Public records are files collected in various formats, including paper, digital or electronic materials contained by government offices and regarded as public property. The community has the right to access, scrutinize, and copy without necessarily providing any reason for seeking these files. The North Carolina Freedom of Information Law gives the residents of the State the right to search, obtain and use public files kept by authorized administrative bodies. These government departments have a mandate by law to make these papers available to any interested entity. These shared files include bankruptcy papers, court documents, police and arrest papers, criminal archives, health information, inmate data, and business files.
North Carolina Court Records
Persons in North Carolina can access court records at public terminals majorly in two ways:
1. Party name search. This kind of search allows requestors to use party name search to access court records without the file numbers at the public, self-service terminals. The best way to perform a name search is to type the last name, a comma. The first initial typically comes after, since party name searches follow a specific arrangement to deliver consistent results from information recovery. Requestors can use full names (separated by commas and no space in-between) or part of the party’s name to run a search.
2. File Number Search. Finding court records by file number is the most efficient way. However, requesters cannot conduct state-wide or multiple county searches using file numbers. A case number is an identification number assigned to a legal proceeding once filed in court. Individuals who wish to obtain case numbers to aid their search can do so by visiting the office of the clerk of the Superior Court.
Requesters can also make an in-person request at the courthouse of the particular case proceedings. The Clerk of Court is the primary custodian of court records. However, sometimes finding court files at the courthouses may be time-consuming and slow. Interested persons can search out court records from third-party websites by providing:
- The name of the person listed in the record except the subject is a juvenile
- The person’s last known location as documented in the record, including cities, counties, or states.
Bankruptcy Records in North Carolina
Bankruptcy registers are not sealed and are publicly accessible in North Carolina. The North Carolina bankruptcy process works by overriding the contracts between you and your creditors, allowing a troubled business entity a new start. A bankruptcy case starts when you file your paperwork with the local bankruptcy court. In North Carolina, there are three separate federal judicial districts, each with a dedicated bankruptcy court. These Bankruptcy courts are:
1 United States Bankruptcy Court Middle District of North Carolina
2 United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of North Carolina
3 United States Bankruptcy Court Western District of North Carolina
Anyone interested can get bankruptcy records from the court clerk at the courthouses or online using a case locator portal provided by the United States Courts.
North Carolina Criminal Record
Criminal records in North Carolina are official papers that provide details of malefactor activities within the State. These papers are collected and organized by divisions of law enforcement, courts, and correctional centers in the State. There are various reasons people run malefactor background checks to ascertain a person’s previous involvement in criminal activities. Criminal records, also known as a rap sheet, describe offenses of alleged and convicted felons as well as apprehension and conviction details, and it contains information such as:
- Full name and alias of the subject
- The date of birth of the subject
- Other information such as gender, race, and any other identifying data
- A set of fingerprints of the subject
- Account of criminal offenses and indictment
- Conviction records
- Past and outstanding warrants
Individuals interested in obtaining criminal records may use public access computers at the clerk’s office at their county superior court or from approved third-party vendors. Interested persons can also run background checks at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety or a fingerprint-based NC-criminal history check. This check is also known as your “Right to Review” your North Carolina record at the State Bureau of Investigation official website. There is a $14.00 processing fee attached to this process. Contact the NC Department of Public Safety at:
512 North Salisbury, Raleigh
4201 Mail service Center,
Raleigh, NC 27699-4201
Phone number: 919-733-2126
The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry
In North Carolina, a person convicted of certain sex offenses is a sex offender. These offenders have an obligation by law to create and maintain registration compliance with the North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Programs. Sex offenders who live or relocate into the State are required to register with the County Sheriff, and their identifying information will be entered into the database and made available to the community. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) maintains the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. People who wish to search the NC sex offender registry can visit the official website of the NCSBI.
Vital records provide details of life’s events such as childbirth, fatalities, civil union, and dissolutions within the State. Vital records are open for public inspection; however, individuals have specific requirements to obtain vital records in North Carolina. These requirements vary depending on the type of record. Generally, no identification or document is needed to view an uncertified copy of vital data. However, to obtain certified copies, a requester must provide a copy of a valid ID card. Acceptable ID cards include:
- A driver’s license.
- Current passport or visa.
- Current student ID.
- Other valid proof of identification.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) primarily manages vital records in the State. Requesters can do a walk-in search, make a request via mail to the agency for a fee or search for the records they wish to obtain online by providing:
- The full name of the person listed in the record
- Date of event, county, and the city the event occurred
- Information about parents of the person named on the record
- Requestor’s information
- Information on the identity of the requester such as ID number
- The case number (divorce records only)
Contact the Vital Information Office at:
NC Vital Records
1903 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1903
Cost of copies: certified copies for childbirth, demise, marital unions, and dissolution cost $24.00 each and $15.00 each for additional documents requested at the same time.
Finally, North Carolina is an open record state. Anyone can access the Public Records in North Carolina by following the set procedure and paying application fees to obtain public records where applicable.