How to Obtain Court Records in Delaware
The state of Delaware has multiple layers of courts. At the lowest rung in the court system are the Alderman’s and Justice of the Peace courts, which handle some misdemeanors, traffic citations, and minor civil disputes with financial stakes under $15,000. At the next step are the Courts of Common Pleas, which are responsible for more significant civil disputes (small claims) that represent less than $50,000 in value, and appeals of Justice of the Peace misdemeanor criminal court decisions. At the same level as the Court of Common Pleas are family courts that handle juvenile matters, family matters such as divorces, and some misdemeanor issues.
The state’s superior courts hold jury trials to handle all felony charges, some civil issues such as contract disputes, property issues, and appeals of lower court rulings. Chancery courts, which do not hold trials, handle civil matters, probate, and business law. At the top rung of the court system is the state supreme court which hears appeals from lower courts both by right (such as death penalty) and by permission/petition.
Obtaining court records
Maintaining copies of personal records is important, particularly court records that pertain to your status as a parolee, if you were absolved in a particular situation, or perhaps if your identity was compromised and a court hearing was held to establish your innocence.
Some court records contain confidential information and cannot be provided to the public. These records include juvenile court proceedings and cases where a crime victim cannot be named, such as in a rape or domestic violence situation. Other records can be sealed or expunged, and the court does not provide copies of those cases except to law enforcement officials.
Despite the complexity of the state’s court system, their records retrieval is simplified. Use the following page to request records and transcripts from the court where the case was held: https://courts.delaware.gov/help/transcripts.aspx.
Civil cases may be searched online by name. These records reveal information about lawsuits over financial issues, not crimes per se. To search a civil case, see this page: https://courtconnect.courts.delaware.gov/.
To get a copy of a divorce decree, you must appear in person with positive identification as these records are not available to the public. For more information on divorce decrees, see the instructions here: https://courts.delaware.gov/family/divorce/decree_copies.aspx.
State courts do not oversee bankruptcy filings. To get records of a bankruptcy in Delaware you must access records from the U.S. District court in that district. The Pacer system allows searches of federal district court records: https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf.