New York Court Records
What are New York Civil Court Records
New York civil records are public records that contain details of court proceedings involving legal disputes between two parties, which occurred in the state. Civil cases in New York are of non-criminal, military, or ecclesiastical nature. Documents of civil cases are available in the format, such as dockets, transcripts, and case files, which are usually maintained by the Clerk's Office, wherein the case was heard. New York civil court records can be requested by mail, in person, or online, and the cost of copying or certification may be charged. Although these records may be available to members of the public living in the State of New York, some individual civil court records cannot be retrieved by the public because they contain sensitive information.
Notwithstanding, interested requestors may seek to challenge the trial judge to obtain such records, and if the reasons are worthy, the court may grant permission. Asides with court permits, law enforcement agencies, and legal advisors of the registrant, may also have access to confidential civil court records. Applicants may also use third party sites such as CourtRecords.us to obtain civil court records that may prove elusive.
Are New York Civil Court Records Public Records In New York?
Unlike most states in the United States, the Freedom of Information Law does not grant the citizens of New York the right to obtain and use court records maintained by government agencies, local authorities and law enforcement agencies. However, access to New York civil court records by members of the public is provided under Section 255 of New York's Judiciary Law.
In exceptional cases, public access to civil court records may be restricted if the record has been exempted from public disclosure. Examples of such records are cases involving a juvenile offender, divorce, matrimonial proceedings (child custody, visitation, and maintenance), adoption proceedings, mental competency proceedings, and other cases where the identity of the victim has to be protected. Confidential records in New York can only be retrieved by the persons whose name appears on the record, their legal representative, law enforcement agencies, and individuals with court permission.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Types of Cases in New York Civil Court
New York civil courts are responsible for attending to cases involving quarrels or disputes over loans, warranties, property, damages, and more, which are of non-criminal background. Judgments in the civil court typically entail settlement as ordered by the judge or through an out-of-court settlement between the defendant and the plaintiff. Some of these cases are;
- Small loans: personal, student loans and banks
- Goods sold and delivered: refunds
- Labour and services: recovering money for work done
- Hospital bills
- Professional services: refunds for legal work etc.
- Trade services: refunds for plumbing and electrical work
- Personal property: fund recovery for damage to house or properties like cars
- Personal injury: compensation due to injuries to a person
- Subrogated claims
- Rent payment
- Commercial landlord-tenant cases
- Contract and Property Disputes
- Tort Cases
- Small Claims
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases?
Criminal cases are offenses committed against the state and are typically tried by a jury. When a defendant cannot hire an attorney in a criminal case, the state will have to provide an attorney to represent the litigant in the court. The punishment meted out in criminal cases are usually weightier, and may involve serving a jail term or paying a considerable fine. Cases related to criminal activities are filed by the persecutor who acts as the representative of the state, and not the victim like in civil cases. In criminal cases, the standard of proof accepted must be 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' Under criminal law, the defendants' rights are considered and may be protected against illegal searches and seizures.
On the other hand, civil cases occur when there is a claim that an individual or corporation (defendant) has refused to perform a legal duty to another party (plaintiff). Such cases may involve breaching a contract, defamation, property damage, or refusal to honor constitutional rights. Civil cases are decided upon by a judge, and the penalties, most times, are less severe. When it comes to civil cases, most of the established forms of protection obtainable by a defendant, are not applicable. Defendants of civil cases may have to represent themselves if they cannot afford to get an attorney, as they are not eligible for state-provided attorneys. Also, lower standards of proof known as 'the preponderance of the evidence' are acceptable.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records In New York?
To request a record, check with the office in charge of maintaining the case file to ensure that the record is available. Furthermore, if the case is related to criminal activities, the New York Police Department or the District Attorney's Office that presided over it may be queried. Orders for civil court records in New York can be made in person, by mail or online. When preparing a written request for a civil case record, be specific by describing the records to a large extent, and make use of the court's indexing and record retrieval system.
Per Section 255 of the Judiciary Law, court clerks may charge a fee to copy and certify a civil case record across all counties. The acceptable mode of payment includes a check or money order, accompanied by the request form. Requesting parties who may want to obtain New York civil case records at a cheaper rate, can visit the Court Clerk's Office in person. However, if the records being asked for are voluminous and may disrupt office duties, the requester may be required to pay the standard fee.
Requests for the transcripts of court proceedings can be sent to the court reporter or the clerk of court. An initial inquiry containing the date the proceeding took place, may be sent to figure out if it has been transcribed already. If not, the requestor will have to pay for the transcription and send a request to the specific court reporter. To locate the exact court reporter, address an inquiry to the Supervising Court Reporter. Nevertheless, if the recordings of the court proceeding have been transcribed already, requestors will only be paying per-page fees to obtain copies of the transcript. The office of the New York County Clerk is located at:
60 Centre St,
New York, NY 10007
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
The New York Unified Court System offers eTrack, which helps interested individuals track civil court cases active in all the counties in the state. This service involves creating an account. Another way to find New York civil court records online is through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing (NYSCEF), where only E-filed cases can be searched as there are certain types of cases that are allowed to be filed online. Note that confidential records, also known as sealed records, are usually not filed online, and interested persons may have to go to the courthouse in charge of such records to seek ways to obtain them. In the event where a civil court case isn't electronically available due to its age, the requestor must schedule a visit to the civil courthouse involved to provide as much useful information to the court personnel to help determine its index number.
How to Get Civil Court Records Removed
Expungement or removal of records involves erasing the record permanently. It can also be referred to as the legal process in which a conviction or arrest can be deleted from an individual's criminal record. This helps in having a clean slate in the eyes of the public, although law enforcement authorities may still have access to it. The state of New York does not allow for the expungement of criminal records. The state only allows the sealing of civil court records on certain conditions.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in New York?
Residents in the State of New York can desire to restrict information contained in a civil court record or may wish to have the records destroyed. In this case, such a record can be sealed or be removed from being accessed by the general public, and the process is guided by PART 216 of the Uniform Rules for New York State Trial Courts. In New York, civil court records are sealed if the requestors provide a good cause. That is, the reasons stated must be reasonable enough to make the court consider the request and the interest of the general public. The civil court may also permit hearing upon appropriate notice, where it is desirable by the requesting party, or deemed necessary. If approval to seal civil court records is given by the court eventually, then an individual's case file is only accessible to law enforcement agencies on local, state, and federal levels or the legal representative of the person whose name is on the record.