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County courthouses contain a wealth of information and valuable data about individuals as well as businesses. A visit to the county clerk’s office is one way of obtaining court records as well as other related information.
Some counties offer free online access to their records but not all do. In these cases you can request the information and pay a small fee for the court records or documents requested.
You could hire a private investigator to obtain the court records you need. Oftentimes, private investigators use software to access databases of public records and can get the information you need in a matter of minutes. But they will charge you quite a bit for the service.
Another option of obtaining court records is to use one of the many public record directories on the internet that offer instant background checks or to subscribe to an information database that offers access to public records including court records for do-it-yourself searches.
Courthouses generally maintain an “Index to Records” which gives information about the plaintiff and the defendant and reveals the outcome of the action. The Index to Records shows where to find complete records on: civil actions, criminal actions, probate actions, IRS disputes, liens, UCC filings, assumed names and aliases, and final judgments.
Because county records are often forwarded to the state capitol for storage, a visit to the county courthouse to view the Index to Records will give you the information on where to find the complete documents.
Within the county courthouse are numerous types of court records such as records of county, circuit, civil and criminal litigation.
A Civil Index lists all civil actions and includes date, names of the plaintiff and the defendant, judgment, liens, and a case number.
County Civil Records are court records involving actions that are under $1500. These records list the names of the plaintiff and defendant, judgment, liens and other information about the outcome of the litigation.
District and Circuit Court Records are of actions that are over $1500 and list similar information.
The Criminal Index is an index of all criminal convictions in a specified time period. It contains information about on going cases including a file number which is useful when searching the criminal records.
County Criminal Records contain information about county misdemeanor cases.
District and Circuit Criminal Records contain information about felony cases.
Criminal records contain more information about individuals than most other public records. Most states make criminal records available to the public.
A Traffic Records Index lists all traffic tickets within the county including parking violations.
In addition, the Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains records on births, marriages, divorces and deaths. To obtain records such as these a visit to the county recorder may be required. Because all counties have their own policies and fees, a quick phone call or website visit to find out what’s required will save you time and aggravation. For example, some county recorders require you come in and search the records personally; others will perform the search on your behalf but will need specific information and will charge a fee.
Even though divorce records are officially court records, they are kept in the county recorder’s office. These records are usually kept in the Index of Divorce Records alongside other vital statistics records.
Searching for court records can be a do-it-yourself job. Start by searching our vast databases and then if needed, visit your state and county courthouse While some court records may be available online, you may need to visit the courthouse, County Clerk’s office or the County Recorder in person to find what you need.
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