New Jersey Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are New Jersey Public Records, and How are They Created?

New Jersey has an Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which is the law dictating the general public's access to records and how government agencies must comply. The State of New Jersey Government Records Council is the agency that oversees and enforces the law. They have dozens of resources online, including a request form, some FAQs, and explicit instructions on how to obtain all kinds of government records.

New Jersey Public Records

Some additional duties this council performs are:

  • "Responds to inquiries and complaints about the law from the public and public agency records custodians.
  • Issues public information about the law and services provided by the Council.
  • Maintains a toll-free help-line and Web site to assist the public and records custodians.
  • Issues advisory opinions on the accessibility of government records.
  • Delivers training on the law.
  • Provides mediation of disputes about access to government records.
  • Resolves disputes regarding access to government records.

Many different types of government agencies, law enforcement officers, the courts, legal professionals, and individuals create public records throughout the normal course of business. Each agency stores its own records and often shares them with others."

"The Legislature finds and declares it to be the public policy of this State that: All government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State, with certain exceptions, for the protection of the public interest, and any limitations on the right of access accorded by P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented, shall be construed in favor of the public's right of access."

The state of New Jersey defines public records as "Governmental records" means any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body, or a quorum or majority thereof, or any public agency in furtherance of its official function. Without limiting the foregoing, the term "governmental records" includes any written communication or other information, whether in paper, electronic, or other physical form, received by a quorum or majority of a public body in furtherance of its official function, whether at a meeting or outside a meeting of the body. The term "governmental records" shall also include the term "public records."

The State of New Jersey, Department of State is the government entity that preserves, collects, maintains, and stores all historical public records for the state. They have various collections, including vital records, business, and economic information, arts and cultural publications, war memorabilia, as well as many government documents and other historical artifacts. You can visit them in person or review their online collections.

 

How to Access New Jersey Public Records?

How to Access New Jersey Public Records

The State of New Jersey Government Records Council provides a request form and detailed instructions on how to obtain public records. They provide the following guidelines:

  • Make sure you identify the custodian of the records you need.
  • Download the request form and fill it out.
  • Submit it to the proper agency and pay the fees.
  • Await your copies.

They have an alphabetical listing of all the government agencies available to contact for government records.

 

Different Types of Public Records in New Jersey

New Jersey Criminal Records

The New Jersey Courts have a public access portal where you can request and review criminal records. However, they only allow access for offenders who were convicted of a crime. If someone was arrested, but the charges were dismissed, then those would not be available to you. The New Jersey State Police maintain criminal histories and do supply them to the general public upon request. You may also check out the Department of Corrections for records pertaining to someone's incarceration and criminal history.

Some common types of criminal records in New Jersey include (but are not limited to):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in New Jersey are possession of marijuana, simple assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, and possession of a fake ID. Some common felonies in New Jersey include murder, manslaughter, drug crimes, and rape.
  • NJ Inmate search - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The New Jersey Department of Corrections has an online search tool you can use to locate criminals and their records.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

New Jersey Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in New Jersey

New Jersey Courts are the agency in charge of all Court records in New Jersey. They have a search portal just for criminal records. They also have another for their Municipal Courts, so you can search and find records related to cases throughout the state. As long as the cases do not violate any laws regarding access, you will be able to pull them up online and review the accompanying documents. You can also visit any courthouse in the state to request copies of court records.

Some types of court records in New Jersey include:

  • Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and evidence related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, judgments, traffic tickets, and other traffic violations, worker's compensation cases, and name changes.

The New Jersey court system consists of four levels beginning with the Supreme Court, then the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, Superior Court, and finally Municipal Court and Tax Court.

New Jersey Arrest Records

New Jersey arrest records are created, collected, stored, and shared by the New Jersey State Police. They issue criminal history reports to the general public upon request. Most requests are handled through fingerprints, but they also offer name-based searches. They do charge a fee per record requested.

Some different types of arrests records in New Jersey are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Simple assault.
  • DUI.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Petty theft.
  • DUIs.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Booking details like fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

New Jersey Vital Records

The New Jersey Department of Health and Vital Statistics is the government agency that handles all vital records for the state. They collect them, store, maintain, and issue copies upon request. They keep birth, death, and marriage records and can supply you with an heirloom or a certified copy or regular non-official certificate. They have their own online ordering service, but you can also get them in person and through the mail. This agency also maintains health statistics for the state.

 

Other Public Records in New Jersey

Other Public Records in New Jersey

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of New Jersey include, but are not limited to:

  • Government budgets and annual reports.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Maps, books, and tapes.
  • State health and wellness statistics.
  • Air and water quality (pollution reports).
  • Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Demographics.
  • Library Research.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Government employee salaries.
 

What Information is Not Public Record in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, not all records are open to the public. Some things that are exempt from their Public Open Records Act are:

  • Legislative records.
  • Medical examiner records.
  • Criminal investigation records.
  • Victim's information.
  • Trade secrets and proprietary information.
  • Attorney-client privilege records.
  • Computer and building security records.
  • Anything that would give a bidder an advantage.
  • Information generated by or on behalf of public employers or public employees in connection.
  • With any sexual harassment complaint filed with a public employer or
  • With any grievance filed by or against an individual or
  • In connection with collective negotiations, including documents and statements of strategy or negotiating position
  • Court orders.
  • "Personally identifiable information like any portion of any document which discloses the social security number, credit card number, unlisted telephone number or driver license number of any person; except for:
  • use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcement agency, in carrying out its functions,
  • or any private person or entity acting on behalf thereof,
  • or any private person or entity seeking to enforce payment of court-ordered child support, except with respect to the disclosure of driver information by the Division of Motor Vehicles as permitted by section 2 of P.L.1997, c.188 (C.39:2-3.4)."