Delaware Public Records

Any government-related recorded or filed reports, documents, photographs, licenses, and other forms of information are considered public records open for the public to inspect.

Local, state, and federal government agencies maintain public records; each agency is individually responsible for the access, retrieval, fees, and other public record policies. You can often find public records online. You can also request public records in person or by mail. Typically there are fees associated with public records.

While public records are open and available for the general public to inspect, there are exemptions, fees, and time constraints involved with the process. That’s why we have compiled this guide for public records in Delaware. We will start by examining the laws that define public records.

Which federal laws apply to public records in the United States?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the federal law that acts as the foundation for most states’ open records law. The FOIA went into effect in 1967 after being signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

The FOIA mandates that all federal government agencies allow the public to access records created by, maintained by, or kept by federal government agencies. Federal agencies must provide documents when requested by a person or party unless that information is considered confidential and exempted by law. The federal agency responsible is required to explain why it cannot release the information requested in that case.

How does Delaware law define public records?

Delaware law states that government business must be conducted in an open and public manner, furthering public officials’ accountability. Public records must be easily accessible to citizens.

Delaware defines a public record as information drafted, created, used, owned, or otherwise collected or compiled by a public body. Public records involve all public business conducted by the state’s entities, agencies, or other government bodies. Public records are considered open to citizens to inspect regardless of how those records are stored or what type of format they are kept in.

Exemptions

There are exemptions to the Delaware Open Records Act. The following records are not public information:

  • Medical or personnel files
  • Trade secrets and financial or commercial information
  • Criminal or civil law enforcement investigation files
  • Law enforcement intelligence files
  • Anonymous charitable contributions to a public entity
  • Public library records
  • Emergency response policies and procedures
  • Information technology infrastructure details maintained or operated by the state of Delaware.
  • Military service discharge documents
  • Any communications between a General Assembly member and their constituent

For a full list of exemptions, click here.

Court Records

This section gives an overview of Delaware’s court system, including how the specific courts within the state work, what court records are available to the public, and how to search for court records.

The Delaware Judiciary includes judicial agencies, the Justice of the Peace Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the Family Court, the Superior Court, the Court of Chancery, and the Supreme Court. Litigation typically becomes more complex and costly from the lower-level court, the Justice of the Peace Court, to the highest court in the state, the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, created by the Constitution of Delaware, Article IV, Section 1, is the State’s appellate court. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the Family Court, the Superior Court, and the Court of Chancery.

As the courts’ administrative head, the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice is responsible for setting the court system’s administrative policy. The Supreme Court is located in Dover, Delaware; however, the justices’ chambers are in the county that they live in. Arms of the Supreme Court include:

The Court of Chancery has jurisdiction over all equity matters, including estates, trusts, corporate issues, land purchases, real estate titles, contracts, and other fiduciary matters. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the Court of Chancery.

Delaware’s court of general jurisdiction is the Superior Court. The Superior Court has jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, including exclusive jurisdiction over drug offenses and felonies. There is no monetary maximum for civil case award damages.

The Superior Court acts as the intermediate appellate court as it hears appeals from Family Court criminal cases, the Court of Common Pleas, and numerous administrative agencies. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the Superior Court.

The Family Court has jurisdiction over all juvenile and family matters. The Superior Court hears criminal case appeals from the Family Court, while the Supreme Court hears all civil appeals from the Family Court.

The Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over civil cases not exceeding $75,000, misdemeanor criminal cases (except traffic offenses and drug-related offenses). It is responsible for preliminary hearings for felony charges.

The Justice of the Peace Court is the entry-level court for civil cases not exceeding $25,000. The Justice of the Peace Court hears most motor vehicle cases (except for felonies), misdemeanors and can serve as a committing magistrate for all crimes.

The Court of Common Pleas hears appeals from the Justice of the Peace Court, except for truancy proceedings related to juveniles, which can be appealed to the Family Court.

There are several other judicial agencies outside of the courts in Delaware, including the following:

Are court records public information?

Court records in Delaware are considered public information unless otherwise stated by law. Each court in the state has its own policies regarding what records are available and what records are considered confidential. Below you will find details as to what records are exempt within the Delaware court system and where to find more information.

Supreme Court Administration records, Court of Chancery records, and Administrative Offices of the Courts records are open and available for the public to access, with the following exceptions:

  • Personnel, unpaid volunteer, applicant, and independent contractor records
  • Attorney billing information
  • Court interpreter information
  • Testing records
  • Licenced and proprietary materials
  • Competitive bidding records
  • Trade secrets
  • Judicial case assignments
  • Informal/preliminary correspondence, internal deliberations, notes, memoranda, drafts, or work product
  • Litigation records
  • Security records
  • Law library information
  • Calendar information
  • Juror Records
  • Records otherwise made inaccessible

Superior Court Judicial records are considered open and available for the public to access with the following exceptions:

  • Records controlled by statute or common law
  • Sealed records
  • Judicial work product
  • Unexecuted or unreturned warrants
  • Certain criminal history records
  • Drivers License records
  • Witness or Victim Information
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Jury panels
  • Wiretap applications
  • Expunged records
  • Court reporters’ notes
  • Mental commitment case records
  • States Juvenile FireSetter Intervention Program records
  • Medical and psychological records, including, but not limited to, records of court-ordered examinations and drug and alcohol treatment records
  • Personnel records, applications for employment, and records of employment investigations and hearings
  • Proprietary and licensed materials
  • Judicial case assignments
  • Security records
  • Records disclosing persons holding a permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon
  • Trade secrets
  • Competitive bidding records
  • Attorney work product
  • Preliminary and draft reports
  • Records controlled by statute or common law

The public can access the Court of Common Pleas records, except for the following:

  • Records controlled by statute or common law
  • Sealed records
  • Judicial work product
  • Presentence investigation reports
  • Unexecuted or unreturned warrant
  • Certain criminal history records
  • Drivers license records
  • Witness or Victim Information
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Jury panels
  • Expunged records
  • Court reporters’ notes
  • Medical and psychological records, including, but not limited to, records of court-ordered examinations and drug and alcohol treatment records
  • Personnel records, applications for employment, and records of employment investigations and hearings
  • Proprietary and licensed materials
  • Judicial case assignments
  • Security records
  • Trade secrets
  • Attorney work product
  • Preliminary and draft reports
  • Records controlled by statute or common law

Justice of the Peace records, found in this link and this link, is open to the public, except for the following information:

  • Sealed records
  • Judicial work product
  • Unexecuted or unreturned warrants
  • Certain criminal history records
  • Driver’s license records
  • Witness or Victim Information
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Jury panels
  • Expunged records
  • State Juvenile FireSetter Intervention Program records
  • Medical records
  • Records controlled by statute or common law
  • Personnel records
  • Proprietary and licensed materials
  • Judicial case assignments
  • Security records
  • CCTV Surveillance Footage
  • Trade secrets
  • Competitive bidding records
  • Attorney work product
  • Preliminary and draft reports
  • Court interpreter information
  • Attorney billing records
  • Testing records
  • Internal documents
  • Records relating to litigation
  • Law library records
  • Calendar information
  • Juror Records
  • Administration of justice

Search Delaware Court Records

You can request Delaware court records by mail or online.

Request Court Records via Mail

To access Supreme Court Administrative records, you must submit a written request including details regarding what information you are seeking using this form. The more details, the better. Mail your request to the Supreme Court’s Court Administrator, The Renaissance Centre, 405 North King Street, Suite 509, Wilmington, DE 19801. You can also call 302-651-3906 for more information.

The administration has ten business days to provide you with a response to your request. If the records you request are considered confidential and cannot be released to you, the administration has ten business days to let you know. They must let you know what statute, rule, or policy is the reason for the denial.

There is a copying charge of $.25 per page plus staff time and computer time. If your request will cost over $100 in administration or computer fees, the administration must let you know before billing you and may request a deposit.

If your request for records is denied, you can appeal the decision. You must submit your appeal to the Supreme Court within ten working days after the denial.

Civil Case Search Online

You can search civil case information from the Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, and Justice of the Peace Court online via CourtConnect. To access civil dockets on CourtConnect, you can search by:

  • a person’s name, case type, business name
  • judgments against a person or business
  • displaying case information or activities

There is no fee to conduct a search using CourtConnect.

Criminal Records

Criminal records in Delaware will show arrests, warrants, convictions, and sentencing information for offenders processed through the state’s court system. You are also able to search for inmates and sex offenders in Delaware.

Several agencies in Delaware maintain criminal records. Each agency is responsible for establishing the guidelines, policies, and fees for record requests. In this section, we will provide details regarding the following types of criminal records, what agency is responsible for those records, and how to search:

  • Arrest records
  • Warrant records
  • Inmate records
  • Parole records
  • Probation records
  • Juvenile records
  • Sex offender records
  • We will start with arrest records.

Arrest Records

We have compiled a summary of arrest records in 2019 based on the FBI’s Crime in the United States report:

  • 30,038 arrests in 2019
  • 1,898 arrests for violent crimes (offenses of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault)
  • 5,422 arrests for property crimes (offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson)

What is a public arrest record?

Law enforcement agencies create an official arrest record when an individual is arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Arrest records do not declare guilt or innocence. Oftentimes arrest records are used as evidence when determining if a case will go to court.

Even if the individual is acquitted of all charges, the arrest record can be public record for an undetermined time frame.

What does a public arrest record include in Delaware?

A public arrest record generally includes the following information:

  • Arrested individual’s personal information: name, date of birth, address, phone number, etc.
  • Arrested individual’s physical description: race, sex, weight, height, eye and hair color, and any defining birthmarks, tattoos, or scars
  • Incident report filed by the arresting officer
  • Location and date of the arrest
  • Fingerprints and photographs
  • Interrogation details
  • The misdemeanor or felony charges filed.
  • Bail amount
  • Court date

Who can access arrest records?

Any person can access arrest records in Delaware unless otherwise stated by law.

Search Arrest Records in Delaware

There are several ways to search for arrest records in Delaware.

CourtConnect

You can search for arrest records online using CourtConnect by:

Your search will provide you with the case ID number, docket start and end date, case description, status, related cases, parties (attorney, plaintiff, defendant, etc.), case event schedule, and docket entries.

There is no charge to search CourtConnect.

Certified Delaware Criminal History Check

You can also request a certified criminal history background check, obtained via fingerprints, from the Delaware State Police State Bureau of Identification (SBI). You are required to present a photo ID (a valid driver’s license or state ID from any state).

A parent or guardian must authorize a juvenile’s request for a criminal history check. A juvenile must show one of the following: a school ID or photo IDs such as a valid driver’s license or state ID.

The fees to conduct a criminal background check are as follows:

  • State of Delaware Criminal Background Check: $52.00
  • State and Federal Criminal Background Check (required to be mandated by law): $65.00

You can pay by debit or credit card, money orders, certified checks, business checks (made payable to Delaware State Police), or cash (excluding Sussex County). Personal checks and American Express are not accepted.

Delaware private schools can conduct a state and federal background check through SBI due to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Private schools must register before processing an employee. The fee is $65.00.

Request Criminal History Check in Person

You can schedule an appointment with one of Delaware’s three county SBI offices:

  • Kent County: the address is 600 S. Bay Road Suite 1, Dover, DE 19901. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. Call 302-739-5871 to schedule an appointment.
  • Sussex County: the address is 546 S. Bedford Street, Room 202 of the Thurman Adams State Service Center, Georgetown, DE 19947. The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. Call 302-739-2528 to schedule an appointment. Reminder: cash is not accepted at this location.
  • New Castle County: the address is Delaware State Police Troop 2, 100 LaGrange Ave., Newark, DE 19702. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. Call 302-739-2528 to schedule an appointment.

Results are not available the same day that a request is made at any of the locations. Results are forwarded to the requestor as soon as possible.

Out of State Residents Requesting a Certified Criminal History Check

If you are out of state and would like to request a criminal history check for Delaware, you can mail your fingerprint card, an authorization letter, and fee to the Delaware State Police. You can have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting agency or your local police department. An FD-258 Fingerprint Card from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is accepted, and you can print it on regular paper.

State Background Check: You must submit a written authorization letter allowing the Delaware State Police to run a criminal history check. The individual being checked must sign the letter (it does not need to be notarized).

Include your fingerprint card and make sure that it is complete with your name, aliases, social security number, date of birth, address, race, sex, height, weight, hair, eye color, and birthplace. Mail the fingerprint card, $52 fee, and the authorization letter to the address below.

Professional Regulations: You must provide an authorization form signed by the board. Include your fingerprint card and make sure that it is complete with your name, aliases, social security number, date of birth, address, race, sex, height, weight, hair, eye color, and birthplace. Mail the fingerprint card, $65 fee, and the authorization letter to the address below.

Money orders or certified checks made out to Delaware State Police are accepted. Do not send a personal check or cash. Mail your request to the Delaware State Police SBI, PO Box 430, Dover, DE 19903.

Warrant Records Search

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge that allows a law enforcement officer to detain a person associated with a specific crime.

In Delaware, you can search for “wanted persons,” defined as people with a warrant issued by a Delaware court. You can use the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System Online Wanted Person Review to search for a warrant by first or last name.

You can also call 866-751-5327, send an email, or mail your information to the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System. The address is 802 Silver Lake Boulevard, Suite 101, Dover, DE, 19904.

If you have questions or information regarding wanted persons listed on the site, you can call a non-emergency police number, visit Crime Stoppers, or call 800-847-3333.

Delaware Inmate Records

The Bureau of Prisons is a division of the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC). The Bureau of Prisons oversees the state’s four adult correctional facilities:

Per Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act (29 Del. C. § 1000 et seq), inmate records are open and available for the public to inspect. There are several ways to search for an inmate.

Search Inmate Records Online

You can search for an inmate housed in one of Delaware’s correctional facilities via VINELink (Victim Information and Notification Everyday or VINE’s online tool).

You can also request inmate records using Delaware’s Online FOIA Request Form. Be sure to include as many details as possible when submitting your request.

Request Inmate Records In Person, by Mail, or Email

The state of Delaware also allows you to request inmate records by mail, email, or in person. Complete the FOIA Request form and submit it in one of the following ways:

  • Email: Send your completed form to this email.
  • In-person or by mail: You can submit your completed form in person or send it via mail to Tim Martin (Legal Services Administrator) at the DOC Administration Building, 245 McKee Road Dover, DE, 19904.

The agency must provide you with a response, whether it is providing you with the documents requesting, denying your request, or letting you know additional time is needed) within 15 business days after receiving your request.

If you are searching for a Delaware inmate transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Correction (PADOC) under this contract, please find more information here: Pennsylvania Offender Transfer FAQ.

Delaware Juvenile Criminal Records

A juvenile record is an official record documenting children or adolescents’ criminal activity. In Delaware, juvenile cases are heard in Family Court. Per Del. Code tit. 10, §100, juveniles are not considered criminals; instead, juveniles are referred to as adjudicated delinquents.

The state’s overall goal is to rehabilitate the juvenile, and in Family Court, the interest is in favor of the juvenile rather than against it. However, if a juvenile commits a serious crime, such as murder or rape, they can be tried as an adult in Superior Court.

In Delaware, juvenile criminal activity stays on the person’s record even after they turn 18 years of age. According to Delaware law, a person must first be eligible to have juvenile records expunged and submit a formal expungement application.

If the court grants the expungement order, only then will juvenile criminal records be expunged or sealed. You can find additional information in the Juvenile Expungement Instruction Packet provided by the state of Delaware.

For more information regarding juvenile privacy laws in Delaware, click here.

Sex Offender Information

The SBI, a division of the Delaware State Police, is responsible for maintaining the state’s sex offender registry and providing it for the public to access online per Code Title 11, Section 4120 and 4121. The Department of Technology and Information provides technical assistance.

In Delaware, a registered sex offender is classified by the superior court as low-risk/tier 1, moderate-risk/tier 2, or high-risk/tier 3, as requested by the Attorney General. Only high-risk and moderate-risk registered sex offenders will be displayed in the online database.

Registration Requirements and Public Notification upon Release:

  • Tier 1 Offenders: Tier 1 offenders must register for 15 years with verification of information annually. Law enforcement agencies are notified upon registration.
  • Tier 2 Offenders: Tier 2 offenders muster register for 25 years with verification of information every six months. Law enforcement agencies are notified upon registration. Daycares and schools are notified once an offender registers as studying, employed, or residing in the area.
  • Tier 3 Offenders: Tier 3 offenders are required to register their entire lifetime with verification of information every three months. Law enforcement agencies are notified upon registration. Immediate neighbors, daycares, and schools are notified once an offender registers as studying, employed, or residing in the area.

Search Delaware Sex Offender Registry

You can search Delaware’s sex offender registry by name or by location. You can also search for homeless offenders or wanted offenders. A search will provide you with the following information:

  • Registration information (risk level, verification status, original registration date, in prison or not, convicted out of state or not, and whether the person is a repeat offender)
  • Police agency of jurisdiction
  • Identification information (birthdate, skin color, race, gender, height, weight, eye color, hair color)
  • Scars, marks, and tattoos
  • Aliases
  • Addresses
  • Vehicles
  • Convictions

The state of Delaware offers a subscription service if you would like to receive email notifications regarding sex offenders listed on the registry. You must create an account and subscribe to receive notifications.

Vital Records

In Delaware, vital records are considered confidential and are not open for inspection by the public unless otherwise stated by law. The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining vital records in Delaware.

Delaware vital records include births, marriages, and deaths. Delaware law has mandated the recording of vital records since 1913. Since 1913, state law has required the recording of these vital records. Only when a birth record gets to be 72 years old, marriage records 50 years old, and death records 40 years old do they become open to the public.

Delaware Birth Records

In Delaware, birth records are confidential; only those that are eligible per state law can request birth certificates. After 72 years, birth records are open and available to the public to access. You must either be the registrant on the birth record or provide proof that you are one of the following individuals to request a birth certificate:

  • Current spouse
  • Adult children
  • Parents or legal guardians
  • A legal representative of any of the above-mentioned

To order a birth certificate, see Ordering Vital Records below.

Delaware Death Records

In Delaware, only eligible persons can access death records as they are considered confidential. After 40 years, death records become public records. To request a death certificate, you must provide proof that you are one of the following individuals or parties:

  • Decedent’s children
  • Current spouse
  • Parent
  • Legal guardian
  • An authorized representative of the decedent
  • Those interested in genealogy.
  • Individuals or parties that can prove they have a direct, legitimate, and tangible interest in the death record (funeral homes or directors, insurance companies, hospitals, etc.)

To order a death certificate, see Ordering Vital Records below.

Delaware Adoption Records

Under Delaware state law, adoptees of at least 21 years of age or interested parties proving good cause can access non-certified copies of adoption records.

To request adoption records, see Ordering Vital Records below.

Ordering Vital Records

You can order vital records in several ways, including online, in-person, or by mail.

Order Birth, Death, or Marriage Certificates Online

You can request birth, death, and marriage certificates online through one of the following approved vendors:

  • VitalChek: VitalChek charges an additional fee for its services. The fee is $37.95 per certified copy of birth, death, or marriage. Divorce records are not available on VitalChek. You can find processing times on your order receipt or under the My Order page.
  • GoCertificates: Divorce records are not available on VitalChek. GoCertificates charges an additional fee for its services. Processing times depend on whether you choose expedited service or standard mail.

Order Birth, Marriage, Adoptee, Death, and Same-Gender Marriage In-Person or by Mail

To request individual copies of birth, marriage, adoptee, death, and same-gender marriage in-person or by mail, first complete the appropriate form:

You can request vital records in person at one of the three locations in Delaware. You will need to make an appointment with the office of your choosing:

  • New Castle County: 302-283-7130
  • Kent County: 302-744-4549
  • Sussex County: 302-856-5495

You can mail a written request with the appropriate form to the Office of Vital Statistics at the following address: Jesse S. Cooper Building, 417 Federal Street, Dover, DE 19901.

You will be required to show identification and proof of relationship. If you are an authorized representative making a legal request, you must use the OVS legal template, which must be on the official letterhead. You must also include why you are making the request and how you will use it.

Request Divorce or Annulment Decrees

Divorce and annulment decrees are considered confidential, and you must request them in person or by mail.

To request divorce annulment or decrees in person, visit the records department in the county where your annulment or divorce was granted. You will need to present a valid photo ID with your name and birthdate to the clerk. Credit cards, cash, money orders, or checks are accepted.

To request divorce or annulment decrees by mail, you will need to send a written request, with your name, birth date, and your notarized signature, to the records department in the county where your annulment or divorce was granted. Include a check or money order with your request (no cash or credit cards).

The fees for in-person and mail requests are the same:

  • Certified copy of your divorce or annulment decree: $4.00
  • A non-certified copy of your divorce or annulment decree: $1.00

If your record needs to be retrieved from the archives, an additional fee may be assessed.

Business Records

You can search for a Delaware entity free of charge online. Your search will provide you with the following information:

  • entity name
  • Formation date
  • Incorporation date
  • file number
  • registered agent name, address, phone number, and residency.

If you would like to order certified copies, plain copies, or certificates of status online, contact a Delaware online agent. There is a fee for online orders ($10.00 per entity for status or $20 per entity for a more comprehensive report). There is no charge for requests made in person (401 Federal Street, Dover DE).

Historical Records

The Delaware Public Archives serves as the central repository for local and state government records. The Archives contains over 95,000 cubic feet of historical and government documents, including vital statistics, land deeds, census data, military records, estate/probate records, tax assessments, genealogical related information, and more.

You can copy and scan thousands of different types of historical records in person; call 302-744-5000 or send an email to make an appointment. There are fees for copying historical records; however, they are based on actual cost. You are allowed to take photos using a smartphone if approved by the reference archivist.

You can also search through hundreds of historical records online via Delaware’s Digital Archives Collection.

Property Tax Records

You can search Delaware property tax information and payment data using the following links:

Driving Records

The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains driving records. According to the state law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can only access your driving record unless otherwise stated by law.

Requesting a Copy of Your Driving Record

You can request a copy of your driving record online, in person, or by mail:

  • Online: Visit the DMV website to login in or create a MyDMV account. You can obtain a copy of your driving record through your MyDMV account. Major credit or debit cards are accepted. You cannot request driving records online for CDL medical certifications.
  • In-Person: Visit any DMV office to obtain a 3, 5, or full driving record. The fee is $25.00.
  • By mail: Mail your completed and notarized Personal Information Release Form, a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and $25 check for a 3-year record to the DMV, Attn: Driver License Administration, PO Box 698, Dover, DE 19903.

What do I do if there is an error with my public records in Delaware?

If you would like to address what you believe is an error with a public record, you should contact the agency responsible for the specific record in question.

Background Hawk - Team

Background Hawk - Team

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