Court Records Search and Procedures
Court records are the proceedings to a particular case. Typically these court records are available and open for public view. There are exceptions though, juvenile cases and adoption cases could be sealed from public view.
In this guide, we will explain the court system process and how to find and view court records online from any state. This guide will allow anyone the chance to build a basic background on someone by accessing court dockets and records directly online using a first and last name. Locating these records will be done online or in person when available and within the courthouse. The clerk of courts is responsible for many aspects of court records so we will also explain the importance of contacting the clerk of courts in your area.
Court Records Process
A court consist of a governmental body that consists of at least one judge who will administer justice in accordance with the law. The room that this happens within is called the “Court Room” when speaking of background checks and more specifically court records you have two groups. Criminal records and civil court records.
We will talk more about these types of records further in our guide. Depending on what state your in will determine what court system the territory controls. Every state has the highest court of apples within that state. Below this level of courts would the court systems that would hear appeals from courts below this.
The court of appeals only hear appeals and nothing else. They are the appellate courts. Below this are the county courts or trial courts of general jurisdiction. These courts will hear probate, juvenile, small claims, family, and other types of court hearings.
Besides the state courts that we talked about above, there is also the federal court system below. It is compromised of the following:
United States Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the federal court system. It acts as a check and balance against the legislative and executive branches.
The Supreme court gets its power from the United States Constitution and is made up of nine justices appointed the President that is affirmed by Congress.
United States Courts of Appeal
The circuit courts or U.S. court of appeals will decide on appeals from the lower district courts that happen from its federal judicial circuits. This court system is very powerful in terms of overall cases it has precedent over. Considering the appeals court has final arbiter on most of the federal cases in the United States.
Total Civil Cases filed 2013 – 2017
United States District Courts
The United States District courts are the general trial courts that hear most of the criminal and civil cases within the U.S. The district courts were established by Congress and there is at least one judicial district for each state.
District court cases that are filed by year from 2013 to 2017.
Types of Courts
let us discuss the difference between civil cases vs criminal cases below so you can understand the differences.
Civil Court Cases
Civil court cases are the court-based procedures that a person (1) seeks to hold another person (2) liable for wrongdoings. If the person 1 wins it is usually awarded compensation.
An example would be a dispute over a broken lease or contract dispute.
Typically a civil suit is initiated by a private party or business who suffered damages. Unlike a criminal court case that is brought by a prosecutor that represents the government.
Court records related to civil matters could also include information like:
- Legal name changes
- Transfer of property ownership
- Divorce details
- Marriage details
Criminal Court Cases
Criminal court cases Like we said above these cases are brought by the government against a group or individual person.
Unlike civil cases, these court cases are for breaking the law. Sentences are handed down that would considered jail time or other disciplinary actions and not a compensation based outcome.
Court Records Contents
There can be a lot of content when it comes to court records. Depending on the specific case and whether it was civil or criminal in nature will also determine the contents. Below are some of the more common contents that can be included.
- Documents supporting the cause – Police offer must present probable cause.
- Official complaint
- Uniform arrest report
- Executed arrest warrant
- Summons and complaint
- Court exhibits
- Defendant’s competence to stand trial
- Notice of rights
- Written plea information
- Documents for programs such as plea agreements
- A final judgment, including jail time, probation or parole
How To Find Court Case Records?
Court case records have been electronically maintained since 1999 and are available through internet searches to the public. We will show you some of the best ways to find court records by searching online web properties.
You can find court records using the PACER court system online. You can also find all bankruptcy information via telephone. This is known as the Voice Case Information System. This is free use and available 24 hours a day.
There is a fee to find court records using this service. Electronic and paper court records can be viewed at the courthouse for free, but keep in mind there is a fee of 10 cents per page to print for there public access terminal.
Find Court Records at The County Clerk’s Office
Finding these records at the county clerk’s office can be done online or in person. We would recommend starting online first. If you know the county the court records would be at then you should search that county clerk’s office.
Once you access the website look for a record search section. Almost all county websites have an online search, however, smaller counties may not have this data digitally yet. If that is the case then you will need to visit the county clerk’s office and search for these records directly in person.
Utilize a Third-Party Search Service.
Find court records by using a search service that has access to federal, state, and county data.
U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts
Below are the United States of Courts of Appeals and District Courts boundaries.
6th Circuit Court of Appeals
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
8th Circuit Court of Appeals
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
10th Circuit Court of Appeals
11th Circuit Court of Appeals