How to Obtain Court Records?
There are many reasons why a court document may be important to have on hand: to show that a fine was paid or sentence served, to get a court order for eviction or protection enforced, to claim an inheritance, or to file an appeal.
Obtaining court records
Most court documents and transcripts are public record, with the exception of any confidential information that may be included, such as medical records, juvenile cases, and names of some crime victims. These documents can be traced using case numbers or names of those involved, but not every state has searchable databases online.
Understanding the judicial structure in your state is helpful to finding the documents you seek or the process of appeals and subsequent decisions. When seeking court documents contact the clerk of the court where the case was heard.
Types of records
When individuals or organizations appear in court they are likely to submit evidentiary documents to the judge to support their claims. These documents may be accessible through court records, or their contents referenced in a transcript of the case.
Transcripts of a case can be requested through the clerk’s office. These records detail the progression of a case from the beginning through the judge’s decision.
Court orders are a judge’s direction to an individual or group telling them to start or stop a specific action.
Probate records are those documents that relate to wills and estates, guardianships, and often mental health commitments. These can include lists of property and possessions, heirs, and trusts. Guardianship and mental health cases may include confidential medical information that a clerk may not release.
Juvenile records are generally kept confidential due to the age of the person involved unless the juvenile is tried as an adult for a felony crime.
Civil records are lawsuits between two parties, such as for breach of contract, for reimbursement, or to settle disputes.
Criminal records are when a person or group is accused by the police or a county prosecutor of breaking the law.
A fee is often required to request an official court transcript or document resulting from a case. Many clerks’ offices will require a form to be filled out and mailed as an official request.
How to Obtain Court Records in Your State?
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia