Although sometimes based upon a complaint by an individual, Criminal Proceedings are commenced by a person or entity, such as a prosecutor or district attorney with authority to do so. Individuals may not initiate criminal proceedings directly. A person wishing to make a complaint against someone else must consult an attorney, a law enforcement agency or the District Attorney's Office.
Closed criminal records resulting from felony charges filed within the New York State Supreme Court and Erie County Courts are located in the offices of the Erie County Clerk. Lesser charged matters will be filed in the lower courts. Federal, city and town proceedings are the responsibility of those government bodies, and records relating to those proceedings are not filed with the Erie County Clerk.
As a general rule, information in all criminal files is accessible to the public, although some documents or information contained therein will be redacted. Files are indexed by name and Indictment Number; when requesting a file by defendant name, a birth date is required. If a file is sealed by Court Order or New York law, the contents will be available only to the defendant and/or the attorney of record. A court order is required to unseal a record. Files are also sealed when the charges are dismissed or the defendant charged is acquitted.