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What are New Jersey Criminal Court Records?
New Jersey Criminal Court Records refers to all the documents and files related to criminal court proceedings within the State. These documents include but are not limited to court transcripts, dockets, recording, films, maps, tapes of disposition, and so on.
What’s Contained in A Criminal Court Record?
Some criminal cases end with plea bargains, while others go on to conviction and sentence. The contents of a criminal court record in New Jersey depends on how the trial ends. But on a general note, a criminal court record may include the following:
- Arrest Warrant
- Transaction sheet
- Programs document
- Uniform Arrest Reports
- Probation orders, etc.
Who Can Access New Jersey’s Criminal Court Record?
Criminal court records are accessible by the public as long as they are not sealed, expunged, or carry an impounding order by the Judge.
Understanding the New Jersey Court Structure
The court system in New Jersey, also known as the Judiciary branch of government consists of different courts which are:
- The Superior Court
- Tax Court
- Appellate Division
- The New Jersey Supreme Court
- Municipal Courts
The Superior Court is also known as the trial court. It is where cases involving civil, criminal, and family law are heard and tried. Every of New Jersey’s 21 counties has a Superior Court. There are about 360 Superior Court trial judges. The Superior Court handles felony, juvenile, family criminal misdemeanor, cases.
Rather than a trial, most criminal cases get resolved through bargain plea. This involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lawsuit to get a less severe sentence from the judge.
The tax court has the responsibility of reviewing the decisions made by the county boards of taxation and the State Division of Taxation. The judges of the tax court review decisions on property tax, state income tax, business tax, and sales tax.
Appeals Court is also known as appellate courts. They are higher courts where people who want to seek a rehearing of their case go to appeal. The two types of Appellate Courts in New Jersey are the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
New Jersey Supreme Court
The highest court in New Jersey is the Supreme Court. It is where defendants who are not happy with the outcome of their trials in other courts come to appeal their case. The Chief Justice and six Associate Justices have the responsibility to decide on cases. The court does not permit witnesses, juries or new evidence. The Judges only review the decisions of lower courts to see if they were fair and unbiased.
Appellate Division of Superior Court
The Appellate Division review cases already heard in the Superior Court. Two or three Appellate Division judges oversee the reviewing and deciding of cases. In this court, no witnesses or juries are allowed. The judges also do not permit new evidence, only legal arguments between lawyers.
The Municipal Courts in New Jersey hear different kinds of cases ranging from motor vehicle offenses (DUI and DWI) to other minor criminal matters such as shoplifting, trespassing, and even neighbor disputes.
Most cases get filed in the Municipal court rather than any other courts in New Jersey. In about seven million cases in a year, six million hearings take place at the Municipal Courts. The number of these courts is 539. Find out more about the Judiciary System in New Jerseyhere.
Obtaining Criminal Court Records
Residents of New Jersey can obtain criminal court records through three means:
- By visiting the courthouse in person
- By sending a mail or email to the court
- By searching online through authorized websites
How Do I Access New Jersey’s Criminal Court Records in Person?
Residents seeking to access criminal court records in person will need to visit the Criminal Case Management Office in the county where the case got filed. If an individual is requesting his/her court records, they can ask for a copy of the disposition from the court.
A disposition also referred to as Judgement of Conviction at the Superior Court level, is the official court record that states the outcome of a criminal case. It is essential to carry a means of identification when visiting the court. This could be a birth certificate or driver’s license.
Appearing in the court to request the disposition increases the chances of viewing, getting copies of it the same day. Residents can decide to make copies of the record if they wish. But they will need to pay a copy and authentication fee. However, it is essential to come with the necessary identification.
There are different types of court copies and authentication. The New Jersey Court Website provides detailed information on the available types and fees. Payment can be in the form of cash, check or, money order, although they only accept money in person.
Individuals who wish to obtain their juvenile court records probably to petition for expungement can visit the Family Court to request for it.
How Do I Find New Jersey’s Criminal Court Records by Mail?
To access criminal court records by mail, residents can submit the Records Request Form to the Clerks Office at the Superior Court using the email SCCOMailbox@judiciary.state.nj.us or Scco.Mailbox@njcourts.gov or by mailing:
P.O. Box 971,
Superior Court Clerk’s Office,
NJ 08625- 0971.
Copying and authenticating the record comes with a fee.
How to Find New Jersey’s Criminal Court Records Online?
Criminal court records are available online on the PROMIS/Gavel Public Access site. However, not all criminal court records are available here. Some confidential records such as juvenile cases, probation records, expunged cases, sealed indictments, and all other cases the Judge impounds are not available for viewing online.
Also, only case records where the defendant was convicted and sentenced in the Superior courts can show up in the search results. Moreover, results from various counties will only show from when they began using the PROMIS/Gavel Case Management System.
Another place to get criminal court records is through the Municipal Courts case search. Those who need records on Municipal complaints can make use of the site. Information required for the search includes name, complaint, or summons number.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
Note: Information found in the online court records is not always reliable, accurate or even complete. There could also be an error in names.
How do I find New Jersey’s Public Records for Free?
There are free criminal record databases for the State of New Jersey. Check New Jersey App.com to access Superior Court Criminal Conviction Records. Search Systems also allows free searches of arrests and inmates in counties.
Can I Access New Jersey Sealed Criminal Court Records?
Sealed criminal court records in New Jersey are inaccessible by the public. Any individual that wants access to them will have to make a lawsuit to the trial court with claims that there is a great need to unseal the record.
Are Juvenile Criminal Records Open to the Public?
Juvenile criminal records are not open to the public as they are confidential cases. The only people that can have access to a Juvenile criminal court record are the victim of the juvenile offense, parents, legal counsel, and other parties attached to the case.
However, the public can have access to some adjudicated delinquent. Information accessible includes the identity, offense, adjudication, and disposition of the juvenile. Juvenile criminal court records can affect a juvenile’s chances to get aid for education, public housing, etc. which is why most of them file a petition for expungement
The expungement of records means that every file relating to their arrest, detention, and conviction will be isolated from other documents and the crime would be considered to have never happened. This way, juveniles would be able to say they were never involved in any criminal activity.
Eligibility for juvenile expungement
Juveniles who want to file for expungement will have to be eligible for it to be successful. Minors who did not get delinquency adjudications by trial can submit to expunge their records anytime. But juveniles who were adjudged delinquents will have to wait for ten years after completing their sentence to file.
Information needed to prepare expungement petition includes:
- Dates (arrest, complaints, or custody)
- Statute(s) and the offenses(s)
- Complaint(s), reference number(s), summon(es).
- Conviction or dismissed charges date
- Court’s disposition, punishments
- Date of adjudication of delinquency, fine payment, dismissal, etc
For easier access to this information, juveniles should contact the Superior Court Family Division Office, where they were adjudged or taken into custody.
If charges were not filed even though they took the juveniles into custody, it’s advisable to contact a law enforcement agency related to the incident. Another person to reach is the county prosecutor. Inform him/her of the interest to delete the record.
Individuals can also get information on disorderly person offenses from the Municipal Court or the Police Department related to the case.
What Records are Automatically Sealed by New Jersey’s Statute?
Some juvenile court records are automatically sealed as the public cannot have access to it. However, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, Judges, members of the immediate family, juvenile’s institution, and other authorized people can still have access to the records.
Are the transcripts of New Jersey Criminal Court Proceeding Available to the Public?
Residents can get transcripts of court proceedings presided over by a District Judge from the court reporter or ESR operator. But if a Magistrate Judge held the procedure, they can get the transcript bycontacting the Judge. The transcripts are only available for viewing.
However, if the residents want copies of the transcript, they will have to pay a fee to the court reporter or transcriber to get them. There are different types of transcripts, and each comes with their charges. The official website of the District of New Jersey has compiled a list of transcripts and their fees.
How do I Find Federal Criminal Court Records Online?
The PACER U.S. District Court System can be used when searching for federal criminal records. The website will require account registration and a fee. Information requested when registering an account on PACER includes first and last name, date of birth, address, phone number, and legal description.
Another way to get federal criminal court records is through the National Archives' official site. Note that they do not keep records less than 15 years old. To obtain copies of court orders on this site, follow these steps:
- Visit the order reproductions page and click on the order reproductions
- When it opens, click on court records
- Then select the criminal court from the list of options
- Set up an account and place an order for a court copy
There is also an option to get it via mail or fax. Do this by downloading the criminal case form and mailing it to the appropriate contact. The contact information is included in the form. Fees apply.
Note that online, mailing, and faxing are the only method to retrieve criminal court records from the National Archives. On-site appearance in their Federal Record Centers is no longer permitted.
The National Archives at New York City also hold court records created by Federal courts in four states, namely, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, New York, and U.S Virgin Islands. Individuals who need Federal criminal court records can access it by visiting the site.
Two ways to get a Federal Criminal court record through the New York City National Archives include:
- Searching and ordering online
- Sending a mail, fax or e-mail
Seeking for an online record on the site involves submitting a “research request.” It is free of charge, except there is a need to order copies. Visit the U.S Courts page to place an order. The archives request individuals ordering for large files to visit the research room or hire a document service that will ensure the photocopying of the data. To request via mail, send the name of parties involved in the criminal case, and the time the case was heard to:
National Archives at New York City
1 Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY, 10004.