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New York StateUnified Court System

FAQs


Introduction

What information is required when conducting a criminal history record search (CHRS)?

The NYS Office of Court Administration (OCA) requires the individual’s full First Name (minimum of one character), full Last Name, and Date of Birth.

How does OCA's Criminal History Record Search program work?
You need to have the individual’s full Name and DOB. You can submit your search via OCA’s on-line application called Direct Access or you can complete the CHRS application form which can be downloaded from the NYS Courts website (www.nycourts.gov/apps/chrs.) Submit the application with a check or money order made out to the NYS Office of Court Administration. The search mechanism is based on finding an EXACT match of the actual name and date of birth of the individual searched. The individual's middle initial is not used as part of the search mechanism. Any variation of either the Name or DOB in the database is not considered a match and is not reported. Searches can also be requested for business entities.
What is Direct Access?

Direct Access is the NYS Office of Court Administration’s (OCA) on-line Criminal History Record Search (CHRS) program. NY Statewide criminal background checks can be requested on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week with payment either by e-check or credit/debit card. For more information, visit our website at:
www.nycourts.gov/apps/chrs.

Typically, the CHRS - Direct Access results are returned in a timely fashion. If I don’t get results in a few hours, should I just resubmit?
Do not resubmit previously sent requests without checking the ‘RECEIPTS’ link in Direct Access. This link displays the status of previous search requests during the last six months including your current request. If the status of your current request reflects it’s in the ‘PROCESSING’ stage, this means the outcome of the search needs to be reviewed and upon completion will be e-mailed to you. If, however, you don’t see any activity, contact the CHRS Unit.
If while submitting a criminal background check via Direct Access and I experience a system or technical error, should I resubmit the request?
If you experience a problem while submitting a search request due to a system error, do not resubmit your request. Contact the CHRS Unit so we can research the problem and inform you of the status of your request.
How many counties are included in the New York Statewide search?
All of the State's 62 counties. Individual electronic county searches are not provided.
What kind of information is included in the statewide search?

Conviction and pending records as it relates to felony and misdemeanor cases originating in Town and Village Courts, City, and County/Supreme Courts. Sealed records are not reported. As of July 20, 2007, data relating to noncriminal offenses (e.g., violations, infractions) will no longer appear as part of the CHRS Report. Cases processed in Town/Village Courts from 1991 to 2002 are not part of the NYS Office of Court Administration's criminal disposition database.

Why does OCA not provide information on violations and infractions?

As a result of a recent case filed in a New York court, the Unified Court System has reviewed its policy regarding the contents of criminal history summaries that it provides to individuals and businesses upon their request and for a fee. The review has resulted in a change of policy to the extent that the summaries provided will report only convictions on charges that New York State law regards as crimes. Crimes are defined by New York State law as including misdemeanors and felonies only. Convictions on offenses classified as violations and infractions which are not crimes as defined by New York State law will no longer be reported unless the criminal history summary includes a misdemeanor or felony conviction for the same event.

Can courts request additional fees from customers who are pursuing incomplete case information reported via the CHRS program?
Yes. The New York (OCA) Statewide CHRS program provides an 'electronic' search of the NYS Court's criminal disposition database reporting the latest information supplied by the courts. If the CHRS report is incomplete and the customer decides to contact the court for additional information, the court, observing their individual operating guidelines, may legitimately request additional fees and instruct you to submit your inquiry by mail.
What does it mean when a charge appears on the CHRS report with the notation ”NO DESCRIPTION AVAILABLE?”

This means the charge displayed is not part of OCA”s charge dictionary. You can contact the court for the charge description or you can access the New State Assembly’s website at: www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg (click “New York State Laws.) This site also includes NYC Administrative Codes.

How often are cases updated?
Within New York City, cases are updated approximately every 24 hours and outside NYC an average of once a week.
Is there a website with court addresses and phone numbers?

Yes. The New York State Court's website: www.nycourts.gov/courts have information which provides court addresses and phone numbers (click Trial Courts or Town/Village Courts.)

What is the CHRS turnaround time for results?

CHRS requests submitted by mail, in person, or via Direct Access is typically completed by the next business day.

How are dual or hyphenated surnames processed through the CHRS program?

Names searched with a dual (e.g., Garcia Rivera, James) or hyphenated (e.g., Garcia-Rivera, James) surname will generate the following variations: with a hyphen (e.g., Garcia-Rivera), with a space (e.g., Garcia Rivera), and dual names together (e.g., Garcia Rivera) Dual surnames are not automatically reconfigured and searched in its single format (e.g., Garcia-Rivera, James searched as Garcia, James and Rivera, James.)

How are dual first names processed through the CHRS program?

Dual ‘first’ names are processed the same as ‘dual’ surnames.

How are surnames appearing with an apostrophe processed through the CHRS program?

Names searched with surnames appearing with an apostrophe (e.g., O'Donahue) will generate the following variations: with an apostrophe (e.g., O'Donahue), with a space (e.g., O Donahue), and surname intact (e.g., ODonahue.)

How are names appearing with a suffix (e.g., Jr., III) processed through the CHRS program?

Names searched with a suffix will prompt the following variations: with a suffix as entered (e.g., John Smith Jr.) and without (e.g., John Smith.) However, names searched without a suffix will not generate names appearing with a suffix in the database.

Are Town and Village courts criminal disposition data included in the NYS Statewide search?

NYS Town and Village court dispositions are not available for the period May 1991 through 2002. As of April 2007, all Town and Village courts report to OCA. All City and County/Supreme courts, within the 62 counties, are required to report criminal disposition data to the NYS Office of Court Administration.

Are the CHRS results provided by the Office of Court Administration certified?

No. However, you can contact the court of origination and request a Certificate of Disposition for a nominal fee. A Certificate of Disposition is an official court document affixed with the Court Seal reflecting the disposition of the case. Court Locations and phone numbers are available on the New York State Court's website: www.nycourts.gov/courts.

What days of the year is the NYS Office of Court Administration's CHRS Unit closed for business?

The holiday schedule for the NYS Office of Court Administration is available via the New York State Court's website.