Alabama Court Records Search
The Alabama court records refer to information and legal papers about court cases held in Alabama. These documents may contain various data, including information from civil lawsuits, traffic offenses, wills, or criminal offenses. Court records are produced in compliance with the Alabama general court rules and are preserved per the maintenance and retention schedule established by the Alabama court where the documents were first created.
In Alabama, court records services provide a valuable resource for individuals seeking information on legal cases and proceedings in the state. A court record search offers inquirers a means to access and examine case data generated by state courts. Court record searches are relevant when investigating legal cases, finding out the status of still outstanding cases, or seeking to learn more about a person's criminal history.
Are Alabama Court Records Public?
Yes, Alabama court records are public. The Open Records Act establishes citizens' rights to inspect and receive copies of public records of the state. All these records are available to citizens unless otherwise expressly made confidential by a state statute. Consequently, records created in Alabama Courts are subject to this law, and most court records are available to the public. Exceptions to this include court records filed under seal and juvenile court records.
Alabama Freedom of Information laws also include the Open Meetings Act. It governs how public meetings are held and ensures that governmental bodies' deliberative processes are open to the public during meetings.
The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws that guarantee the general public access to the records of all levels of government in the state. It was initially enacted as part of the Alabama Code of 1923 and has been amended several times over the years, most recently in 2004.
How Do I Find Court Records in Alabama?
To obtain court records in Alabama, contact the courthouse where the case was heard and the records were generated. After identifying the appropriate court, contact the court's record custodian, typically the Clerk of the Court and deliver a written request to the office. The request must include pertinent details to facilitate the search and retrieval of that particular record, such as the defendant's name, case number, and date. Obtaining a court record in Alabama typically involves a fee that must be paid before the record is released. The fee may vary for different courts and counties.
Alabama Court Records Public Access
Some court record custodians offer remote access to these records and in Alabama, inquirers may locate Alabama Trial Court Records online via the Alabama Court Access portal. Fees are charged for the available services based on the search requirements.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public 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.
How to Conduct an Alabama Court Record Search by Name
A court record search by name in Alabama can be performed using the portal maintained by the Alabama administrative office of courts. This database contains information on case records from any trial court in Alabama. To perform a search, users can create an account and search using the first or last names of any persons connected with the case of interest or perform a search by using a business name.
Court records can be searched by name in Alabama by visiting online portals maintained by the court county clerk in the court where a case proceeding occurs. For instance, persons can search for court records maintained by Maddison county circuit court clerk in Alabama using the first or last name of a person of interest.
How to Get Court Records Online for Free
To get court records for free in Alabama, interested persons can navigate to any online portal maintained by a County court clerk's office in Alabama; most county clerks' offices maintain online searchable databases from probate courts that can be searched for free. For instance, Baldwin County in Alabama maintains an online database of probate court records that can be searched for free. However, it is essential to note that these records are not official court records. Official court records can only be obtained directly from the clerk's office for a small fee.
Types of Courts in Alabama
The Alabama judiciary is divided into four general levels. Trial courts with general jurisdiction include the Circuit Court, the Court of Civil Appeals, and the Court of Criminal Appeals. Alabama Supreme Court, which also serves as the state's final appellate court. The Probate Court, the District Court, and the Municipal Court are other Smaller Alabama judiciary courts with restricted authority.
Traffic infractions, felonies, and violations of local ordinances fall under the purview of municipal courts. The district court handles civil matters ranging from $3000 up to $10,000, misdemeanors, small claims, and criminal cases with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. The circuit courts handle similar cases as the district court but also have jurisdiction to handle domestic relations cases, felony criminal cases, and civil cases above $10000.The court of civil appeals and court of criminal appeals are the second-highest courts in Alabama and review all lower court decisions. The Alabama Supreme Court is the highest in the state and has the power to review judgments rendered by lesser courts. The Supreme Court also hears appeals from the circuit court directly.
What are Alabama Judgment Records?
Judgment records in Alabama are court records that show the court's final decision in a criminal or civil case. Court clerks create judgment records after the presiding judge makes and declares this decision in court. Generally, these documents exist for cases considered closed or adjudicated by the court. The creation of the judgment record also makes it a public document open for public perusal per the Alabama Public Records Law.
To obtain Alabama judgment records, a requester must visit the Clerk's office in person during regular business hours. The individual must provide the administrative staff with the case information needed to find and retrieve the case file from court archives. These details include the case number, litigants' names, and the judge's name, if known. The case number will suffice for most searches. Other details help narrow down the search faster.
Meanwhile, when the court administration retrieves the record of interest, the individual may choose to copy the entire case file or specific records. Either way, the court typically charges administrative fees for searching, copying, and certifying the court documents obtained. Cash, money order, certified check, and credit cards are acceptable payment methods for in-person requests. Another way to obtain Alabama judgment records is to use the on-demand service portal for Alabama court records. This service also attracts fees, which the requester must pay before accessing the court records of interest.
Persons who obtain Alabama judgment records can expect to see the litigants' names, the judge's name, and the judgment date. Also, judgment records contain a brief description of the matter and the court's decision.
What are Alabama Bankruptcy Records?
Alabama bankruptcy records are documents generated and maintained by U.S. bankruptcy courts within the state. TITLE 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code governs the processes for filing for bankruptcy. Residents of Alabama may file for bankruptcy at any one of three federal bankruptcy courts: the Northern, Middle, or Southern District Court. The three main chapters of bankruptcy legislation that people and companies most often utilize are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.
Interested members of the public may access bankruptcy records and related documents, including Alabama Liens, mortgages, title deeds, and contracts, by querying the Clerk of courts in the courthouse where the original document was filed.
How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Alabama
Yes, bankruptcy records are generally public in Alabama, as they are in most U.S. states per Title 11 U.S.C. § 107 (2018). Bankruptcy filings are typically processed in federal courts, and the records related to these cases are usually available to the public for open examination. In Alabama, interested parties can access bankruptcy records by contacting the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System, which is available around the clock, at (866) 222-8029, or by using PACER, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Anyone can obtain bankruptcy court records using any of the aforementioned techniques from anywhere in Alabama. By contacting the Clerk of any of Alabama's four bankruptcy courts, individuals can access documents only available at particular court sites. To access the bankruptcy case locator system, requestors will need the court district's name and the debtor's name, bankruptcy case number, or Social Security number.
On PACER, access to case information is $0.10 per page. A single document can be accessed for a maximum of $3.00, which is 30 pages. Name searches, reports that are not case-specific, and transcripts of federal court proceedings are exempt from the cap. Informational court records must be authenticated before being utilized for official functions or as proof in court. Hence, before the record is released, the reason for the request must be made clear. The requesting party must pay extra fees for certification and/or notarization as part of the authentication process.
Alabama Court Case Lookup Exemptions
While most court records are made available to the public under the Alabama public records act, Alabama law expressly exempts certain records from public access by any online look-up or public information request. Some records impacted by Alabama court case lookup exemptions include:
- Adoption records
- Mental health institutions-related court records
- Trade secrets in civil cases
- Domestic violence court records
- Juvenile court records
- Special ongoing court proceedings
In Alabama public court records, if sensitive material must be included, sensitive personal data identifiers are typically partially redacted from the pleading, whether filed traditionally (on paper) or electronically.
What is a Court Docket in Alabama?
An Alabama court docket is a document filed by a court or parties in a court proceeding. In a court docket, which serves as a formal record of the court's actions, the judge or court clerk summarizes all the files and proceedings in a case. Every case has a distinct docket number that researchers can use to locate details like the participants' names, the dates of their court appearances, and an overview of the allegations or charges. Researchers use an Alabama court docket to find information about a court case, the parties involved, the claims or charges, and the judgment reached. Court dockets are held and maintained by the county court clerk's office in any county in Alabama. Interested persons can search Alabama court dockets online by using any of the full names of any party in the case.
What are Civil and Small Claims Courts in Alabama?
Civil Courts refer to the courts where civil cases are deliberated and judged. Typically, these are either District Courts or Circuit Courts. Civil cases in which the disputed amounts range between $3,000 and $10,000 (exclusive of costs and fees) are heard in District Court. Civil cases over $10,000 (exclusive of costs and fees) are heard in Circuit Court.
Alabama Small Claims Courts resolve legal disputes where the disputed amount is less than $3,000. Small claims court is part of the District Court for all intents and purposes, though the laws governing small claims differ from regular court rules. Defendants can represent themselves in this court.