Organization of the State Courts
The first question one has to ask themselves before looking up criminal records is if the record was filed in the county, state, municipal or federal courts. Depending on the offense, the case is brought up in different courts in the legal system. Felonies usually show up in county courts, which are different than state courts. There are plenty of courts in the country, over 7,000, where people can gain access to criminal records. Individual states have different rules and regulations on which records they can allow the public to access and which they need to transfer to the FBI. There are four parts of the state court system: the Appellate courts, the Intermediate Appellate courts, the General Jurisdiction Trial courts, and the Limited Jurisdiction Trials courts. Each part has itís own special rules and policies. The Appellate and Intermediate courts primarily involve cases that are appealed by the court. The General Jurisdiction courts deal with felony and big civil cases. The Limited Jurisdiction courts are split in to two sections, ones that hear out small civic cases and others that deal with misdemeanor cases.
There are two ways the courts organize their data, by numbering the cases and by filling out docket sheets. Case numbers are used to keep track of all the different warrants including information about when they are filed and when they get issued. This system of organization is very easy to use and convenient for when you want to look up the information. To ensure a system is running smoothly, the different agencies in a state need to coordinate the numbers so that one agency isnít numbering cases different from another agency. Docket sheets organize information similar to a balance sheet in a company. They include information that dates back to when the case was filed all the way up until itís present day status. The docket sheet has information about the courts, including the name, location and the name of the judge, case information, including the number and name, as well as plaintiff, defendant and attorney information.
Courts of the 21st Century
In todayís world, everything revolves around computers and the Internet. This includes the United States judiciary branch. Now the courts are all in a technological age but before docket sheets were all written on paper and were filed in a cabinet. Today, courts store all their records on a computer, which saves a lot of space and is easier to access. Like anything else related to criminal records, some things are open to the public but there are some aspects that are classified and can only be accessed by people with special permission. If what youíre looking for is not available online, the courts give you two different options to consider. You could visit a state company with a database full of the information youíre looking for or you could access the courts microfilm versions of the cases, which are open to the public.