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California Court Records

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Registered Licenses is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). You understand and acknowledge that these reports are NOT “consumer reports” as defined by the FCRA. Your access and use of a report is subject to our Terms of Service and you expressly acknowledge that you are prohibited from using this service and this report to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or any other purpose regulated by the FCRA.

Are California Court Records Public?

Yes, according to the California Public Records Act, California court records are mostly public. However, some of these records may be restricted from public access when a law or court order makes the record confidential. Examples of confidential records include juvenile dependency records and juvenile delinquency records. Court records for these cases are not open to the general public. There are also certain cases where some documents in the case file are sealed from public access; an example is a fee waiver application.

No California court records are completely sealed from public view. Even when a record is restricted, certain persons will still be allowed access to it. These persons may include parties to the case and other authorized persons.

What Shows Up on a California Court Records Search

According to the California Rules of Court, California court records are generated in the course of judicial proceedings. These records provide an account of each court hearing and feature filings, hearings, judgments, and documents relevant to the case. A California court record search enables members of the public to obtain court-related information for personal or judicial purposes.

California court records search services are provided by the state of California through official custodians and government-owned repositories. These services allow users to access and review case information from state court systems, and they can be used for researching legal cases, determining the status of pending cases, or inquiring about an individual's history. Users can search court records by various criteria, including name, date of birth, case number, type of court record, and county location. The results can be filtered further by providing additional detailed search parameters. With a comprehensive view of available information, inquirers can quickly gather relevant data and make informed decisions about their research objectives.

How Do I Lookup Court Records in California?

Inquirers may either go to the court where the case was heard or mail a written request to the court to look up or retrieve court records in California. While the California courts maintain paper and electronic court records, they do not provide online access to official court records. At the courthouse, individuals can view court records for free using the courthouse computers, but any copy request or request for the court staff to search for records attracts a fee. For mail queries, the requester must pay research and copy fees to look up court records in California.

The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in California is to send request applications to the courthouses where the cases were filed. Requestors can access court records in any of these two ways:

  • Remote access: using California court records, public access service points, or personal computers
  • In-person request at the courthouse

California Court Records Public Access

Visit the website of the courthouse where the case was filed, and via the online services portal, click on the case information or case access portal to view court records. Input the required search criteria and hit the search button. The Find Your Court search portal on the California courts website provides access to all the state courts' websites and contact information. This enables requesters to gain remote access to electronic court records over the internet on their computers, smartphones, and tablets. This service usually attracts a nominal fee. Court records that can be accessed remotely include registers of actions (as defined in Gov. Code, § 69845), calendars, and indexes of all cases and all court records in civil cases, except the following:

  • Records of Family Court proceedings, including proceedings for legal separation, dissolution, and marriage nullity; child and spousal support proceedings; child custody proceedings; and domestic violence prevention proceedings;
  • Records in a civil harassment proceeding according to Code of Civil Procedure section 527.6;
  • Records in a juvenile court proceeding;
  • Records in a conservatorship or guardianship proceeding;
  • Records in a criminal proceeding;
  • Records in proceedings to settle the claims of a person with a disability or a minor;
  • Records in a workplace violence prevention proceeding per Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8;
  • Records in a private postsecondary school violence prevention proceeding per Code of Civil Procedure section 527.85;
  • Records in an elder or dependent adult abuse prevention proceeding according to Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.03; and
  • Records in a gun violence prevention proceeding according to Penal Code sections 18100-18205.

California Court Structure

How to Obtain California Court Records In-Person

Requestors can access paper and electronic court records at the courthouses where the cases of interest were filed. Each local court's website provides information on how to access its records and the fees that apply. The Find Your Court search portal on the California courts website provides access to all the state courts' websites and contact information. The following court records are available at the courthouse where the case was filed:

  • Divorce records,
  • Court case records (such as opinions, briefs, complaints, filings, etc.),
  • Traffic tickets and other traffic violations records,
  • Jury service information or assistance records,
  • Probate-related records, including estates, conservatorships, and wills
  • Name change records

How to Conduct a California Court Record Search by Name

To conduct a court record search by name, visit the website of the courthouse where the case was heard and utilize the online case management system provided. For cases heard in Los Angeles Superior court, for instance, inquirers may visit the online services section of their website, sign in to the case management system as a guest, returning user, or create a new account.

After signing in/up, the inquirer may enter the search criteria into the provided fields on the Search Page. This may be the Party Name, Case Number, or Date Filed. After submitting the query, results related to the criteria provided will be generated. For each search result, users will be provided the case number, party name, filing date and time, and pertinent details of the hearing.

How to Get California Court Records Online for Free

There are limited options for getting court records online for free. Notwithstanding, several courts allow inquirers to use their public access computers to conduct court record searches at no cost. This would require the inquirer to visit the courthouse where the case was heard. However, any additional services rendered by cost staff will come at a cost.

Other low-cost options for accessing court records online include; PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which charges a small fee per page viewed or downloaded, and third-party aggregate sites.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, court records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

Types of Courts in California

There are various California courts operational at the state, county, and municipal levels. The main types of courts in the state are the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, Superior Courts, Municipal Courts, and Small Claims Courts.

How to Request for Judicial Administrative Records in California

Interested persons can request copies of judicial administrative records that the Judicial Council of California (the Council) or Superior Courts of California maintain. These records comprise budget and expenditure records, vendor contracts, nonconfidential employee records, Judicial Council program factsheets, legislative reports, and written policies and procedures. Complete the Request Form and submit it to PAJAR, preferably via email, to as this ensures a faster response. It can also be submitted to the Public Access to Records Project by the U.S. Mail at:

Public Access to Judicial Administrative Records
Legal Services
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Regular requests will be attended to within ten days, but it may be extended by an additional 14 calendar days in certain situations. Generally, the information provided in response to court records requests facilitates the processing of the requests. Therefore, to avoid delays, make sure to provide specific, detailed, and accurate information, including contact information.

A request usually attracts a nominal fee for staff search, review time, duplication, and production. Additional charges will apply for commercial use requests. Requestors may be required to make payment before the records are duplicated or produced. The council or the court then reviews the request and ascertains whether the requested records can be produced or are exempt from disclosure under California Rules of Court rule 10.500. The timeframe for production will also be verified.

What Shows Up on California Judgment Records?

California judgment records contain details about a case and the court's decision or judgment. A judgment is the adjudicated rights or sentence imposed on litigants, as determined by the presiding judge based on state laws. In most cases, this judgment is final and shows the court's decision regarding a criminal or civil suit.

How Do I Find Out if I Have Any Judgments Against Me?

Judgment records in California are public records per the California Public Records Act. Interested persons may obtain copies of these documents in person by visiting the clerk's office in the court where the case was finalized. Alternatively, a requester may obtain digital copies of these court records remotely if the courthouse maintains online repositories of court records. Either way, the requester must possess the necessary details to facilitate a search for California judgment records. These include the case number, the litigants' names, and the year of judgment. In addition, the requester must prepare to pay the applicable court fees, which cover the administrative cost of searching and making copies of the judgment record sought.

The information contained in these documents varies with case type. Still, persons who obtain California judgment records can expect to see the litigants' names, the judge's name, and the judgment date. More importantly, the document will contain the specific claims of the parties involved and judgment.

California court records are typically created in chronological order, starting with a petition record in a civil suit and a complaint or indictment record in a criminal case. The litigants and court officials will create and submit various documents throughout the case. These documents eventually make up the case record. The judgment record is typically created at the end of a case.

Are California Bankruptcy Records Public?

California bankruptcy records provide information on bankruptcy cases filed at courts within the state. These records are accessible to the public. Interested parties can obtain copies of a record by placing a request to the clerk. Records may also be obtained using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. A case number, complete name, or a Social Security Number / ITIN are required to obtain the bankruptcy record.

Records of related judicial filings and proceedings, including records of California Liens, judgments, and foreclosures, may also be accessed by interested and eligible persons, provided the requester can provide relevant information to facilitate the search.

Looking Up California Court Case Records: Exemptions

While the general public can access California court case lookup services, requestors who are not parties to the records demanded may not have full remote access to some electronic records. Examples include divorce records, child custody records, civil harassment records, and criminal records. However, there are special situations where there is unusually high public interest in criminal cases. In such a case, a judge may permit remote access to the criminal electronic record, although this is not typical. Usually, requestors for such records would need to visit the courthouses where the cases were held.

The following persons can remotely access restricted electronic court records:

  • Parties to the case
  • Persons authorized by a party. However, this does not apply to confidential electronic records and electronic records of criminal, juvenile justice, or child welfare cases. The party to the case cannot authorize just anyone to access the electronic record, but the party's attorney will be allowed to access the electronic record.
  • Parties attorneys including paralegals, legal secretaries, interns, and other attorneys who may be assisting the attorneys with the case.
  • Court-appointed third parties
  • Legal Aid Staff
  • Government officials that need to view court records while performing their official duties. View rule 2.540 of the California Rules of Court to see a list of state and local government agencies and the types of electronic records their staff may remotely access.

How to Find a Court Docket in California

A California court docket is an official record of all the proceedings that take place in a court. It features information related to hearings, motions, orders, and judgments and details on the parties involved, their lawyers, and any witnesses. Dockets are usually maintained by a court clerk or other staff member and are available for public inspection at any time during business hours. They can be used to track future court dates and deadlines, which is especially important for individuals who are representing themselves in legal matters. Additionally, they can be helpful for researching previous cases involving similar issues or parties.

Civil vs Small Claims Courts in California: Understanding the Difference

Civil Court cases are made up of three categories, depending on how much money is in dispute. The categories include:

  • A limited civil case that involves $25,000 or less.
  • Unlimited civil cases involving over $25,000 or other types of disputes not involving money, such as cases requesting civil restraining orders, cases to resolve title to real property, and requests to change an individual's name or child's name. In essence, any case that is not a limited civil case under the definition Code of Civil Procedure sections 85 – 86.1 falls under the category of an unlimited civil case.
  • Small claims cases involving $10,000 or less. Businesses, excluding sole proprietors, cannot sue for more than $5,000 in California small claims courts. An individual cannot sue for more than $10,000 but can file as many claims as they want for up to $2,500 each. However, individuals can only file two claims in a calendar year for claims above $2,500.

In addition, an individual can only sue a guarantor for up to $6,500; if the guarantor does not charge for the guarantee, the individual can only sue for $2,500. Any entity other than a regular individual may file a claim for up to $4,000 if the guarantor charges for its services. However, individuals can sue the Contractors' Registrar, the Contractors State License Board's executive officer, as a guarantor for about $10,000. Examples of small claims include:

  • Damage to your property by a neighbor;
  • Property damage or personal injury from a car accident;
  • Landlord/tenant security deposits;
  • Collection of money owed;
  • Disputes with contractors about repairs or home improvement jobs;
  • Homeowner association disputes;

Note that collections agencies cannot sue in small claims court to collect on debts assigned to them. Civil Court and small claims cases are heard at the Superior Courts.

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