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Massachusetts Public Records

The Massachusetts Public Records Law, Chapter 66, Section 10, provides legal access to all citizens to public records. Such records are defined as those that “serve a public purpose” and can include financial statements, statistical tabulations, books, maps, papers, photographs, and recordings. Exceptions to the law include any information that would violate personal privacy, hinder open investigations, or jeopardize the safety, performance or operations of any agency.

Databases for statewide records are shown below.  Search these popular resources, or use the tools at the left to find city, county, and license records.

  • Court System – The Massachusetts court system has 3 levels. First are Trial Court Departments: Boston Municipal Court (contract & torts, small claims & non-prison criminal cases); District Court (misdemeanors, violations, minor felonies, small claims, civil cases under $25K); Housing Court (use of real property); Juvenile Court (youth delinquency, protection, offender, parental rights); Probate & Family Court (divorce, paternity, family, guardianship, domestic violence); Land Court (real property title registration & disputes); Superior Court (civil actions over $25K, labor disputes, medical malpractice, first degree murder & other felonies). At the second level is the Appeals Court, reviewing decisions of Trial Courts. At the third level is the Supreme Judicial Court, reviewing Appeals Court decisions.  Massachusetts Court Records
  • Criminal Records – Criminal cases are handled by 5 of the 7 Trial Court Departments. Boston Municipal Court handles criminal cases that would not result in prison sentences. The District Court handles all misdemeanors, ordinance violations, & felonies punishable by 5 years or less in prison. Superior Court has original jurisdiction on all first degree murder cases, and also handles felony cases. Juvenile Court handles youth offender matters. Probate & Family Court handles domestic violence cases.  Massachusetts has a stringent policy about criminal records.  To learn more, please visit our Massachusetts Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records – For certificates, contact the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, 150 Mount Vernon Street, 1st floor, Dorchester, MA 02125-3105, (617) 740-2600, Fax: (617) 825-7755.  Visit our Vital Records page to access historical birth records statewide, and current births in Worcester; the Social Security Death Index for Massachusetts, statewide historical death indexes, and available city & county cemetery records, death records, & obituaries; historical state, county & city marriages; and current Worcester marriage records.  For a certified copy of a divorce record, contact the Registrar of Probate Court in the county where the couple last lived as husband and wife. 

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