New Jersey Court Records
Are New Jersey Records Public?
Yes. Per the New Jersey Open Public Records Act, government-generated records are accessible to the public. This act serves as a successor to the Right to Know Law, and it generally covers these areas:
- Increases the public's right to access government records.
- Creates an appeal system if a record request is denied
- Defines what constitutes a public record.
Under this law, both state and non-state residents have the legal right to access government-generated records. Also, it empowers record custodians to maintain and release public records to public members. Nevertheless, the law restricts access to confidential or sensitive data.
The New Jersey’s Open Meeting Act, or Sunshine Laws, also regulates access to government records. Under this law, government agencies’ public meetings are accessible to record seekers.
Who Can Access New Jersey Public Records?
New Jersey residents and non-state residents can find and access public records in the state. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, record custodians can deny requests if the information violates an individual's right to privacy or security. In addition, it will redact documents classified as “exempt” under the public records law.
Additionally, C.47:1A-2.2 restricts convicted offenders from accessing information on crime victims or anonymous record seekers. The law expressly prevents the disclosure of the victim's personal information, including home address, social security number, school or work address, and phone number.
However, there's an exception to this rule: convicted persons can only obtain the data if it is crucial to their court case. So, the record seeker requires court approval to get the data.
Also, not all New Jersey public records are accessible to the general public. Record custodians may issue confidential records to persons with a tangible and direct interest in them.
Note: You must provide a government-issued ID to request and obtain confidential public records in New Jersey.
Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in New Jersey?
It is not a legal requirement to provide a statement of purpose when requesting public documents in New Jersey. Nevertheless, you must follow these formats when making a request:
- Include “OPRA request” as the title of the email or written request.
- Input your name, email address, and phone number.
- Cite the state law that supports your request.
- Include the phrase “I'm requesting the following information under New Jersey’s Open Public Records.”
- Specify the format in which you want to receive the record.
- Also, include how you want to receive the record. You may opt to get it via mail, email, or in person.
Note: It is not compulsory to provide an ID to obtain public records. However, you may need to prove your identity to obtain confidential records, such as vital records.
What Records are Public in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, most government-generated documents are classified as public records. Examples of these documents may include court records, sex offenders’ data, bankruptcy records, and inmate records. That said, you can find these public documents at designated state and local government agencies. For example, the New Jersey Department of Corrections is the custodian of inmate records.
New Jersey Public Court Records
In New Jersey, court records are a collection of data generated during court proceedings. These documents may exist in paper or online formats and may contain data on case files, court summons, docket sheets, and judgments.
The New Jersey Judiciary maintains online records of court records via the PROMIS/GAVEL Public Access Website. This is a searchable database that provides information on court records generated by the county courts. These court records may include criminal, tax, family, liens, and civil court cases.
What Information Will I Find in a New Jersey Court Record?
New Jersey court records may contain these details:
- The defendant's birth name and aliases
- Case number
- Case initial date
- Indictment number
- Disposition date
- Sentence date
Note that court records contain specific information based on the type of court case.
Which Court Records are Exempt from Public Access in New Jersey?
New Jersey courts will restrict access to court records if it contains:
- Data pertaining to search warrants
- Expunged or sealed information
- Contact details of crime victims.
- Information on adoption (N.J.S.A. §9:3-51 and 52)
New Jersey Public Criminal Records
Criminal records are government documents that contain data on an offender's criminal history and convictions. It may also contain court-related data, such as a case number and sentencing details. That said, you can find New Jersey criminal records at both state and local agencies.
The New Jersey State Police, via the Criminal Information Unit (CIU), is the state-level custodian of criminal history. It provides access to criminal records via fingerprint-based search.
To obtain criminal records in New Jersey, applicants must follow these steps:
- Schedule a fingerprint scan online.
- Next, visit the nearest scan center to upload their fingerprints. As of January 2024, the fingerprinting service costs $45.73.
- Visit the State Police website to download the Personal Record Request Letter.
- To get authentication, applicants must input these details on the website:
- Record the subject's last name and birth date
- IdentGo PCN
The State Police processes criminal record requests within ten working days.
Note: Per N.J.A.C. 13:59-1 et seq., the agency will only disclose criminal records to the applicant or the following entities:
- Prospective non-government employers
- Government entities
- Private detectives who have a license from the Division of State Police.
The New Jersey State Police are located at:
P.O. Box 7068
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Phone: (609) 882-2000
New Jersey Public Arrest Records
Arrest records in New Jersey are public records and are accessible via local law enforcement agencies. You may also find it under criminal history records at the State Police Division. To access arrest records, record seekers may provide a written request to the local law enforcement agency.
Note: While there are no time restrictions for accessing arrest records, record subjects can seal arrest records if:
- Six months have passed since the charges were dismissed.
- It's been five years after serving the sentence.
New Jersey Public Bankruptcy Records
New Jersey's public bankruptcy records are court documents on persons or entities filing for bankruptcy. It generally covers financial data, including tax records and court-related documents.
Bankruptcy records in New Jersey may include the following information:
- The lawsuit file number
- Names of debtors and creditors
- Date of the notice of filing
- Names of assigned trustees
- Names of the presiding judge
- List of the debtor's current assets
- Chapter Code of the bankruptcy case.
- Case docket number
The United States Bankruptcy Court - District of New Jersey, oversees all bankruptcy records in the state. As a record custodian, it provides access to bankruptcy documents via online, phone, or in-person requests. To obtain bankruptcy records online, record seekers must visit the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Next, sign up on the platform to access the records.
The bankruptcy court also provides free case information via (866) 222-8029.
To access bankruptcy records in person, visit the New Jersey bankruptcy courts at any of these locations:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 645-4764
Clarkson S. Fisher U.S. Courthouse
402 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
Phone: (609) 858-9333
U.S. Post Office and Courthouse
401 Market Street
Camden, NJ 08101
Phone: (856) 361-2300.
New Jersey Public Birth Records
In New Jersey, birth records contain data on birth events recorded in the state. The record may contain:
- The record subject's birth name
- Names of both parents, including the mother's maiden name
- Date of birth
- The county where the birth occurred
The New Jersey Department of Health, via the Vital Records Office, maintains birth records below 100 years old. Per state laws, these records are confidential and only accessible to persons with a legal right to obtain them. Record subjects, close relatives (grandparents, parents, spouses, legal guardians, and offspring), and legal representatives can access these records.
Note: Birth records above 100 years old are publicly accessible and you may find them at these agencies:
- The New Jersey State Archives
- The local health department where the birth event occurred.
New Jersey Dept. of Health and Senior Services – Vital Records
120 South Stockton Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 292-4087
New Jersey Public Death Records
In New Jersey, death records are official documents on death events and may feature these details:
- The deceased's name and age
- Social security number
- Place of birth
- Cause of death
- Place of death
- Date when the death occurred
- Name of the official who certified the cause of death.
The State's Office of Vital Statistics and Registry keeps death records from 1941 until the present, while the New Jersey State Archives maintains death records between 1930 and 1960. Note that death records in New Jersey are not public documents and are only accessible to the deceased's parents, legal guardians or representatives, legal spouse, and offspring.
To access certified copies of death records in New Jersey, you must provide the following information:
- The deceased's full name
- The exact date of the death event
- The city where the death occurred
You may request certified copies of death records via mail or in person at this location:
State Registrar of Vital Statistics
Office of Vital Statistics & Registry
NJ Department of Health
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, NJ 08625-0370.
New Jersey Public Marriage Records
The State Office of Vital Statistics and Registry maintains marriage records from 1941 until the present. In contrast, the State Archive keeps marriage records between 1931 and 1948. In addition to this, the New Jersey Department of State keeps a searchable index of online marriage records between May 1848 and December 1900.
Note that marriage records are not publicly available and are only accessible to:
- Family members of the record subjects (the parent, current spouse, offspring, parents, and legal guardians)
- Legal representatives of the record subject
- Government officials.
Eligible record seekers may find these details in a New Jersey marriage record:
- Both record the subject's full birth names
- Date and location of marriage event
- Names of witnesses at the event
- Names of both record subjects’ parents.
To obtain a New Jersey marriage record, you must provide a valid ID and a written request to the State Vital Records Office at:
State Registrar of Vital Statistics
Office of Vital Statistics & Registry
NJ Department of Health
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, NJ 08625-0370.
New Jersey Public Divorce Records
Public divorce records in New Jersey may provide this information:
- Names of both record subjects
- The county where the divorce case occurred.
- The docket number
- Date of final judgment of divorce
The New Jersey Superior Court Clerk's Office is the custodian of divorce records. It collates divorce case records from each county in the state. To access divorce records at the Clerk's Office, you must provide the docket number of the divorce case. In contrast, you can obtain New Jersey divorce records from the Family Division of the county court where the divorce took place.
Superior Court Clerk's Office
25 Market Street
P.O. Box 971
Trenton, NJ 08625-0971
New Jersey Public Inmate Records
New Jersey inmate records are publicly accessible to public members. The New Jersey Department of Corrections is the custodian of inmate records. Furthermore, it maintains a searchable registry of all inmates in the state's correctional facilities and jails.
To obtain New Jersey inmate records, interested parties must visit the searchable database and fill out one of these details:
- The inmate's first and last name
- SBI number
- Age range
- The current incarceration center
New Jersey inmate records may provide the following details:
- The offense type and date
- The sentencing date and minimum prison sentence.
- Current incarceration facility
- Physical-identifying features, such as height, eye color, hair color, and sex.
Note: Juvenile inmate records are confidential and are only accessible under these circumstances:
- The court issued a subpoena or order
- The juvenile, parent, or legal guardian consents to the disclosure.
New Jersey Public Sex Offender Information
In New Jersey, sex offenders’ information is accessible to all public members. The New Jersey State Police updates an online registry of all sex offenders in the state. That said, the online registry contains information on tier 2 (moderate-risk) and tier 3 (high-risk) sex offenders.
How to Lookup Sex Offender Information in New Jersey
To access the record in the database, record seekers must follow these simple steps:
- Visit the New Jersey sex offenders registry
- Select your preferred search option: search by area, name, city, or internet name and email.
- Based on your preferred option, fill out the required details to view sex offenders’ data.
Note: Per Megan's law, it's a punishable offense to use this data to harass or intimidate sex offenders. If convicted, the offender may get three to five years of imprisonment or pay fines up to $15,000.
New Jersey Public Property Records
Per the New Jersey Open Public Records Act, most property records, like deeds, mortgages, parcel boundaries, and map information, are classified as public records. These public property records contain information on:
- Net value
- Sales price
- Number of units
- Property class
- Property tax for the previous year
- Property tax for the current year
- Deed book and date.
The New Jersey Transparency Center is the state-level record custodian for public property records. It maintains an online, map-based search platform. On the other hand, each county clerk's office and board of taxation maintain property records at the local level.
How to Lookup Property Records in New Jersey
Follow these simple steps to find, view, and download property records in New Jersey:
- Visit the Transparency Center website and select “property tax” in the left section.
- Next, select “Property Explorer” to view the map-based search portal.
- Search for property records via these options:
- Address search
- Block and lot
What is Exempted Under the New Jersey Public Records Act?
All New Jersey public records listed under N.J.S.A. 47-1A1 et seq. are exempt from public disclosure. The state law generally exempts or redacts information if it violates an individual's or entity's right to privacy or security. Also, it empowers record custodians to consider if the public's interest in the record outweighs the state's right to protect the data.
Per the state law, here are a few examples of exempt records:
- Medical examiner records
- Proprietary financial and commercial data and trade secrets
- Information pertaining to an attorney-client communication
- Information on security or emergency procedures for buildings.
- Personal identifying data, such as credit card numbers and driver's license numbers
Note: The record custodian will not provide access to exempt information under the public records law.
How Do I Find Public Records in New Jersey?
Follow these steps to find public records in New Jersey:
Step 1: Identify the record custodian responsible for the public document
Under the Open Records Act, record custodians are responsible for specific public documents. In most cases, they are responsible for generating the data. For example, vital records are under the control of the state and local health departments. Also, you'll find offense-related documents at the state police division or the Department of Corrections.
Step 2: Check if you are legally eligible to request the record
Not all New Jersey government records are accessible to the public. Documents, such as vital records and court documents, are not publicly accessible. In this case, the agency will only disclose the record to the record subject, family relations, and legal representatives.
Step 3: Check the available methods of obtaining the record
Some record custodians enable access to public records via inline, mail, or in-person requests. In addition, some allow record requests via phone call. So, always search for the available request methods and determine the best option. For example, you may request it in person to get faster access to the records.
Step 4: Check if the public record is free
Some public documents are accessible for free. For example, you don't need to pay to view property records and sex offenders’ data in New Jersey. In contrast, you must pay a search fee to get certified copies of vital records, criminal records, and court documents.
Step 5: Send a detailed request to the record custodian
Check the record custodian's website for an online or downloadable request form. In the absence of such forms, create a written request containing the following information:
- Include “OPRA Request” as the subject of the request letter.
- Include the record subject's full name and all other necessary data.
- Write your name and contact details.
- Include the search fee as a money order or check payable to the record custodian.
You may send it to the record custodian via mail or in person.
Can I Find Free Public Records in New Jersey Using Third-Party Sites?
Yes. Third-party search sites also provide access to free public records in New Jersey. You may find access to records, such as birth, marriage, and death records, on these sites.
Third-party sites are a good alternative since they are easier to navigate and do not require complex log-in procedures. However, they may contain outdated information.
How Much Do Public Records Cost in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, it costs $0.05 to get a hard copy of public records. Note that the price may differ based on factors such as the medium in which the record was reproduced. For example, record seekers will pay $0.55 for public records copied on CDs or DVDs. Per OPRA (C.47:1A-5c & C47:1A-5d), record custodians may charge additional fees for the efforts and time spent on retrieving a record. Mail requests also incur additional costs.
Note: You will pay more to access certified copies of vital records and criminal records. It costs $45.73 to get fingerprint-based criminal records in New Jersey.
Can I Waive the Public Records Fee in New Jersey?
No. As of January 2024, there are no fee waivers for public records in New Jersey. However, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(b)(2) allows crime victims to obtain public records that contain their information freely.
What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?
Follow these steps if a record custodian denies your public records request:
Step 1: Find the reasons why the agency denied the request.
New Jersey record custodians will deny a public records request if:
- The document contains information classified as exempt under the Open Public Records Act.
- It requires information from more than one agency.
- The record is no longer in the custody of the agency.
Step 2: Choose one of these options
In the case of a denied request, you may choose to either:
- File a lawsuit in the law division of the Superior Court, Law Division
- Make an appeal to the Government Records Council (GRC).
To use the latter option, contact the GRC via mail at Government.Records@dca.nj.gov, or by phone at (866) 850-0511 (toll-free). Next, GRC staff will review the complaint and act as a mediator between the agency and the record seeker. The case is closed if both parties accept the mediation and solve the issue.