New York state arrest records have always been public, but individuals often had trouble obtaining them. In the internet age, arrest records are easier to find than ever, as they are stored in databases of state government agencies that users can easily access.
Finding information now takes just minutes through the New York State Office of Court Administration, the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services or the New York State Inmate Registry if the person has already been incarcerated. The user may pay a nominal fee for the search, or it may be free depending upon the agency.
Arrest Records via New York State Office of Court Administration
The New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) provides criminal history records online or by mail. When conducting a search, individuals must have the exact name and date of birth of the person they're searching for. Records provided by the OCA are public and related to open/pending and criminal convictions in criminal cases of court systems in all 62 New York counties.
This database has certain limitations, including:
- It does not include family, civil or federal court information.
- Records are subject to nondisclosure requirements of case dispositions according to the OCA’s policies or sealed records.
- Village and Town Court disposition data is unavailable for May 1991 to 2002, and data from 2002 through 2007 is limited.
- It does not report pending Youthful Offender Eligible criminal cases.
- “Transferred” or “removed” Family Court criminal cases are not reported.
- The database does not include dispositions for those with a single misdemeanor more than 10 years before the requested date.
- Results offered are not certified and should not be confused with a "Certificate of Disposition," which only the court of original jurisdiction can issue.
- Cases with charges that do not result in fingerprinting are not available through this search.
CHRS Search Instructions
Individuals can find arrest record information through the Office of Court Administration or by downloading a copy of the CHRS request form for searches. When requesting an online search, the user creates an account before filling in the necessary information.
This includes the name, address and contact information of the person or organization filling out the form and the exact name and birth date of the person they’re searching for. Aliases and different dates of birth are counted as individual searches. Incomplete or unclear information will be rejected.
Filing Search Applications
When filing an application by mail, individuals must include a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope to receive results. Mail requests are processed the next business day. Applications should be mailed to Criminal History Record Search, New York State Office of Court Administration, Office of Administrative Services, Criminal History Record Search, 25 Beaver Street (Room 840 - Front Desk), New York, NY 10004.
Searches are $95 each. Applicants can pay by credit or debit card online, or by check or money order made payable to the New York State Office of Court Administration when mailing their request. Cash is not accepted.
Additional Resources for Finding Arrest Records in NY
Going through the OCA is just one way of finding arrest records in New York state. Parties can also access public records through the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
The DCJS keeps records of an individual's official arrest and conviction information, known as a record of arrest and prosecution, aka RAP sheet. RAP sheets cannot be requested without fingerprints, and expunged marijuana convictions do not appear on them.
The FBI keeps a record of convictions from every state and federal court; records kept by the FBI require fingerprints to be provided with a request. There are also plenty of third-party credit reporting agencies online that buy information on criminal court cases. However, they typically charge a fee for their services and their reports are not always accurate or up to date.
What Is the New York State Inmate Registry?
A person arrested for a crime may already be incarcerated. The New York State Inmate Registry provides information on the status and location of inmates in the state's 54 Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Correctional Facilities.
This registry has information on inmates who have been incarcerated since the 1970s, with the exception of those whose convictions have been set aside by the court.
Information on the site is usually available 24 hours a day, but there are 15-minute intervals every night at 11:45 p.m. EST for site maintenance. Additionally, the search is unavailable from 11:30 p.m. Saturday to 12:30 a.m. Sunday EST for server maintenance. Users who cannot find an incarcerated person can call DOCCS Central Files at 518-457-5000 for additional help.
How to Search New York’s Inmate Registry
The quickest way to find an inmate in a New York state prison is through their Department Identification Number (DIN), which is a number used to identify inmates throughout their jail or prison term. If the person searching does not have the inmate’s DIN, they can use their name, but there may be more than one person with the same name.
Knowing an inmate’s year of birth can narrow the search if there are too many names that are similar. When the inmate’s birthday is used, it is based on an exact match of their last name. The name list will include only inmates whose name is spelled exactly the way it was entered into the system originally and who were born during or after the year entered.
- If you are having a difficult time obtaining an arrest record or if the information you receive is incomplete, you may need to hire a private investigator. According to Howtoinvestigate.com, online database information may be incomplete, as not all counties maintain their criminal records on a database.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.