Superior court records can be viewed by the public in various different ways, although some exceptions may apply in certain cases. The federal and state court system can be very confusing to those searching for more information on family and friends, but you’d be surprised at what you can find when looking in the right place.
When the Freedom of Information Act was signed into law over half a century ago, it effectively required the federal government and its agencies to release any documents stored in their database to anyone requesting them. There are exceptions for some of the most serious and confidential documents, as well as anything that could pose a threat to national security.
Still, the amount of superior court records available can be overwhelming -- especially since most of the state governments and courts around the country have adopted similar laws. In an attempt to promote transparency and openness across the United States, public superior court records have certainly achieved that.
The superior court, also referred to as “trial courts,” are general jurisdiction courts found in states across the United States. As the name implies, you might be wondering what they are “superior” to exactly.
Being a general jurisdiction court, superior courts have the power to decide over any criminal or civil case. Other state courts have limited jurisdiction -- these are who the superior courts are “superior” over. For this reason, superior courts can also hear and decide on appeals through the lower courts.
Over the past few decades, states like California have unified their court systems in a way that effectively eliminated any superiority over other courts. They still use the term as tradition, but the lower courts were all dissolved into the superior courts.
Still, superior court records are required to be documented, filed, and maintained by the courts that hear the case. This can include a variety of different criminal and civil cases -- as well as appeals from other courts.
When you hear the term criminal records, it could pertain to a wide range of different crimes -- both major and minor. Since superior court records have jurisdiction over any criminal case, the possibilities are endless as far as what you might find.
Criminal records won’t detail any arrests that didn’t lead to a court case, but they can include any case that was brought to trial. This can include a misdemeanor offense, traffic violations, and felonies for more serious crimes. If you believe someone you know has committed a crime and are too scared to ask them, superior court records can help link you to that information.
Not to forget, misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions pretty much cover every crime you can think of -- theft, DUI, DWI, murder, rape, fraud, speeding, driving without a seatbelt. People can only hide so many details before superior court records tell the truth for them.
On the other hand, superior court records can handle any civil case that gets presented to them. A majority of civil cases are between two people or businesses, one of which is claiming to have been treated wrongfully by the other party. Normally, this will involve money with the accuser seeking financial relief for the troubles.
Since a trial will almost always become a costly way to resolve things, many parties will find a compromise during the process to avoid any further court and lawyer expenses. Still, the courts are asked to decide on a large amount of cases every year, using facts to determine the legal penalty.
In terms of what cases these can involve, superior court records might contain disputes between a landlord and tenant, employee and employer, restraining orders, breaches of contract, or any other wrongful act that won’t fall into one of those categories.
There will be a lot of cases that will get presented to a “lower” court instead of a superior court. When a decision is made in those other courts, the losing party might want to appeal the decision and bring the case to a higher court.
Again, these can include both criminal and civil cases that are tried at the city or county level. If an appeal is being requested, it will then make its way to the superior court. Although you might have to trace your steps back to the original court to get that specific information, superior court records will maintain their own records on the case.
Superior court records can be viewed by anyone willing to search and request the information. There will be several federal and state laws that will protect your information in certain situations, like employee and lending background checks. The information will almost always be available to the public, though.
Older methods would require a trip to the actual court to request the information, which is great if you know what court decided on the case. Then the online databases became an essential way of storing and releasing these documents. Now-a-days, technology can gather information from all of these databases around the web and pull them into a single report.
Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think and will only take minutes.
We have all the resources and tools you’ll need to start your superior court records search. First, you’ll need someone to search for -- try searching for yourself to get the hang of things. Type in your first and last name into the respective boxes in the search engine below. Then, enter the current city and state that you live in. That’s it!
Once you click the search button, it will give you multiple matches to the information you entered. Find your report, open it, and view all of the information inside.
In the event you’re searching for someone else and you don’t know their full last name, entering just the first initial will give you a good start to the search. You might have to do some further digging through matches, but they’ll be there somewhere. Likewise, the city and state won’t be required -- though it’s highly recommended to include it when known.
Below you fill find the Top Public Records sites according to our rankings. Read the reviews before you search.
TruthFinder offers comprehensive public records, easy-to-understand reports, and tools to help you protect your personal information from identity thieves.
BeenVerified was our second pick as it provides the widest array of public records.
Instant Checkmate is one of the longest-running online background check services and still one of the most popular. They offer comprehensive records on millions of Americans.