How to Find Court Records for Free

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Learn How to Find Court Records

There is an official record of every case, from criminal cases to bankruptcy to divorce petition, that runs through the court system. Most of these records are considered public domain, unless the records pertain to juveniles or the records have been sealed or expunged by the courts. In fact, many of these records are available online, if you know where to look.

Search Court Records by Name for Free

Types of Court Records

The federal, state and local courts maintain a variety of court records, including:

  • Criminal court records
  • Summons and complaints
  • Arrest records
  • Civil court records
  • Family court records (such as marriage, divorce and custody)
  • Bankruptcy court records
  • Land deed records

What Information Is Available

Unless the judge has sealed the court record, such as with juvenile cases, domestic violence cases, adoption and some civil cases, all the files pertaining to the case are available to the public. This includes:

  • Names of all parties involved
  • Names of attorneys
  • Name of the judge
  • Case number
  • Court dates and location
  • Case files
  • Arrest warrant
  • Supporting documents
  • Final judgements

Personal information, such as social security numbers, are typically omitted from all court records.

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Reasons to Search for a Court Record

Attorneys and news reporters find court records on a regular basis. However, there are many different reasons why an average citizen might need to search for a court record, such as:

  • Criminal background check on anyone
  • Check up on a date or a neighbor
  • Check up on suspicious people
  • Filing a civil suit against another party
  • A civil suit was filed against you
  • Requesting case expungement
  • Getting remarried or divorced
  • Check for land ownership
  • Requesting a name change

How to Find Court Records Online

Before you begin to find court records online, you should gather as much information, such as names of individuals involved in the case or case number, county and state where court was held, and the type of court case requesting.

How you make an online request depends on which court the case went through.

Federal Court Records

All federal court records, including district court and bankruptcy courts, are available through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website. You must start by creating a user account. You will be asked to enter your credit card information. However, you are not required to do so in order to establish an account or use the PACER website. Once you set up an account, you can follow the easy prompt to request the specific court record you need. PACER charges a fee of $0.10 per page, or a maximum of $3 per record. You will be billed on a quarterly basis. If your quarterly bill is less than $15, then the fee is waived. If you do not have enough information to find the right court record, you can request a search, but it will cost $30 per search.

State Court Records

Most states offer an online portal for obtaining state court records. Depending on your specific state, you also may be able to locate county records on the state site. The type of information available online varies from state to state. You can find the link to your state’s various courts at the NCSC (National Center for State Courts) website. Look for the Court Records link on your state’s portal and follow the directions for requesting a court record.

County Court Records

The availability of online county court records varies from location to location. In some cases, you may be able to view basic information, such as names of all parties involved and final judgment online, but you will have to make a written or in-person request for more court specific information. Check out your county’s Clerk of Courts Office website to see what records are available in your area. If records are not available online, see section below.

Third-Party Online Vendors

We are a third party online vendor. We provide instant access to court records along with unlimited searches and reports from our member’s area. We also offer a free trial.

Search Court Records by Name for Free

Obtain Court Records In-Person

Due to the ease of ordering court records online, the federal court system has halted in-person requests. However, most public libraries offer free internet services, and in many cases, the library staff can help you make an online request through the PACER system.

Most state and local courts, however, do allow you to make a request to see or obtain a copy of a court record in person. Depending on your specific state, you may be able to simply stop by your local Clerk of Courts office and find court records in person. You must provide the Clerk of Courts with enough information about the case to make it easy to find. You can view the record right at the court’s office, but you will not be able to take it with you. However, you can request a copy of the entire record for a nominal fee per page. Most local offices also allow you to make this request in writing, but you will need to pay for the copies up front and provide a return envelope.

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21 responses to “How to Find Court Records for Free

    1. Hello Tyhesha,

      I understand your concern however we do not offer certified copies of divorce record papers. We offer online access to divorce records, marriage records and court records but they are not certified copies of the original. That being said, if you can give me the state and county you originally received your divorce papers from, I can research where to get certified divorce record copies from.

      Best Regards,

      The Search Quarry Team

  1. I’m trying to seek information on a man named Thomas weekly, I sued in 2005-2006, I was awarded judgment against this man it has been a little more than ten years for me to find where this man works as I was instructed to do to report it to the courts so they could get the money owed to me, I want to know what I need to do to bring this back out, he was told 10% each year it was not paid, can you help me out?

    1. Hello Daniel,

      We can certainly help you locate court records online however this is a legal matter that we cannot assist you with. You might consider contacting a lawyer for legal assistance. If you would like us to lookup court records for this person we can certainly assist you. We will need the full name, including middle name, state and county of residence and an address or approximate age. You can also find this information by contacting the county court clerk where the judgment was filed.

  2. pfliegen@yahoo.com. I’m looking for my father’s will, he left mineral rights to myself and siblings… How do I find out, And see paper work on it. His name is, Jerald Delbert David. Died in 1980 to 1982 not sure.

    1. Peggy,

      We can help locate your father’s death record online but we do not have the ability to lookup his last will and testament. If you provide us with his state and county of residency we can track down his information and assist you with finding the appropriate agency to help assist you with this matter.

      How To Find Last Will and Testament of Deceased

      1). Find out what state and county the executor filed the will
      2). Visit the probate court where the last will was filed
      3). Contact the court clerk about your father. You will need to show identification
      4). Review archived wills if available

  3. Is there a way to get a copy of a 21 page brief written by Seth Waxman for several companies including Apple, Inc., AMici, Cisco Systems, Inc, Facebook, Ins., Google, Inc., and so forth? My husband needs some of the information for his Federal Appeal he is working on. He has been trying to get out for 6 years and the brief may help.

    Thanks,

    1. Unfortunately we don’t have that type of information in our court records database. If you can provide us with additional information as to what type of brief you’re inquiring about we can certainly research this and try and assist you as best we can. Additionally our court record resources are for reference only and cannot be used in a court of law for legal purposes. That being said we can point you in right direction if you can elaborate some more on the court records briefing you’re interested in.

  4. If I am seeking record(s) for my great grandfather’s name change once he immigrated to America, how can I do so Is that something I can do on this website? Please advise. I know that it was likely sometime between 1915-1935 but if I had to I could expand the years.
    I need his original surname because I can not trace my heritage without the surname he was born with.

    Thank you for your time and assistance pertaining to this matter,

    1. The public records that you are looking for are immigration records and is not a public record offered by our service. Your best bet to locate these immigration records is to visit the Archives.gov website. They are a government that archives most all American immigration records from the time frame you are looking for.

      How To Find Immigration Records

      1. Visit the National Archives website
      2. Select Immigration Records research
      3. Lookup immigration records by micro-film
      4. You can also visit the National Archives in Person

  5. I need to find out how to file a civil action suit in the Athens-County State Court against insurance companies and attorneys. The parties are based in Atlanta, Ga.
    but the incident occurred in Athens, Ga. I need to make sure of the jurisdiction before I file it. Can anyone help me?

    1. You will want to visit the Alabama Judicial System website and use the AlaFile Court Case Search Portal.

      Find an Alabama Case Number

      1. Visit the Alabama Judicial System website
      2. Register with the AlaFile Court Case Search
      3. Once registered search for court documents by name
      4. Enter as much information as available
      5. Find the Alabama Court Case Number

    1. The punishments for misuse of social media can vary dramatically. If someone is harassing you via social media then they are susceptible to the same punishments as harassment in other walks of life. If someone is stalking you then it’s considered stalking just as though someone was doing it outside of social media. The only caveat to the punishment of these crimes is it’s sometimes difficult to track someone down or find out who the culprit is. If you feel that you’re the victim of a crime via social media then your best course of action is to contact the police and file a police report. Many police departments and courthouses have a cyber-crime division that will help you to navigate through the options to handling a crime via social media.

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Author: SQAdmin
Last Updated: December 16, 2017

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