FOIL: Frequently Asked Questions
Q - What is a government record?
A - Under FOIL, a record is defined as information kept in any physical form whatsoever by a government agency. (Public Officers Law Article 6 § 86.) The Law does not require an agency to answers questions.
Q - What records can I ask for under FOIL?
A - All government records are available except records or portions of records that fall within a series of exceptions to rights of access; these exemptions are specified in the Freedom of Information Law. (Public Officers Law Article 6 § 87.)
Q - Do I need to submit a FOIL request for my accident report?
A - No. As of 2006, Police Accident Reports (MV-104A) are available from the NYS Dept of Motor Vehicles: www.nydmv.state.ny.us/AIS/.
Q - How is my identity protected from someone else’s FOIL request for records?
A - The Freedom of Information Law provides criteria for exempting information that is potentially harmful if disclosed. More than half of these exemptions address privacy and protection. Refer to Public Officers Law Article 6 § 87 subsection 2 and § 89 subsection 2.
Q - If I am the victim of a crime, can anyone get my name through FOIL?
A - No. The Division of State Police adheres to the principle of privacy protection and therefore will not routinely release names of crime victims.
Q - If I was convicted of a crime can anyone get my name through FOIL?
A - Yes. Court convictions are public records. Exceptions are convicted juveniles and court-ordered sealed records.
Q - If I have a sealed juvenile criminal record, can anyone get my name through FOIL?
A - No. New York State Criminal Procedure Law prevents both juvenile criminal records and sealed records from being made public.
Q - How do I get a copy of a record under FOIL?
A - All requests are made in writing. Use the form provided on this website for records governed by Public Officers Law Article 6 § 87 (FOIL) or mail a letter requesting specific records. Refer to Investigative and Reconstruction Reports Request Process or Freedom of Information Request Process on this website.
Q - Is there a charge for accessing State Police records under FOIL?
A - Yes. The fees are set by the Public Officer’s Law. Refer to Freedom of Information Response Process on this website.
Q - Can I inspect the records for no charge?
A - Yes. Legally accessible records that are available in their entirety can be viewed without charge. However, records containing some information that is exempt from disclosure are not viewable. Refer to Freedom of Information Response Process on this website.
Q - How long does it take to get a copy of a record that I have requested under FOIL?
A - Though we make every effort to answer requests in 5 business days, it may not be possible for several reasons including complex or lengthy requests, extensive statewide searches, limited resources, or large quantity of records responsive. We will, however, acknowledge your request within 5 business days of receipt and will provide an estimated time frame for completion.
Q - Can I come to pick up the copies of records responsive to my FOIL request?
A - No. We will send them directly to the requestor’s address given.
Q - What are redactions?
A - "Redacting" is a method by which statutorily exempted information in a record can be "blacked-out" while accessible information can remain visible to you.
Q - Why can my FOIL request for a record be denied?
A - The Freedom of Information Law provides 9 categories of exemptions. The State Police will give the specific reasons for denial in the final correspondence. See Freedom of Information Denial and Appeal Process.
Q - How can I see the Freedom of Information Law?
A - The New York State Legislature posts all current laws on line. For further information, go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us, search Laws of New York, choose Public Officers, choose Article 6.
Q - How do I request a disposition of a criminal case?
A - Dispositions for criminal cases are maintained by the appropriate court of jurisdiction, not by the State Police. Contact the local criminal court in the town, village, or city in which the incident occurred.
Q - How do I request a review of my Criminal History record?
A - In New York State, Criminal History records are not maintained by the Division of State Police but by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. For more information, go to: www.criminaljustice.ny.gov.