Indiana Court Records Search
According to Indiana Rules on Access to Court Records, court records refer to any information, document, data, or item that a court, court agency, or court clerk has about a specific case. These typically include documents of court orders, any case file (or files), court transcripts, legal documents, and judgments.
An Indiana court record search refers to the process of obtaining these records from their respective custodians. Public access to court records promotes transparency and accountability in the administration of justice. These documents offer a complete and thorough account of court proceedings and decisions, serve as a historical record of court cases, and can be a source of evidentiary material in future legal proceedings.
Are Indiana Court Records Public?
The Indiana Access to Public Records Act is the state's freedom of information law. This act was enacted in 1983, and it grants all members of the public access to public records in Indiana. As defined by this law, a public record is any documented information created, received, retained, maintained, or filed by or with a public agency.
How Do I Find Court Records in Indiana?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Indiana is identifying the type of record required and the court where that record is located. After this, contact the court's record custodian. For instance, the record custodian for Indiana's Appellate Courts is the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, and this clerk can be contacted at:
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 232-1930 (Main Office)
Phone: (317) 232-7225 (Records Division)
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
Indiana Court Records Public Access
Court records for the Trial Courts in the Indiana judicial system are maintained by the respective offices of the Clerks of Court, where the records are located. Contact information for these offices can be gotten from the state judiciary's online court directory.
Record custodians typically require certain information from the person that wishes to access the record. This information is necessary to facilitate a record search, and it usually includes details of the case, like the case number and the names of the parties involved in the case. Requesters may also be required to provide a valid form of identification and pay a fee before obtaining copies of court records. Copies of Indiana court records typically cost $1 per page, while certified copies cost $2 per page. Requests for records can be made in person or writing via mail-in. Some Indiana court records can also be accessed online through the state judiciary's Case Search portal.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through traditional government sources and third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search more straightforward 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. 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 compared to government sources.
How to Conduct Indiana Court Record Search by Name
Many court records are available online through the Indiana Courts Case Records Portal. This can be used to search for court records in all Indiana trial courts by providing the full name or business name of organizations. Additional search criteria include the party's date of birth, court location or type, and case type. However, when searching for court records online, remember that not all recent records may be available, and some may only be accessible in person at the court. Certain records may be confidential and require written permission or a court order to access due to sensitive information.
To do a court record search in person, visit the courthouse where the case was heard to search for any court records. The name of the party being searched will need to be provided to the clerk of the courthouse, and any applicable fee paid to access the records.
For persons who wish to obtain the record by mail order, write a letter to the courthouse where the case was heard requesting the records. The name of the person being searched for, the type of court case, and any applicable fee for the search will need to be provided. The court will mail the records to the address provided.
How to Get Court Records Online for Free
Different court systems have their own rules and procedures regarding the availability of court records to the public and the associated fees. Record requesters have the following options:
- PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records): This is an online database that provides access to federal court records, including case and docket information, opinions, and filings. While PACER charges a fee for accessing court records, the fee is $0.10 per page, with a maximum fee of $3.00 per document. Individuals can also request a fee exemption if they meet certain requirements.
- State and Local Court Portals: Many state and local courts have their own websites where persons can access court records online for free or for a nominal fee. These websites may provide access to case dockets, case summaries, and court decisions. Federal courts also offer electronic filing, which allows users to file and access court documents online.
- Third-party aggregate websites: There are also third-party websites that aggregate court records from multiple sources, such as federal and state courts, to provide a centralized location for accessing court records. These websites may offer free access to basic court information, such as case summaries and court dates, but may charge a fee for more detailed information. Note, however, that the information obtained may not always be accurate or up-to-date.
Types of Courts in Indiana
Indiana's state courts consist of two primary levels: trial courts and appellate courts. The appellate-level courts include the Supreme Court of Indiana, the Court of Appeals of Indiana, and the Indiana Tax Court, which primarily handle cases that have already been decided in a trial court.
Indiana has three kinds of trial courts: Circuit Courts, Superior Courts, as well as local City or Town Courts, which are similar in nature and purpose but have different names due to legislative history and local custom. The cases these courts handle can vary from county to county.
What are Indiana Judgment Records?
Judgment records in Indiana show the adjudication of a criminal or civil case filed in a court of competent jurisdiction in the state. The court's decision, issued in the form of an order or a declaration of legal rights and responsibilities, becomes binding when the clerk documents it. This documentation also creates a judgment record available to the public per the Indiana Access To Public Records Act.
Persons who wish to obtain judgment records in Indiana must identify the record custodian and provide the necessary details to facilitate a search. Furthermore, the individual must prepare to cover the associated court fees. Armed with this information, the individual may visit the clerk's office in the court where the case was adjudicated. Generally, this court is located in the county where the defendant lives or where the incident happened.
Once there, the requester must provide the information needed to identify the court record, such as case number, litigants' names, and the year of judgment. The administrative fees that courts charge cover the labor cost of searching and making copies of the documents sought. Most courts accept cash, money orders, certified checks, and credit cards for these fees.
While Indiana judgment records contain information that reflects the case type, there are similarities. A typical judgment record contains:
- The litigants' names.
- The judge's name.
- The specific claims of the parties involved.
- The issued judgment.
What are Indiana Bankruptcy Records?
Indiana bankruptcy records provide details on cases filed with the Southern or Northern Federal Bankruptcy Courts in Indiana. Bankruptcy records are open to the public, except where protected by law or a court order. Anyone may have legal access to these records for various reasons. Records may contain information about the person, business, or company that files for bankruptcy, including the debtor's income, source(s) of income assets, debts owed, and amounts for each creditor.
Bankruptcy records and associated recordings such as writs, contracts, and Indiana liens are deemed public information unless otherwise stated by a judicial order. Interested persons may obtain these documents by querying the relevant government agency.
How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Indiana
Bankruptcy records are public records in Indiana, and anyone can access them per the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The US Bankruptcy Clerk's office provides public access terminals for interested parties to search for case numbers and related records. Requesters can visit the appropriate courthouse to submit a record request and obtain printed copies of the documents for $0.10 per page. They may also submit written requests to the Bankruptcy Court Clerk's Office.
Alternatively, requesters may access bankruptcy records through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system. To access the records, the individual must first register for a PACER account, which is free of charge. However, there is a fee of $0.10 per page to view documents. Once registered, individuals can search for bankruptcy cases using the debtor's name or case number and review the bankruptcy records electronically.
Can You Look Up Court Cases in Indiana?
The state judicial system allows the public to lookup Indiana court cases and case information online at no cost via its Case Search portal. Interested parties can search for cases on this portal by party name, attorney name, or case number. Alternatively, interested parties can access court case information by contacting the Clerk of Court's office where the case was heard. Copies of these court records can also be obtained from these offices or by utilizing a third-party vendor's services. Note that obtaining copies of court records typically requires the payment of a fee.
Indiana Court Case Lookup Exemptions
Indiana Rule 5 of Access to Court Records outlines the conditions for public access to court records. The rule stipulates that the following information is exempt from public disclosure:
- Information that is required by law to be kept confidential, such as juvenile delinquency records and certain adoption records.
- Information that is deemed confidential by court order, such as trade secrets or privileged or confidential commercial or financial information.
- Information that could compromise the safety or security of individuals or the court, such as information about a witness's address or a judge's home address.
- Information related to mental health, substance abuse treatment, and other medical or psychological treatment, unless the individual consents to disclosure.
- Information that would reveal the identity of a victim of certain crimes and may be subject to attorney-client privilege
What is a Court Docket in Indiana?
An Indiana court docket is an official record of court proceedings, including cases before the court, scheduled hearings, and case statuses. The clerk of court maintains court dockets, which are public records in Indiana and can be used for case tracking by attorneys and parties, research by journalists and researchers, and to promote transparency and accountability in the court system for the public. The court docket can be searched online through the Indiana MyCase portal or in person at the clerk's office in the relevant county.
What are Civil Courts and Small Claims in Indiana?
In the Indiana judicial system, civil matters, including small claims, generally fall under the Circuit Courts and the Superior Courts' jurisdiction. Generally, Indiana Small Claims Courts handle civil matters where the amount in controversy is not more than $6,000. However, the Marion County Small Claims Courts handle civil matters that involve up to $8,000. Marion County is the only county in the state that has separate small claims courts.
Some City Courts and Town Courts are also statutorily authorized to handle small claims matters. The jurisdiction of these courts in small claims matters depends on the population of the area where the court is located:
- City Courts located in the five cities that have the largest population in counties inhabited by 400,001 – 699,999 people can handle small claims of up to $6,000
- Town Courts located in the largest town in counties inhabited by more than 400,000 people but less than 700,000 people can handle small claims of up to $6,000
- City Courts located in a city that is not a county seat and has a population of less than 35,000 can handle small claims matters that do not involve more than $3,000
- City Courts located in cities that have a population of more than 10,500 but less than 11,000 can handle small claims matters where the amount in controversy is not more than $1,500
Note that City Courts have no jurisdiction over any civil action that involves libel, slander, foreclosures of real estate mortgages that involve the title to the real estate, matters involving the estate of a deceased person, and actions in equity.
The Indiana Tax Court is an Appellate Court. Nevertheless, it maintains a small claims docket with original jurisdiction over refund claims from the Indiana Department of Revenue of less than $5,000.
Small claims matters are usually less formal and less expensive than other civil matters filed, and they do not require an attorney's presence. Generally, parties that wish to file a small claims matter in the State of Indiana must do so within a particular time frame after the incident occurred. Cases involving personal injuries, property damage, and unwritten employment contracts should be filed within two years. Matters involving contracts for sales of goods should be filed within four years, and matters involving rental disputes, recovery of property, and unwritten contracts should be filed within six years.