How to Obtain Public Records in New York

Are court records public in New York? As a resident of the state, you have the legal right to inspect public records through the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIL). There is no standard procedure for requesting records from New York agencies because each agency has its own procedures for processing requests. You can search for Supreme Court cases and documents filed electronically in the NYSCEF (electronic filing of New York State Courts) system even if you don't have an electronic filing account. The Criminal Records Unit stores and maintains reports of crimes and lost items, and provides the information in these files to members of the public and authorized agencies, as required by law and department regulations. If you are looking for records on aspects of OSC operations, you can find them on The Open New York Book Page.

Adoption records for adoptees under 18 years of age are sealed and not available to the general public in New York State. Divorce records are sealed in New York and are only available to parties involved in the divorce process. Assisted records include cases in which a person is injured (not involving a motor vehicle), becomes ill or lost, and the service is provided by the New York City Police Department. The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIL”), established in Article 6 of the Public Officials Act (§84-90), is designed to ensure public access to government records. According to the FOIL, an agency must make records available to the public for inspection and copying, except to the extent that the records or parts of them fall within one or more reasons for denial. To obtain public records in New York, you must first determine which agency holds the records you are looking for.

You can then contact that agency directly to request access to the records. The agency will provide instructions on how to submit your request. Once your request is received, the agency will review it and determine whether or not it can be granted. In order to ensure that all requests are handled properly, it is important to follow all instructions provided by the agency. If your request is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision.

It is also important to note that some records may be subject to fees or other restrictions. Obtaining public records in New York can be a complicated process, but with a little research and patience, you can gain access to important information about your state. By understanding your rights under FOIL and following all instructions provided by agencies, you can ensure that your request is handled properly.

Rory Rabinovich
Rory Rabinovich

Hardcore beer fanatic. Avid zombie lover. Certified zombie aficionado. Infuriatingly humble social media scholar. Passionate pop culture buff.

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