Originally Cherokee territory, DeKalb became an Alabama county in 1836. You can find many DeKalb County public records from around this time up until the present though the bulk of the available material doesn't start until 1908 when the state made it a legal requirement to record births and deaths.
For the most part, you may be able to get certified copies of some vital records, depending on the age of the record and your relationship to the person on the certificate (more details on that below). You just have to fill in the application forms and take them to the health department office in Fort Payne. Show your ID, pay the associated search fees and you will typically have your certified DeKalb County public records in about half an hour.
If you prefer a postal option, you can either send your paperwork by mail to the health office but also to the Vital Records office in Montgomery. That is the state office, and they have full access to all DeKalb County public records. Their turn-around time is usually between 1 and 2 weeks. If you are not visiting the health office, you can print out the request forms from the Alabama Department of Public Health website.
DeKalb County Birth Records
For 125 years, all DeKalb County birth records are held confidential. The only people who can access a record during that time are immediate family members or the person who is actually on the birth certificate. And by immediate family, they mean children, parents, siblings or spouses. Other relations are not permitted access until the privacy period is up. The cost to get a DeKalb County birth record is $15, and additional copies are $6 each.
DeKalb County Death Records
DeKalb County death records are also $15 apiece, and also have a waiting period associated with them. With death records, it is only 25 years. So you will be able to make a request for anyone's death certificate after 25 years, regardless of their relationship to you. The information included may vary by year, with old records having only the name, and place and date of death. Newer records may also include parent's names, occupation, residence and cause of death.
DeKalb County Marriage Records
You won't find any limits or restrictions with DeKalb County marriage records as they are fully public domain documents. You can place your request for anyone's marriage records, for the $15 fee. The state started to collate marriage records in 1936 but the county has being doing it for a lot longer so you should be able to retrieve records from much earlier than that. Divorce records are also open to the public, starting in 1950.
DeKalb County Criminal Records
Criminal records in Alabama are not freely accessible to the public and you will only be able to order a copy of your own criminal background. DeKalb County criminal records are not held by the county, but are under state jurisdiction. You can send a request for your records to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (they are in Montgomery) and the cost per copy is $25.