County court records can reveal surprising information about someone. Background check websites might check federal and state databases, but they may not check county records.
County courthouses contain plenty of background information. If you were arrested in that county, for example, then you might have a record in that county – even if your record in your home county seems clean.
County records can also contain marriage and divorce certificates, speeding tickets, parking tickets, dropped charges, and more.
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about county courthouses, including how to request county court information, how much it costs, and what you’ll learn.
Some States Have State Databases, While Others Have County Databases
Why do you need to check county databases? Isn’t this information held in federal or state databases?
Some states collect all statewide information into one convenient database. You can request information at a state level about any individual within that state.
Other states, however, separate it by county. You must request individual records by county. You cannot perform a statewide search. You must search records county-by-county. Or, if you know the county where someone lived or was convicted, then you can narrow your search to that county.
County or state databases may include the following information:
- Civil and family case information
- Traffic case information
- Criminal case information
Case Information May Not Be Available Online
You may think Google gives you all the information you need about someone, but that’s not the case. Instead, most states and counties do not openly publish case information online. You need to request information specific to each case or individual.
This information is stored in private databases. It’s available upon request, but it’s not openly available for anyone to access via the internet.
How to Request Information from County Courthouses
Each county courthouse has a specific information request process. This process varies between courthouses, although there are certain similarities at most major courthouses in the United States.
Things to know before requesting information from a county courthouse:
- Some county courthouses publish certain information online for free. A county courthouse might not publish criminal convictions online, for example, but they might publish traffic and local ordinance cases or family case information online.
- Many county courthouses require you to visit the courthouse in-person – or request information by mail.
- You should be able to request to view information online (via a database portal or platform) or have it delivered via other means. Some courthouses still use CDs to share data, for example, while others print paper copies of information you request.
- If requesting information about a specific case, you may need to provide the case number, case name, and the title of the documents requested.
How Much Does It Cost?
County courthouse pricing varies. Typically, you pay a nominal fee to access county records.
Fees vary depending on the medium you are requesting. You may need to pay $0.50 per page, for example, or $5 per CD.
Expect to pay a higher fee for each certified document. A certified document contains information verified by the courthouse. You may have to pay a $40 certification fee for a certified document, for example, plus $0.50 for each page within the document.
Most courthouses also charge for more detailed searches. If your search lasts longer than 10 minutes, for example, then you might have to pay a $15 fee.
How to Request State Court Information
County courthouses can reveal crucial information about someone. However, you may want to start your search at the state level before narrowing it by county.
State courthouses have different rules and requirements. Certain state court information is public record, while other information is private. Some information is openly available online, while other information is only available by request.
Typically, the opinions of the state’s Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal are public record, whether published or unpublished.
You may also be able to search case information via an online form.
The California state court system, for example, allows you to search case information online through courts.ca.gov. You can search the system for an opinion, for example, or other information in a specific case.
Use a Background Check Service to Simplify County Court Record Searches
County court record searches can be complicated. Rules and fees vary between courts.
Instead of individually requesting information from each state and county, consider investing in an online background check. A good online background check costs money – but it can reveal specific information about someone.
Just enter someone’s name into an online form, then let the site do the hard work for you. Instead of individually requesting info from each court – and paying each fee – you can pay one fee and let the professionals do the hard work.