Massachusetts Public Records

The process of gaining access to public records in the state of Massachusetts is quite straightforward. Read on to learn how you can gain access to the different types of public records.

The public records law states that any record in the custody of or created by any government entity must be made available to the public unless it can be proven that the information may compromise the safety of the public.

Exemptions to this open records policy include:

  • Trade secrets
  • Medical reports
  • Investigatory materials of law enforcement agency
  • Personal notebooks of the employees
  • Adoption information
  • Closed proposals and bids
  • Personal information from the firearm permit application
  • Personal information on judicial employees
  • Assessment questions and answers

Massachusetts Criminal Records

Criminal records checks in Massachusetts can be done on nearly anyone, with simple background checks that provide arrest records and a wide range of other detailed information. Criminal records in Massachusetts are called a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI. Most of these records including arrest records, inmate records and jail records are available to any individual through an online search that the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services runs. While employers, government agencies, landlords, and real estate agents will see more detailed and complete report, any citizen can also pull reports on any individual that will give recent convictions.

You can easily obtain arrest records and jail and inmate records. To locate an offender at the state Department of Correction facilities, you must have the last name, first name, and or commitment number of the offender. The information is available at Vinelink.com. For further information, simply call 877) 421-8463.

You can contact Massachusetts Victim Services unit if you still have any concern or question about an inmate who is currently held at the Department of Correction facility.

Massachusetts Court Records

The right method of obtaining court records in Massachusetts depends on the type of case and the particular court where the case was heard. Some trial court cases can be accessed electronically through eAccess. Here, you can search the trial court case by case type, case number, and case name. Any court information and records prior to 1860 is available at the Massachusetts Judicial Archives found at the State Archives of Boston.

Massachusetts Vital Records

Massachusetts Vital Records include birth, marriage, divorce and death records. You can request for any of these records through the state’s Department of Human Services, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.

  • Birth records: Birth records in the state of Massachusetts are organized into pre-1850 category, 1841-1920 category, and 1921-resent category. Records from pre-1850 were collected from city, town and county registers. All birth records in 1900 were collected and registered in state index. The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics keeps these records. Birth records from 1841 to 1920 are available at the Massachusetts State Archives.
  • Death records: Death records catalog in the state of Massachusetts are organized into pre-1850 category, 1841-1920 category, and 1921-resent category. All death records from 1841-1920 and pre-1850 categories were gathered from city, church and town registers. Death records are gathered yearly from the Massachusetts State Archives. You can obtain them through the Family History Library and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
  • Marriage records: Marriage records are organized into pre-1850 category, 1841-1920 category, and 1921-resent category. Records from the pre-1850 category were gathered from the county clerks’ offices. Records from 1786 to 1887 are available at the Judicial Archives facility. Records from 1922 to present are available at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.
  • Divorce records: The probate court system have been handling court records in the state of Massachusetts since 1922. These records are usually filed where the involved parties or couple last lived in together.

You can always use this information to gain access to a variety of public information and records in Massachusetts. Be sure to direct your request to the right place.

Massachusetts State Court System

Understanding how the system of Massachusetts state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.

Massachusetts Courts Overview

To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Massachusetts by simply going to courts by county.

The trial court system of Massachusetts State consists of Land Court, Boston Municipal Courts, Juvenile Courts, Housing Courts, Probate and Family Courts, District Courts, and Superior Courts.

Superior Courts

Massachusetts Superior Courts have general jurisdiction to handle all criminal and civil cases, but typically handles only the cases that other courts have no jurisdiction to handle.

Generally, these courts hear criminal cases that have a potential sentence that exceeds 5 years imprisonment or those cases that are considered to be serious felonies. They also handle many Abuse Prevention cases, except for the cases that arise exclusively from an engagement or a dating relationship.

General civil cases that Superior Courts handle include civil claims for more than $25,000 in dispute. The courts also hear some landlord-tenant cases of any financial limits.

Besides, these courts also handle certain claims that have been made by Massachusetts Sate, many claims against the Sate, many cases seeking equitable relief, and some cases with real estate issues. Superior Courts also have jurisdiction over real estate cases, Abuse prevention, and certain criminal cases with other courts.

District Courts

Massachusetts District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases. Apart from downtown Boston, these courts serve the entire Massachusetts.

General cases that these courts hear include felony offenses with possible punishment of not more than five years of incarceration, and other types of preliminary and felony hearings. Violations of town and city ordinances and most misdemeanors are also handled by District Courts.

Typical civil cases that these courts handle include general civil claims for disputed amount being less than $25,000. Landlord-tenant cases are also handled by these courts without any limitation on the disputed amount.

Probate and Family Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of cases. The cases they handle include guardianships, adoption, probate matters, abuse prevention, and domestic relations.

The typical cases that Probate and Family Courts handle include abuse prevention, annulment or affirmation of marriage, name changes, administration  of state, termination of parental rights, paternity, the probate of wills, child support and child custody.

Housing Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over real property, cases involving health and safety of the residents, and goods and services related to real property.

Typical cases handled by Housing Courts are those that arise from violations of local and state law, including sanitation codes, building codes, and other laws connected to health, safety, and welfare of occupants, the general public and owners.

Juvenile Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of cases, including child protection, juvenile delinquency, guardianship, termination of parental rights, adoption, and some criminal cases that involve minors.

Boston Municipal Courts

These courts share limited jurisdiction with District Courts, with certain extra jurisdiction for some types of cases.

Typical criminal cases that Boston Municipal Courts hear include felonies with possible punishment of not more than five years of incarceration, preliminary hearings for felony cases of all types, and other types of felonies. Civil cases include many general civil claims for disputed amount being less than $25,000.

Also handled by Boston Municipal Courts are mental health cases, Abuse Prevention, some cases involving appeals of decisions by administrative agencies, some cases seeking equitable relief, money judgments enforcement.

Land Court

Land Court operates from a location in Boston, and it serves the entire state. It has exclusive jurisdiction over cases related to real estate. However, it typically handles only certain types of cases related to real estate, including partition actions, and some redemption and foreclosure actions connected to titles.

Land Court also shares jurisdiction with other courts over some specific types of cases. It doesn’t offer trials by jury.

The Official Website of Massachusetts County

Boston Boston
Worcester City of Worcester, MA Welcome to the official governmental website for the City of Worcester, MA. Here you will find all city administration, services and information related to Worcester.
Springfield City of Springfield
Lowell
Cambridge Welcome to the City of Cambridge – City of Cambridge, MA Find all you need to know about living in, working in, and visiting the city of Cambridge.
New Bedford City of New Bedford Official Website
Brockton City of Brockton Home Page for the City of Brockton
Quincy Quincy, MA
Lynn City of Lynn Website Mayor Thomas M. McGee welcomes you to the official website of Lynn, Massachusetts.
Fall River Official Municipal Website of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts Official Municipal Website of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts
Newton Newton, MA
Lawrence Lawrence, MA | Official Website
Somerville City of Somerville
Framingham City of Framingham, MA Official Website
Haverhill Welcome to Haverhill, MA Welcome to Haverhill, MA
Middlesex County Courthouse Locator | Mass.gov Find out which courts serve your city or town.
Worcester County Massachusetts District Attorney Association | Mass.gov MDAA is an independent state agency whose mission is to support the eleven elected Massachusetts District Attorneys and their staff, including approximately 785 prosecutors and 260 victim-witness advocates.
Essex County Essex County, Massachusetts
Suffolk County Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association | Mass.gov MSA improves public safety by promoting greater understanding of issues impacting sheriffs’ offices and by bringing together law enforcement and criminal justice professionals.
Norfolk County Norfolk County Welcome to the website of the County of Norfolk, Massachusetts, the County of Presidents! This site provides information and links to County departments, city and town governments, and related agencies.
Bristol County County Of Bristol | Founded in 1685
Plymouth County Official Website of Plymouth County, Massachusetts The official website of Plymouth County, Massachusetts; Visit our Plymouth County office at 44 Obery Street, Plymouth, MA 02360
Hampden County Hampden County Registry of Deeds
Barnstable County Learn more about Barnstable County | Regional Government for Cape Cod : Barnstable County Welcome to Cape Cod’s Regional Government, Barnstable County. Find information regarding our services to the fifteen towns, including departments, legislative and executive branches.
Hampshire County Visit Western Massachusetts Near Northampton and Amherst Welcome to Hampshire County, the heart of the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts. Explore things to do near Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton.
Berkshire County Massachusetts District Attorney Association | Mass.gov MDAA is an independent state agency whose mission is to support the eleven elected Massachusetts District Attorneys and their staff, including approximately 785 prosecutors and 260 victim-witness advocates.
Franklin County Town of Franklin MA
Dukes County Dukes County, MA
Nantucket County Nantucket, MA – Official Website

Massachusetts Arrests and Inmate Search

Family and Visitor Information | Essex County Sheriff’s Department Essex County Detention Center
Visiting an Inmate | Fcso Franklin County Jail
Hampden County Correctional Center (Main Institution) | Hampden County Sheriff’s Department Hampden County Main Institution
Middlesex Jail & House of Correction | Middlesex Sheriff Middlesex County Jail
Inmate Information & Funding Plymouth County Correctional Facility
South Bay House of Correction – Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department To serve and protect the citizens of Suffolk County.
WCSO Inmate Search Worcester County Inmate Search
Massachusetts Department of Correction The Department of Correction oversees the state prison system, managing inmates at 16 institutions across the state.
Massachusetts Criminal Record Check Service A criminal record check lets you view someone’s available criminal history.  The types of criminal records are name-based court arraignment records and fingerprint-supported arrest records.
Search Court Dockets, Calendars and Case Information Free access to basic case information and scheduled court dates for members of the public and attorneys.
Sex Offender Registry Board The Sex Offender Registry Board promotes public safety by educating and informing the public to prevent further victimization. We register and classify convicted sex offenders according to their risk of re-offense and the degree of danger they pose.