Access to Criminal History Records

New York State regulations allow an individual to receive a copy of his or her criminal history record information maintained at the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) or a “no record” response indicating that he or she has no criminal history record information on file with the agency. This is known as a Personal Record Review.

Access to criminal history record information for employment or licensing is only permitted if there is a state law, federal law, or local law of a New York State village, town, city or county that specifically authorizes a fingerprint-based criminal history record background check.

Individuals cannot request criminal history record information for another person to determine if that person has a criminal history.

Guide to the New York State Criminal History Record (PDF, 14 pages): This document contains an example of a criminal history record, commonly referred to as a “rap sheet,” to provide explanations and details about the type of information that can be included.

Criminal History Record Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 7 pages): This document contains more information about criminal history records, access to them, how to challenge the accuracy or completeness of records, and other documents available to assist individuals with criminal convictions.

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines: This link contains guidance that addresses the exclusion of job applicants with criminal records

Personal Record Review Program

New York State regulations allow an individual to receive a copy of his or her criminal history record information maintained at DCJS or a "no record" response indicating that the individual has no criminal history record information on file with the agency. An attorney may also request this information on behalf of his or her client.

This process is known as a Personal Record Review. Individuals cannot request a Personal Record Review for another person in order to determine if that person has a criminal history. Criminal history records also are commonly referred to as rap sheets.

There are two types of Personal Record Review responses:

Personal Record Review – Unsuppressed: This response contains all criminal history record information suppressed or sealed under the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), including:

  • CPL 160.50 dismissed cases
  • CPL 160.55 eligible violation/infraction convictions
  • CPL 160.58 eligible substance abuse and related convictions
  • CPL 720.35 youthful offender adjudications

Personal Record Review – Suppressed: This response does not include sealed or suppressed information, as detailed above.

Information Required for a Personal Record Review

An individual or his or her attorney must choose to receive either an unsuppressed or suppressed Personal Record Review response. If both responses are needed, a separate request must be submitted for each response. 

Individuals who believe they have criminal history record information under more than one name must include those name(s) as aliases on the Personal Record Review application and fingerprint card.  This information will help DCJS locate additional sealed records.

An individual can use his or her criminal history record information report/rap sheet, or his or her “no record” response for any personal reason.

However, an individual may not use that information to obtain a job or license if he or she is required by law to undergo a fingerprint-based background check for that job or license. There is a separate process that individuals must undergo if a fingerprint-based background check is required for a job or license; see the tab titled: Access to Criminal History Records.

New York State Labor Law prohibits employers from requiring individuals to be fingerprinted as a condition of obtaining or continuing a job, unless required to do so by law.  This section does not apply to:

  • Employees of state or municipal departments;
  • Employees of legally incorporated hospitals, and employees of medical colleges associated with such hospitals;
  • Employees of private proprietary hospitals.

New York State Labor Law also requires that every employer shall post, in a place accessible to his or her employees, a copy of Correction Law Article 23-A, which deals with the licensing and employment of persons convicted of crimes.

Please click the appropriate link for information on requesting a Personal Criminal History Record Review:

Record Review Fee-Based (Living in New York State)

To Request a Public Record Review While Living in New York State:

  1. To schedule an appointment for fingerprinting, contact MorphoTrust USA by calling 1-877-472-6915 (toll-free) or visiting its website:  www.Identogo.com.  New York State contracts with MorphoTrust USA to provide this service.
  2. The following information must be provided when calling to schedule an appointment:
    1. The Record Review ORI Number: NYDCJSPRY
    2. The type of Personal Record Review: Suppressed or Unsuppressed
    3. If the response will be sent to an attorney instead of the individual making the request
  3. Individuals must provide the following upon arrival for the fingerprinting appointment:
    1. Two forms of identification (information on acceptable forms are available on the MorphoTrust USA website or from the MorphoTrust USA Call Center); 

      AND
    2. Payment for fingerprinting services: $59.95 using cash, credit card or personal or business check, certified check, bank check or money order made out to "MorphoTrust USA".

After Submitting a Request 

Individuals may verify that their fingerprint transaction has been submitted to DCJS by contacting MorphoTrust USA at 1-877-472-6915 (toll-free).

DCJS will send the Personal Record Review response via U.S. mail within seven to 10 business days after it receives an individual’s fingerprints. Responses cannot be picked up at DCJS.

The response may include criminal history information, civil information when fingerprints are submitted by law for employment or licensure, or “no response,” which indicates no criminal history on file with DCJS. Also included in the response is a form explaining how to challenge the accuracy of any reported information.

Record Review Fee-Based (Living Outside New York State)

To Request a Record Review While Living Outside New York State:

  1. Contact the DCJS Record Review Unit to request an out-of-state Record Review application packet by:
    1. E-Mail:  RecordReview@dcjs.ny.gov. Please provide current complete mailing address, including addresses outside the United States, to obtain the application packet. The packet cannot be sent via e-mail. 

      OR
    2. Surface Mail: 

      Record Review Unit
      Office of Criminal Justice Operations
      New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
      Alfred E. Smith Building
      80 South Swan St.
      Albany, New York 12210
  2. Complete the "Request for MorphoTrust USA Cardscan Fingerprinting Services – NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Record Review Program" application form and select the type of Personal Record Review: Suppressed or Unsuppressed.
  3. Obtain fingerprints on the enclosed fingerprint card and complete the demographic information on the card. Please use only the card provided and do not fold it. If applicable, complete the authorization on the application form to have the Record Review response mailed to an attorney.
  4. Send the completed application form and fingerprint card, along with the fee of $59.95, which can be paid by credit card or personal or business check, certified check, bank check or money order made out "MorphoTrust USA," to the following address:

    MorphoTrust USA 
    New York Card Scan Department
    3051 Hollis Drive, Suite 310
    Springfield, IL 62704

After Submitting a Request

Individuals may verify that their fingerprint transaction has been submitted to DCJS by contacting MorphoTrust USA at this toll-free number: 1-877-472-6915.

DCJS will send the Personal Record Review response via U.S. mail within seven to 10 business days after it receives an individual’s fingerprints. Responses cannot be picked up at DCJS.

The response may include criminal history information, civil information when fingerprints are submitted by law for employment or licensure, or “no response,” which indicates no criminal history on file with DCJS. Also included in the response is a form explaining how to challenge the accuracy of any reported information.

Record Review Fee Waiver

To Request a Record Review and the Waiver of the $50 DCJS Record Review Fee:

Individuals unable to pay the fingerprint processing fee may contact DCJS to request a Record Review Fee Waiver application packet by:

E-Mail:  RecordReview@dcjs.ny.gov. Please provide current complete mailing address, including addresses outside the United States, to obtain the application packet. The packet cannot be sent via e-mail. 

OR

Surface Mail: 

Record Review Unit
Office of Criminal Justice Operations
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
Alfred E. Smith Building
80 South Swan St.
Albany, New York 12210

  1. Complete and return the Record Review Fee Waiver packet to the DCJS Record Review Unit (address above) and select the type of Personal Record Review: Suppressed or Unsuppressed.
  2. Please include the following:
    1. The Record Review Fee Waiver application form.
    2. The completed fingerprint card: obtain fingerprints on the enclosed fingerprint card and complete the demographic information on the card. Please use only the card provided and do not fold it. If applicable, complete the authorization on the application form to have the Record Review response mailed to an attorney.
    3. Documentation to support the request for a fee waiver such as a photocopy of a valid and current public assistance benefits card; or a notarized financial statement listing available assets and current income, which includes a certification or attestation that the statement is true and accurate.
  3. DCJS staff will process the fingerprint cards after the Record Review Fee Waiver request has been approved.

After Submitting a Request

After mailing the Record Review Fee Waiver Request to DCJS, please allow for a minimum of seven to 10 business days for a response, which will be sent via U.S. Mail.

The response may include criminal history information, civil information when fingerprints are submitted by law for employment or licensure, or “no response,” which indicates no criminal history on file with DCJS. Also included in the response is a form explaining how to challenge the accuracy of any reported information.

Access to Criminal History Records

Criminal history record information maintained by DCJS may only be released to entities having statutory authority to access that information or pursuant to a judicial order or subpoena. Criminal history records are commonly referred to as “rap sheets.”

New York State Executive Law defines the “qualified agencies” that are eligible to access criminal history record information. Access to criminal history record information for employment or licensing is permitted only if there is a state law, federal law, or local law of a New York State village, town, city or county that specifically authorizes a fingerprint-based criminal history record background check.

Every agency or organization authorized to access criminal history record information has a contract with DCJS known as a Use and Dissemination Agreement. This agreement outlines the responsibilities of DCJS and the entity authorized to access criminal history record information.
Agencies or organizations seeking access to criminal history record information must submit a request in writing.

Request for Access to Criminal History Record Information (PDF, 2 pages)

Individuals, agencies and organizations that do not have statutory authority to access criminal history record information maintained by DCJS can check the following for more information:

  • The New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) provides conviction records for a fee of $65. For more information, visit www.nycourts.gov and click on the FAQs link or call the Criminal History Search Unit at (212) 428-2943 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision maintains information about individuals who are serving or have served state prison sentences and those who are, or have been, on parole. Visit www.doccs.ny.gov to access the “Inmate Lookup” and “Parolee Lookup” search functions.
  • The New York State Sex Offender Registry maintains information about registered sex offenders. By law, only information about Level 2 (medium risk of re-offense) and Level 3 (high risk of re-offense) offenders is available via the Sex Offender link on the DCJS website.
    • Information about Level 1 (low risk of re-offense), 2 and 3 offenders, and offenders whose risk level has not yet been determined by a court, is available through a toll-free number: 1-800-262-3257, option 2. Callers must provide a full name and either an exact address, birth date, driver’s license number or Social Security number.
    • Employers, volunteer organizations or operators of children’s camps also may submit a list of names to the Registry so those names can be checked against the Registry’s database. For more information, click here.

Questions regarding access to criminal history record information should be directed to the DCJS Office of Legal Services at (518) 457-8413. Inquiries also may be sent via:

  • E-Mail: dcjslegalservices@dcjs.ny.gov. Please use “Criminal History Record Information Access Inquiry” in the subject line.

    OR
  • Surface Mail:  

    New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
    Office of Legal Services
    Criminal History Record Information Access Inquiry
    Alfred E. Smith Building
    80 South Swan St.
    Albany, New York 12210

Arrests Involving Suspected Identity Theft

DCJS can assist individuals who believe their identifying information, such as name, date of birth or Social Security number, has been fraudulently used by another person arrested for a crime for which he or she was fingerprinted.

Contact DCJS by:

Phone: (518) 457-6063 or 1-800-262-3257, option 1 (ask to speak with David Rowell)

OR

E-Mail:  david.rowell@dcjs.ny.gov

OR

Surface Mail: 

Manager, Records Management Unit
Office of Criminal Justice Operations
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
Alfred E. Smith Building
80 South Swan St., Room 629
Albany, New York 12210

Individuals must provide the following information:

  1. Details about the arrest event that allegedly includes their identifying information. This includes date(s) of arrest(s), court docket numbers, or other documentation, such as newspaper articles, to identify the arrest so DCJS staff can retrieve the information; and
  2. Their fingerprints. Individuals can request fingerprint cards from DCJS by calling or sending an e-mail. Upon receiving the card, individuals should go to their local police department or sheriff’s office to have their fingerprints taken. The completed fingerprint card should be returned to DCJS with information about the alleged arrest event.

Once DCJS receives the appropriate information, the agency will evaluate the claim and issue a letter indicating either:

  1. Claim Founded: The letter will indicate that the individual’s fingerprints do not match the arrest fingerprints to which they were compared, but that certain identifying information was used in connection with an arrest; or
  2. Claim Not Founded: The letter will indicate that DCJS cannot substantiate the claim that the individual’s identifying information was used by someone else during an arrest.