The court system in America is made up of individual courts within separate counties in each state. Thus, court records are either state records, or county records. America does not have one central system, location, or database that compiles all the court records from every county in every state.
Knowing the background of how our court record system works is helpful if you find yourself in need of performing a court record search. While you may have initial disappointment that there is no one database you can turn to, enter your information, and hit “search”; you shouldn’t feel hopeless.
The truth is that if you know where to look your search for court records will be much easier. It is a good idea to always begin a court record search in the county where the person lives or was tried. This is because county court records are always verified by an individual. A court employee checks all records. State court records have different reporting methods so a state search may return incorrect results.
Not all states require every county of the state to submit their court records to them. Thus, the state court records will not have a full compilation of the county court records. This can be a major problem if you only know what state you need to perform a search in, not which county as well.
It is best to perform some further research and gain the name of several counties that the person may have been tried in. Obviously, the more narrow your search the less time you can usually find the court record in. The less information you have to start with will mean a more time consuming search as you may end up searching multiple counties.
Having these insider hints at your disposal will make a court record search easier to perform. You can start at the right starting point and hopefully find what you are looking for.