Public Records Law

Mary Linhard, Custodian of Public Records
(772) 320-4679

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.

Florida State Statue 119.011 (1) 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.  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.  Listed below 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, active criminal investigative and intelligence information, autopsy records, confessions, confidential informants, criminal history information, some domestic violence information, 911 voice recordings, juvenile offender records, inmate records, surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel and some victim 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. Contact the Attorney General's Office directly at 850-224-4555