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Infomation Found in Circuit Court Records

Each U.S. state has its own judiciary system, and courts which exercise local or general jurisdiction over serious civil and criminal matters are sometimes called “circuit courts.” Other states may call this same level of courts a superior court, district court or court of common pleas. Depending upon the case records you’re searching for and the judicial system of the corresponding state, these may or may not be held with your local circuit court.

Where to Find Your Records

First, it’s best to begin with a general search through a public search engine to discover where any records you may be interested in are held. You may also want to visit your state judiciary website to learn which court may hold your records.

Generally, circuit court records are held with the corresponding Court Clerk’s office and can be found in person by visiting the office yourself. You may need to look up the correct file number in an index that lists all records held there by date and alphabetized parties.

Information Needed to Access Circuit Court Records

Every circuit court will require and provide different types of information to the public. Generally, the more information you have the better your search results will be. At the bare minimum, you should have the first and last name of either the plaintiff or defendant—basically, the person you want to find more information about. If you have their birth date, this is even better; this way, you can discern between parties that could have the same name.

Often, circuit courts are general jurisdiction courts, so knowing the specific county where the case was filed will ensure you find the correct record. If you have the case number, this will give you the specific records you’re searching for no matter what other information you have or may be missing. 

Information Found in Circuit Court Records

Usually, very personal information such as Social Security numbers or information about any minors involved in a case have been redacted from the record. However, even the general public can learn the party information, charges and pleas entered, any judgments or rulings, and a chronological list of hearings and events that took place in the case.

Additional information will depend upon the type of case you’re looking at. Each state designates certain cases to be presided over by its circuit courts. This may include tort or small claims, probate and estate cases, civil and criminal appeals from lower courts, traffic cases, juvenile cases, and traffic violations. For example, a criminal case may involve charges that are classified as either felony or misdemeanors, and you will also know of any incarcerations the defendant was ordered to serve. Civil cases will normally include the dollar amount of any award sought and given, and property or probate cases may include descriptions of the property or holdings at argument.

Regardless of your reasons for wanting any type of court records, you first need to ensure you’re searching in the correct place. Determine the court structure for your state and local governments, and decide where you need to go in order to access the proper circuit court records you seek; finally, you can gather the correct information and request your copies.



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