New York Public Records

In New York, there are two different ways of accessing public records depending upon your location.

New York City has a unique Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) that is different from the rest of the state. FOIL requests are sent to the New York Police Department (NYPD), which operates independently from the rest of the city laws. In some cases, the NYPD has its own arbitrary rules regarding the release of public records.

Getting New York public records can be a cumbersome task. This guide will help you understand the procedure of getting public information.

New York Public Records Law

New York public records law states that the agency must acknowledge a request within 5 to 20 days of submitting it. This includes legislative, executive, and state agencies.

The latest residency requirement states that the requester can live anywhere in the US and request public information under the FOIL. Once you get the public records, the requester has an option to file an appeal within 30 days.

A public records request is in written form and addressed to the NYPD. As per law, the NYPD can either issue the records, or a "neither confirm nor deny" acknowledgment.

Criminal records, arrest warrants, and background checks fall under the Division of Criminal Justice System (DCJS). However, you cannot access anyone’s criminal records except yourself. The law requires signed consent from the concerned individual if someone else wants to access their criminal records.

The Division of Criminal Justice System (DCJS) either issues the arrest records or replies with “no records.” This implies that there are no criminal records present under the individual’s name.

Common Types of New York Public Records

The public can access four main types of New York public records, including:

New York Criminal Records

Law enforcement agencies such as the local police department, FBI, and the NYC court have access to all New York criminal records. You can file a request to view someone’s criminal records as part of a background check for employment, marriage, business partnership, or even adoption. However, consent must be given by the individual themselves to access New York criminal records.

A criminal record contains the following information:

  • Personal information (name, nationality, gender)
  • Arrests and arrest searches
  • Mugshot
  • Warrants and reports
  • Complete set of fingerprints
  • Identification features (tattoos, birthmarks)
  • Details of all crimes committed.

New York Court Records

The Unified Court System in New York State manages all records of court proceedings. This includes detailed information of:

  • Initial arrest
  • Court filing
  • Case files
  • Court minutes and transcript
  • Jury records
  • Witness documentation
  • Final verdict (judgment and sentencing)

Unlike criminal records, court records cannot be accessed under New York’s FOIL. Disclosure of court records falls under the judiciary law, Section 255.

However, all court records are available online via the New York State Unified Court System. The website provides both case files and court decisions regarding judicial cases.

New York Vital Records

Vital records include birth and death certificates, as well as marriage and divorce deeds. These public records are needed to enroll in school, start a new job, or apply for a social security card or driver's license. People also seek divorce deeds before getting married again and obtain death certificates to settle debt or property ownership.

Vital records are often needed for identification and legal purposes. They can be accessed by registering an online request to the Department of Health in New York. You can either receive a copy of vital records online or via mail.

New York Inmate Records


Lawyers, victims of crime, or witnesses often request inmate records for a court proceeding. In other cases, it might be beneficial to access someone’s inmate records before signing a business contract or getting married.

It is easier to view inmate records as compared to criminal records since it does not require you to register a formal request. New York inmate records contain the following information:

  • Personal information (name, gender, date of birth)
  • Mug shot
  • Holding facility
  • Registration number of the inmate
  • Release location
  • Custodian status

To access inmate records in New York, you can contact the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Their online tool helps you search for an inmate by name, department, or year of birth.

How to Access New York Public Records?

Public records can be accessed by registering a formal request to the concerned department or by searching online through the official website. Record-holding departments can receive requests via email, phone call, or mail.

Criminal records, court records, vital records, and inmate records are all managed by different departments. There might be a variation in rules across departments, which is why it is better to contact them first.

Typically, a public records request should contain:

  • Requester’s name and contact information (phone number, mailing address, email)
  • Document required and details of the record
  • Time duration within which the records are needed
  • Preference of receiving the document (email, mail, or in-person)

Some public records can be accessed via public libraries where you can use a name-based tool to search for them.

Background Search in New York Using RealPeopleSearch

Accessing public records in New York can be a tiring task. If you are wondering how to do a background check on someone, then you can use the RealPeopleSearch tool.

Whether you want to find some information about a date or research your new roommates before moving in, the RealPeopleSearch background check tool can help you access public records without hassle.

When you search for someone using RealPeopleSearch, they will not be notified. All you need is their name, phone number, or email address to get a detailed background check.

RealPeopleSearch’s background check tool gives you access to the following information:

  • Criminal records or past arrests
  • Marriage and divorce records
  • Sexual offenses
  • Educational and employment history
  • Residential addresses
  • Social media accounts

Since the tool is linked to hundreds of public record databases across the US, you can access maximum information for a comprehensive background check on anyone.

Here’s how you can run a background check using RealPeopleSearch:

  • Go to the homepage of RealPeopleSearch.
  • Enter the individual’s first name, last name, and city in the search bar on top of the page.
  • Click on 'Search' and wait for a detailed list of results to show up. If multiple people match the details, you can narrow your search by adding more filters and specifying the state.

Final Thoughts

Running a background check on anyone can be helpful in many cases. You might want to know about someone's past before sharing a room with them or going on a date. Vital records can also tell you if someone has been married or divorced in the past. This information is important before committing to marry someone.

The most common type of New York public records include criminal records, court records, vital records, and inmate records. Most of these New York public records can be accessed by searching for the official government websites.

Requesting for public records through a proper government portal requires you to inform the person you are searching for. To avoid this, you can use the reliable RealPeopleSearch online tool. You can conduct a quick check on anyone without them finding out.

With RealPeopleSearch, you can access sensitive information such as public records without visiting any government offices. All you need is the person's full name, and you can access all their public records online instantly.

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