert the ends of justice or infringe upon individual rights of privacy, or upon individual rights to a fair and impartial trial. (Sheriff's Policy 211)
The Sheriff's Office gets asked quite often why we release so much information to the press. Quite simply, we must. It is the law. The Florida Supreme Court has interpreted ''public records'' to mean all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge.
Public Records Definition
Florida State Statue 119.011 (1) defines public records 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, to include all:
- Data processing software
- Sound recordings
- Other materials
All such materials, regardless of whether they are in final form, are open for public inspection unless the Legislature has exempted them from disclosure.
However, there are some exemptions to the law. These are the ones that we deal with on a daily basis but there are many more, and some of the exemptions have exemptions to them:
- 911 voice recordings
- Active criminal investigative and intelligence information
- Autopsy records
- Confidential informants
- Criminal history information
- Inmate records
- Juvenile offender records
- Procedures and personnel
- Some domestic violence information
- Some victim information
- Surveillance techniques
For More Information
If you would like more information about the public records law, look at the Attorney General's Office "Government in the Sunshine Manual'. This is the book we use when there is a question or conflict on what can be released. Call the Attorney General's Office directly at 850-224-4555 for more information.