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What Are Civil Court Records?

Civil court records involve any type of civil action taken in a court of law. A civil action is not a criminal charge. Rather, it occurs when an individual brings a lawsuit on another individual or business. Civil court records document the legal claims made by the individual suing the other as well as the outcome of the civil action. The goal in these types of cases is too often to award one person or a group of people with a monetary award in the hopes of resolving a conflict. While no criminal action may take place, individuals can still pursue civil trials.


Civil court records are often maintained by the courts in which they occur. In some cases, this information occurs at the state level but in most situations, civil actions are handled in county courts or even city courts. The court system that tries the case will keep most information on hand. In nearly all states, it is a requirement that all court actions, except those specifically limited by judges or those for minors to be open to the public. This means that those who wish to view civil court records can do so by requesting this information.


There are many types of civil actions that may be documented in this manner. This includes any actions involving civil lawsuits, civil judgments, small claims awards and evictions. In some cities and counties, an individual who wishes to learn about the civil records of a specific person or event will need to make a formal request for this information. That information can then be accessed.


Numerous databases can provide access to information though. The most common one is the Circuit Court Automation Program, or CCAP. This resource allows for all civil cases to be accessible by case number, court name, name of the defendant or the name of the claimant. Some information may not be included here. There is no information included in this database about sexually oriented crimes or criminals, violent crimes, sealed cases, juvenile records or other cases with similar backgrounds.


In situations in which the civil court records are available, the information contained in these records will vary based on the actual reporting entity. For example, in civil claims, the information about the charges, the actual awards and the details of the case may be available. In other cases, only a notation of the action will be included.


Those who need access to civil court records will be able to search based on any information available about the incident including and especially with court identification numbers, case file numbers, the names of the parties involved and the court system hearing the case. In addition, individuals can perform a database search online to gather some information but only information that is open to the public will be available here. Those individuals who wish to learn about their own civil court records can petition the court for that information. Any changes to these records must be done through the reporting agency.


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