There are many reasons that you may wish to access New Jersey criminal records. The details in these public records can be a treasure trove of information. Searches can be conducted for:
- Visa applications
- International adoption
- Other personal matters
Research for family history, writing books, papers, school projects, or simply investigating a person you may need information about, can all require searching through criminal records.
New Jersey Criminal Background Checks
Fingerprint-based criminal background checks by the New Jersey state police require the fingerprints of the person being checked, along with the request. Individuals can always obtain a criminal history report on themselves in person at approved sites, at a cost of $40.66. Fingerprinting is required even for self-checks. Residents of certain zip codes are also restricted from accessing these checks. Name-based criminal background checks are also available. However, these background checks are considered to be less thorough and restrictions do apply. They are restricted to official use and cannot be conducted for personal purposes.
New Jersey Court Reports
Since criminal background checks in New Jersey are restrictive, another method of accessing a New Jersey criminal record is searching the state’s court reports. The New Jersey Courts produce and publish public access reports of cases on a regular basis, as laid out in Court Rule 1:38-13. This rule makes most of the state’s official court and administrative records open for public inspection and copying. There are a few exceptions. Court records are defined as information maintained by the court in any form, in connection with a case or proceeding. Court records include:
- Criminal records
- Court schedules
- Data that has been compiled to create statistics
- Computerized case management records
- Transcripts and recordings of proceedings
- Orders, decrees, and judgments
Records that are protected from public access include those required by law to be kept confidential. These include records related to minors or victims of domestic violence and child abuse, and they remain secret even when attached to a non-confidential document. Sealed indictments, discovery materials, and records related to grand jury proceedings or supreme court cases can’t be published. Family court case details such as adoption, juvenile delinquency records, child custody, and divorce proceedings are excluded. Records related to expunged cases are excluded from public review, as well.
It’s good to know that your searches of New Jersey court records are not limited simply to criminal convictions. Some cases that are brought before the court may be dismissed or the charges may be reduced. These may not leave a person with a traceable criminal record, but these types of cases can still provide information about persons, places, and events that may be important or useful for many purposes.
Searching New Jersey Criminal Records
With such a large number of published records available to sort through, researching criminal records in New Jersey can be a big job.
Electronic searches can be conducted through the New Jersey Courts website. Your results with this system will vary. Basic searches of names and name variations tend to turn up large numbers of results to sort through. The information that is returned via this method is limited. This option only tells you case numbers, defendant descriptions, year of birth, aliases, and sentencing dates. There is no information available about the types of charges, date of actual offenses, or what the sentence or outcome was. It also will not say whether the defendant is a repeat offender or provide other important details. At best, you may find that this service is a way to narrow down your orders of physical records copies.
Purchasing New Jersey Court Records
The New Jersey Courts website has a list of official documents that can be accessed for purchase. The public access reports available here are for sale. These records are updated at varying intervals and include information about attorneys, bail cases, civil cases, criminal cases, judgments and liens, municipal court case information, and tax court reports.
Records are not published online, so must be ordered and purchased through the specific court that heard the case. This means that in order to find the information you may wish to access, you must know some things about what you are looking for. Names, dates, places, and type of occurrence will help you narrow down your search, but keep in mind they will also narrow your results.
Active and closed case records are kept locally at the county courthouses throughout New Jersey. The first thing you will need to know is the locality where the case was heard. Superior court is statewide, and the information kept there includes statewide judgments and foreclosures, as well as archived records from civil cases statewide.
New Jersey court reports are available for purchase in several forms. Plain copies will do if all you need is basic information. These are the least expensive, starting at five cents per page. Certified copies and those with court seals attached range from 10 dollars to 50 dollars and more. Official records requests forms must be submitted directly to the correct courthouse. Later, you will be contacted for payment due based on how many pages of information come up in your search results.
If you need New Jersey criminal records but do not know the location or outcome of a potential case, you will probably need to submit many official requests. You should target courts in locations all over the state for the best search results. This is both time-consuming and expensive. The process may or may not yield the results that you are looking for. The results of this type of search will depend on the quality of the information that you can provide up front.
It is important to note that when New Jersey enacted the Public Access to Court Records rule, the law provided for a few conditions that will affect your search results. First, the records that are available for search may only date back to 1980. Earlier records may possibly be available, but this is not guaranteed. Secondly, all records are available only in the form that they were maintained by the judiciary. So if the information that you are looking for is only available in a transcript or a recording, but you only search court briefs, you may not get complete results. It is hard to know if your results will be accurate if you conduct broad searches.
CheckThem Makes it Easy
Obviously, obtaining a New Jersey criminal record can be a time-consuming and expensive process with no guarantee of accurate results. If you would rather have better results with less hassle, CheckThem offers comprehensive searches of billions of public records databases. Our fast, anonymous service skips the processes of submitting fingerprints and your identifying information to government entities. We allow you to maintain your safety and privacy while getting the quick, thorough results that you need. Results will include criminal histories, traffic offenses, misdemeanor convictions, arrests, and more. Protect yourself from being a victim. Get the criminal records data you need with less hassle and expense with CheckThem.