Now that court records are available online and to the public, it would stand to reason that finding them would be simple. Unfortunately, that is not the case because there is not one centralized location for all the court records across the United States.
Thus, you need to visit individual county court or state court websites. When visiting state court websites you need to hope that the appropriate counties have relayed their information to the state.
PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records is a new system being introduced that has hopes to make all court records accessible to the public in one easy system. This, however, is still in the future.
Perhaps the hardest part of performing a court record search is to know where to begin your search. Many individuals are not even aware that counties have separate recording systems than states, and vice versa. Knowing where to begin the search can be confusing and overwhelming.
Any information you read will tell you to begin your court record search at the county court level. But, what if you don’t know what county to look in? In this case, you may have to begin your search at the state level.
Most county courts do pass along their court records to the state they are in. This is not always the case however, and the procedures for each state can vary. This is why sometimes a state court record search can be inaccurate.
What alternative do you have? If you have several possible counties, you can try looking at each county’s record individually. If you don’t even have a hint of a clue, then you may need to perform some additional research prior to beginning your court record search.