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North Carolina Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are North Carolina Public Records, and How are They Created?

North Carolina Public Records

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) handles public records requests. They have a form on the North Carolina Judicial Branch for submitting requests. They provide the following disclaimer however regarding records they can provide:

"The NCAOC is not the custodian of court documents, case information, or marriage and birth certificates. NCAOC will not fulfill requests for these records.

  • NCAOC does not conduct civil/criminal background searches and cannot provide information about a person's prior charges or convictions.
  • For background searches, please see the criminal background check help topic.
  • For copies of court documents, please see the obtaining court records help topic or contact the clerk's office in the county in which the case was filed.
  • For copies of birth, death, marriage, or divorce certificates, please contact the county register of deeds office or N.C. Vital Records ."

Public records in North Carolina are created, stored, and maintained by various government agencies. Almost every branch of government, law enforcement, and division within the state has government records that are open to the public. If you cannot retrieve them through the NCAOC, you may visit the office in person to request records.

"Public record or public records shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.

The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of the North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, "minimal cost" shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information."

State Archives of North Carolina is the government agency in charge of historical public records. They preserve all different types of historical records like maps, military collections, newspapers, vital records, oral histories, government and organizational records, veteran's resources, and private collections.


How to Access North Carolina Public Records?

How to Access North Carolina Public Records

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) handles public records requests. They have a web page on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website where you can fill out an online form to request records. Basically, you need to:

  • Visit the website with the request form.
  • Fill in the top section with your personal information.
  • On the next page, select and describe the records you need.
  • Pay the fee and submit your request.

Government offices have no specific timeframe they have to comply, but the law states it should be "without delay."


Different Types of Public Records in North Carolina

North Carolina Criminal Records

In North Carolina, criminal records requests are handled by the Clerk of Superior Court Office. You may get a criminal background check for yourself or someone else easily. Their website has a copy of the form you need to fill out. You can then take it to the courthouse and pay the $25 fee to obtain the criminal records. If you only need a background check for yourself, another option is to contact the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Statewide Background Check.

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

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in North Carolina are shoplifting, simple possession of marijuana, 2nd-degree trespassing, and city ordinance violations. Popular felonies in North Carolina include first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping, and embezzlement.
  • North Carolina Inmate Search - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety 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.

North Carolina Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in North Carolina

Court records in North Carolina are maintained by each individual courthouse in the state. They have handy; self-service terminals located at the clerk's office of each courthouse. You can use them to pull up court records for any public case. Any information that is confidential will be redacted from the files. You can request paper copies also but may have to pay a fee.

Some types of court records in North Carolina 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 North Carolina court system consists of four levels starting with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, Superior Court, and then finally District Court.

North Carolina Arrest Records

North Carolina arrest records may be found by contacting local police or through the self-service court system for public records. You may also obtain North Carolina arrest records through the Clerk of Superior Court Office who handles background and criminal checks for the state.

Some different types of arrests records in North Carolina are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Simple assault.
  • Prostitution.
  • 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.

North Carolina Vital Records

North Carolina's Public Health Department is the government agency tasked with preserving all vital records for the state. They keep the following records on hand so you can obtain copies:

  • Birth Certificates: 1913-Present.
  • Death Certificates: 1930-Present.
  • Marriage Certificates: 1962-Present.
  • Divorce Certificates: 1958-Present.
  • Fetal Death Reports: 2001-Present.

You may request certified copies in person, online, or through the mail.


Other Public Records in North Carolina

Other Public Records in North Carolina

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of North Carolina 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).
  • NC 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 North Carolina?

In North Carolina, some government records or portions of records are not publicly accessible. Some examples from the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 132 are:

"(a) Confidential Communications. - Public records, as defined in G.S. 132-1, shall not include written communications (and copies thereof) to any public board, council, commission, or other governmental body of the State or of any county, municipality or other political subdivision or unit of government, made within the scope of the attorney-client relationship by any attorney-at-law serving any such governmental body, concerning any claim against or on behalf of the governmental body or the governmental entity for which such body acts, or concerning the prosecution, defense, settlement or litigation of any judicial action, or any administrative or another type of proceeding to which the governmental body is a party or by which it is or may be directly affected.
(b) State and Local Tax Information. - Tax information may not be disclosed except as provided in G.S. 105-259.
(c) Public Enterprise Billing Information. - Billing information compiled and maintained by a city or county or other public entity providing utility services in connection with the ownership or operation of a public enterprise, excluding airports, is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1.
(d) Address Confidentiality Program Information. - The actual address and telephone number of a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program established under Chapter 15C of the General Statutes is not a public record within the meaning of Chapter 132.
(e) Controlled Substances Reporting System Information. — Information compiled or maintained in the Controlled Substances Reporting System established under Article 5E of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1.
(f) Personally Identifiable Admissions Information.—Records maintained by The University of North Carolina or any constituent institution, or by the Community Colleges System Office or any community college, which contain personally identifiable information from or about an applicant for admission to one or more constituent institutions or to one or more community colleges shall be confidential and shall not be subject to public disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132-6(a).
(g) Public Agency Proprietary Computer Code.—Proprietary computer code written by and for use by an agency of the North Carolina government or its subdivisions is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1.
(h) Employment Security Information.—Confidential information obtained, compiled, or maintained by the Division of Employment Security may not be disclosed except as provided in G.S. 96-4.  As used in this subsection, the term "confidential information" has the same meaning as in G.S. 96-4(x)."