Statutory Citation: Al. Code §36-25A-1 et seq.

Definition of Public Record

The Alabama Public Records Law under Al. Code §36-25A-1 et seq. grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Banking, juvenile court, hospital and probation reports; identity of Medicaid recipients; reports of suspected disease cases; tax and financial statements. 2

Who Can Make The Request?

Anyone. However, due to the language of the law not specifying where one must be a citizen from, Alabama can deny a request because they are not an Alabama citizen. This is a rare occurrence. 3

Response Timeframe

No fixed timeframe

Information on Fees

The Attorney General’s office in Alabama has historically stated the following opinion regarding fees; “If possible, a public agency should provide free copies of public records. However, if budgetary constraints prevent this, then a public agency may charge a nominal fee, if necessary, to cover its costs in providing copies of public records. One may inspect public records without paying a fee unless a substantial amount of an employee’s time is required.” In practice, this isn’t always the case. Search fees can only be charged if a substantial amount of an employee’s time is required in searching according to the Attorney General. Duplication fees run the following:

Criminal justice records not more than $25 Appellate records $5 for one to ten pages and $0.50 per page for than ten Public safety records not more than $15 Each individual driving record is $5.75 All other records are up to the specific custodian to decide on an appropriate fee. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

Due to there being no designated records custodian in the Public Records Law of Alabama, and there being no language in the law itself outlining enforcement of the law, enforcement is spotty at best and the requester has to be his own enforcer in many ways. Part of the Alabama code on tampering with governmental records can be read to apply to the Public Records Law. A person commits the crime of tampering with governmental records if; (1) “He knowingly makes a false entry in or falsely alters any governmental record; or (2) Knowing he lacks the authority to do so, he intentionally destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes or otherwise substantially impairs the verity or availability of any governmental record; or (3) Knowing he lacks the authority to retain a governmental record he refuses to deliver up the record in his possession upon proper request of a person lawfully entitled to receive such record for examination or other purposes.” Ala. Code § 13A-10-12(a) (1994). This is punishable with a one year jail sentence, however the Attorney General does not have power to enforce the Public Records Law himself. Any citizen or media source that wishes to self-enforce this law must do so in court by filing a civil action. 5

Attorney Fees


Do You Want to Make a Public Records Request?

The public records process begins with a public records request. Our guide outlines best practices for drafting well-defined requests for public information.

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Questions? Contact the Goldwater Institute.

If you have any questions regarding this guide or your rights to public information, please contact the Goldwater Institute at to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

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