In any legal case, the court will keep detailed and accurate records pertaining to the case. These are called “court records”, or the “case file.” In a criminal case, the court record might contain information such as the names of the victim(s), names of defendants, the types of charges, and sentencing information.
The term “court record” is not same thing as a “criminal record.” A criminal record is a list of all the different convictions that one person has. Court records on the other hand, are a general database of all the cases filed in a particular courthouse or county.
What Do Court Records Contain?
Court records may contain:
- Docket sheet for the case
- Various documents and files associated with the case
- Statements, transcripts, and other criminal evidence
Each court record will be unique when compared to the next. Also, every jurisdiction has slightly different rules when it comes to court records and other procedural matters.
How Can Court Records Be Accessed?
Most county and local court systems maintain paper court records. These can be accessed at the court house, although they may require clearance to be accessed. Some case records are sensitive and can’t be accessed by the general public. Sealed court records also can’t be accessed by the public.
Newer changes to court systems have allowed court records to be stored electronically. In that case, some court records can be accessed through computers at the court house or online through the internet.
What Are Some Common Court Records Disputes?
Court records can often be the source of disputes during criminal cases. Some common court record disputes may involve:
- Errors in the way information was entered into “the record”
- Errors in the way court records were cited by the opposing side
- Misstatements or mischaracterization of court records
- Attempting to access sealed records
- Fraud or misrepresentation in a court document
Tampering with court records or attempting to distribute sensitive court record information can result in legal penalties, such as a fine or even criminal charges. Court records may be complex and often require the assistance of a criminal lawyer.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Court Record Disputes?
A dispute over court records can cause a delay in court proceedings, and can affect the outcome of the entire case. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you need help researching court records, of if you have a conflict involving a court record. An attorney can help you understand how court records work, so that your case may proceed uninterrupted and without delay.