North Carolina Court Records

North Carolina court records

North Carolina court records are readily available for public searching online without the time and energy spent locating documents in person at the local law library or courthouse. Court records are obtained for a number of reasons by the public and law professionals alike. Often prior cases are used to provide a basis for a new case; court records can be used for educational purposes, to locate vital records, and are even useful for genealogists studying the history of a family.

In the state of North Carolina court records are generated by four types of courts. The highest court is the Supreme Court, followed by the Court of Appeals, lastly District and Superior Courts.

History of North Carolina Court Records

The Supreme Court of the state has been housed in several different locations since its foundation in the State Capitol building in Raleigh in 1819. Sadly, the building was destroyed by a fire and many of the court records with it in 1831. Several new locations were used to hold court proceedings including a Presbyterian church, and a few buildings in Raleigh’s Union Square, but in 1940 a new Justice Building was erected and is where the Supreme Court remains to this day.

North Carolina Court Records Availability

The Supreme Court records are for appeals from lower courts, interpretive cases of the state and federal Constitutions and those where consideration is taken if there was an error at trial. North Carolina’s Court of Appeals is an intermediate appellate court and presides over civil and criminal cases with the exception of capital murder cases which would be turned over to the Superior Court if there was a judgment imposing the death penalty.

District Courts have court records from civil hearings such as divorce, custody and child support, and criminal cases for misdemeanors and infractions, as well as juvenile and magistrate (small claims) records.

Main Court Information

The North Carolina Supreme Court is the highest court of the land, is located in the state’s capital Raleigh and is composed of Chief Justice and six associate justices, each serving eight-year terms. The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court, with fifteen justices hearing cases in panels of three. In addition to the civil and criminal cases the Court of Appeals hears from lower District Courts, certain direct appeals from North Carolina’s administrative agencies are heard as well.

District Courts, or trial courts, are in several locations all across the state and are divided into four categories: criminal, civil, magistrate, and juvenile. Superior Courts also hear trials, most often for criminal cases with a jury of 12 peers. In each County Seat of North Carolina’s 100 counties, there resides a Superior Court.

Caseload Statistics

In 2014 there were 730 filings for the North Carolina Supreme Court, of those 704 were issued dispositions. The following calendar year the Court of Appeals saw 1,417 appeals, 895 petitions, and filed 3,608 motions.