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New York Public Records

The 1978 New York Freedom of Information Law defines public records as information held or produced by or for a government agency. Public records can include property records, land records, deeds, mortgages, judgments, liens, photographs, maps, letters, meeting minutes, laws, ordinances, legal papers, license information, and vital records (births, deaths, marriages, divorces).

Certain records are restricted from public access, especially those that would violate personal privacy, interfere with an ongoing investigation, expose trade secrets, or endanger the life or safety of any person.

Here you’ll find the New York public record resources that we feel will be most useful.  You can also make use of the tools on the left to explore county records, city records, and other resources such as licenses.

  • Court System - The New York court system has five levels. At the first are City Courts & Justice Courts (Town & Village Courts). Both handle small claims, small civil, misdemeanors, violations & felony arraignments. At the second level are: Supreme Courts (civil, civil & felony in NYC); County Courts (civil, misdemeanor & felony); District Courts (Suffolk & Nassau – misdemeanors, civil to $15K); Family Courts (adoption, child support, custody); and Surrogates Courts (estates, probate of wills, guardianship). Third are Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court, which hear appeals from lower courts in NYC. Fourth are Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, which review decisions from all lower courts. Fifth is the Court of Appeals, which reviews cases from lower appellate courts and death penalty cases.  New York Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Felony cases are handled at the Supreme Court and City Court levels. Misdemeanors and DWI/DUI cases are handled at the City Courts, District Courts, Civil/Criminal Courts of New York City, and the Town and Village Justice Courts. Juvenile cases are only handled in the Family Courts. The New York State Office of Court Administration provides a statewide criminal history search for $65. Otherwise, a search by county is recommended.  For more details and access to available data, check our NY Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records - New York does not freely give out vital record certificate copies. Read carefully the restrictions and instructions on our NY Vital Records page. Birth and death certificates and marriage records are available from: New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237.  Refer to our vital records page for information on ordering divorce records, and for online birth, death, and marriage databases.

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