Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roadblocks to finding Court Records

If you are attempting to find a court record you may stumble across several roadblocks along the way. Knowing what these roadblocks are before you even begin your search may be vital to you finding success in your search.

Roadblock #1 – Where to Search
The first roadblock you may encounter when performing a court record search is where to even begin your search. Court records are kept in the individual county where the proceedings took place. State records may have a copy of the court record, but it varies by each state according to their reporting procedures.

Roadblock #2 – What Court to Search
Different proceedings are tried in different courts. For example, you will not find a civil court record in a criminal court records archives, and vice versa. It is helpful to know what proceedings you are looking for and what court they would have been tried in according to that particular state and county.

Roadblock #3 – Sealed Records
You should be prepared that some records are sealed. This is often the case with domestic cases or cases that involve minority children. If a case was tried in a Family Court, the court records may be off-limits to you. In the event of a sealed court record, you may not have any alternative to uncovering them.

Roadblock #4 – Statute of Limitations
In many cases court records are only searchable for as long as the statute of limitations. If this time limit is past, you may have an unsuccessful search. It is possible for a current inmate to come up blank on a court record search due to the statute of limitations.

Roadblock #5 – Pay Up
Regardless if you find the court records you are looking for or your search comes up blank, you will still have to pay to perform the search. This can make an exhaustive search cost-prohibitive. It also makes conducting as much research as possible prior to beginning your search so you can perform a narrower search more important.

If you can expect and overcome these roadblocks, your chances of success for a court records search will greatly improve.

Photo: Suat Eman

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