Public Records Law and Legal Definition

Public records are an exception to the hearsay rule, which prohibits introduction of out-of-court statements of unavailable witnesses into evidence when offered for truthfulness. The Federal Rules of Evidence allows three different types of public records and reports (subject to certain exceptions):

  1. Admission of a government agency’s records of its own activities, if offered to show that those activities occurred.
  2. Written records of observations made by public officials are admissible if: (1) the observation was made in the line of duty; and (2) the official had a duty to report those observations.
  3. "Factual findings" resulting from investigations, except when used against a criminal defendant.