New York State has a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) that acts to dictate access to government public records. To make things easy, NY.gov has created an online form for public records requests. You can request records from more than 50 government offices and agencies through this one portal. They call this online system Open FOIL NY. When making a request, you will need to provide some information and pay any applicable fees. If the agency you need documents from is not on the list of 50 included, you may have to visit them in person to request public records.
Government officials create public records as part of their jobs. Legal professionals, individuals, law enforcement, the courts, and criminal justice systems also create, store, and maintain public records. Often these government bodies share public records between themselves.
"The legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained when the government is responsive and responsible to the public, and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government."
New York defines public records as "any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or discs, rules, regulations or codes."
The New York Municipal Archives is the government agency in charge of preserving the state's history and public records. They collect, store, maintain, and share office records, manuscripts, still and moving images, vital records, maps, blueprints, and sound recordings. Their records date back to 1645. They tout the following as highlights from their collections:
Open FOIL NY is the place to start when you need copies of public records. The state of New York has set up a dedicated website to serve the public, and more than 55 government agencies take part in this initiative. If one of those offices is where you need records, then the process is easy. Simply follow the steps below.
If the records you require are not on the FOIL NY website, you can visit the government agency in person to request them.
Criminal records in New York are kept in two places. First, the Division of Criminal Justice has a copy of all RAP sheets. The public can request a copy for any reason if they fill out the form and pay the fee. Additionally, you can use the court system to perform a criminal history record search (CHRS) by name. The courts keep all criminal records on file as well. The general public has easy access to these records through the online portal. Sealed records, however, will not be available. The FBI also keeps a record of all federal offenses and criminal background checks, and you can contact them for details about those records.
Some common types of criminal records in New York include (but are not limited to):
Court records in New York are created, stored, and managed by NYCOURTS.gov. The centralized court website allows you to request criminal records, search through public records, file documents on a case, and perform extensive research. Their website has a court locator feature and a lot of information about the courts in NY. You can also visit a courthouse in person to obtain public records. You may have to fill out a form and pay the fee before getting them.
Some types of court records in New York include:
The New York court system is multilayered with a Court of Appeals at the top, then the Appellate Division of Supreme Court and Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court, then the Supreme Court and County Court. Some other courts in New York include District and City Court, Civil Court for NYC, Criminal Court for NYC, Town and Village Justice Court, Court of Claims, Family Court, and Surrogate's Court.
New York arrest records are very easy to acquire. All arrest records are contained on RAP sheets that are stored and managed by The Division of Criminal Justice office. They supply the public with criminal records upon request. You can also contact the NYCourts.gov system to run a name check through the CHRS system. Additionally, you can look up someone's arrest records through the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Some different types of arrests records in New York are:
New York's Department of Health is the agency in charge of vital records for the state. They collect, store, preserve and maintain all birth, death, marriage, and divorce records. You can obtain copies of certificates in person, online, through the mail, or by phone. New York uses the VitalChek system for online and phone orders. They have a printable form to use when ordering through the mail.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of New York include, but are not limited to:
Not all government records are public records in New York Some things that are "specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute;