How to Obtain Court Records in Arkansas
The general rule for finding and requesting court records is first knowing which court heard the case. In Arkansas, misdemeanor issues such as traffic tickets, small claims, and civil lawsuits are handled in local and state district courts. More serious charges, violent crimes, and lawsuits concerning higher amounts of money, divorces, juvenile cases, and probate issues are handled by circuit courts. A court of appeals handles requests for reconsideration of circuit and district court decisions.
Requesting court records
The state offers digitized records from the following site: https://caseinfo.aoc.arkansas.gov/cconnect/PROD/public/ck_public_qry_main.cp_main_idx but it is an incomplete archive as several counties are excluded. Records are always available directly from the court where the case took place. The search results are likely to be a simple abstract of a case, including names, charges, and the judge or magistrate’s decision. This is a good place to start, as requesting more information will require the dates and docket or case number that may be obtained from this abstract record. If a transcript of all case activity is desired, that should be noted when a request for a full set of records is made. For complete records, contact the clerk at the court where the case was decided. In some cases, court records may be confidential, such as when it’s a juvenile proceeding, or portions may be unavailable due to privacy concerns for witnesses.
Federal court records
U.S. District Courts are the federal-level courts in each state, which handle some criminal cases, disputes between states, and class action lawsuits (because they represent people from more than one state). These courts also handle bankruptcy filings. To request records, contact the court where the case was decided (Eastern or Western district): http://www.are.uscourts.gov or http://www.arwd.uscourts.gov; you may also use the federal courts search engine: https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf.
Probate courts oversee the division of inheritances and transfer of inherited property. To access probate records, contact the clerk of the probate court where the property is located or where the resident lived. Some probate forms are located on this website https://courts.arkansas.gov/forms-and-publications/court-forms/probate-division/forms.
Other vital records
Birth, death, marriage, and some other vital records are made available through the VitalChek website here for a fee: https://www.vitalchek.com/divorce-records/arkansas/arkansas-vital-records. Divorce records may be obtained at the clerk’s office in the county where the divorce was granted or through the state office of Health and Human Services on this website: http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/order-divorce-records. A certified copy is often required to obtain a subsequent marriage license as well as for financial purposes (student financial aid, etc).