What You Need to Know to Get Started
The type of case: civil, criminal, housing, etc.
The jurisdiction: state, federal, local. (Difference between federal & state cases.)
Not everything is online; sometimes you must go to the court to request a copy of the case and photocopy it there.
Juvenile records are usually not available, unless convicted in Supreme Court as an adult – called a “juvenile offender.” Youthful offender records are sealed. Some kids are classified as “juvenile delinquents.” More info.
A NYS family court case “record of filing” is usually available, but the documents filed in the case are not public. These rules usually apply in most states.
NYS Criminal Court Structure link pdf with details on Criminal Court Structure
NYS Civil Court Structure (below)
NYS Courts Electronic Filing System: sign in as a guest and access civil court docket and electronically filed documents in
Supreme Court, Court of Claims, Surrogate's Court.
Civil case date range on eCourts depends on jurisdiction, but some go back to the 1980s.
SCROLL has Supreme Court civil case documents for cases in New York County.
Nexis Uni has selected state cases. Click on the Cases button then select the State Cases button.
Bronx County Clerk’s Office (civil case lookup), has case documents online.
Only pending criminal cases are listed in WebCrims.
NYC Inmate search NYC Dept of Corrections
NYS inmate search NYS Dept of Corrections, goes back to 1970s.
New York Statewide criminal history record search For a $95 fee. Results are verified, reviewed, amended, if necessary, and emailed to our customers the following business day. Here are details of what you will find in a NYS Criminal History Report, from the NYS Criminal Justice Division.
NexisUni has selected state cases. See “Look up a Legal Case” on the bottom of the search page. Search using party name or index #.
Criminal Court Basics from NYCourts
A walk through the Criminal Justice System for Adults in NYS, from the NYS Office of Mental Health
Contact the party attorney(s) in the case: NYS Attorney Directory lists of all NYS attorneys registered with unified court system.
PACER provides online access to the docket and most documents filed in both criminal and civil federal cases. Almost all federal cases are available on PACER, but the court decides which documents to make available publicly on PACER.
*You must visit the Research Center for PACER access. Here is a PACER Tipsheet.
Federal inmate search Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate lookup site.
TRACImmigration (some free) data on federal immigration enforcement
TRAC (free site) data on federal enforcement, staffing and spending