A party can find information on an inmate’s court date on the website of the court that is hearing the case. The party can also call, email or visit the court to learn the inmate’s court date. If the party is a friend or relative of the inmate, she can contact the inmate’s attorney. If the party is a victim, she can contact the district attorney’s office.
What Information Is Needed
A party will need the full name and date of birth of the inmate. It may also be helpful to know the county in which the inmate has been charged and the number of his criminal case. A party may want to know the inmate’s booking date, the jail at which the inmate is being held and the offense with which the inmate has been charged. Some states, like Colorado, request the bar number of the inmate’s defense attorney.
Read More: How to Get Information About an Inmate's Crime
Reading a Court Docket
The court docket will list an inmate’s proceedings by date and type. Arraignment is a common type of proceeding. Sometimes a court docket will simply say "continued" after the proceeding type. The court will not have set a date for the next proceeding.
A court usually does this when it is trying to schedule the best date for the inmate’s next appearance, such as a trial. When a court docket does not provide a date, a party should contact the court.
Why Court Dates Get Rescheduled
It is not uncommon for an inmate’s court date to be rescheduled. An inmate may not come to court if he is sick or the jail has failed to transport him, for example. Some jails remedy these situations by having an inmate appear by video; others do not.
A court will typically reschedule an important proceeding like a motion hearing for a time when the inmate is well and can appear in person. Appearing in person allows the inmate to work effectively with his attorney.
An inmate’s court date may also be rescheduled if the inmate has committed a new offense or she has requested a continuance, or postponement. For example, an inmate may request a continuance to further discuss representation with his attorney or because an interpreter is not available.
When There Are Multiple Court Dates
An inmate who has cases in more than one court may have multiple court dates. Typically, after an inmate is incarcerated in one county, his attorney will request that his cases in other county courts be stayed, or put on hold, until after his pending case has been resolved. After the inmate’s case has been resolved, the other courts will set new court dates for him.
Noncriminal Court Dates
The jail holding the inmate will transport her for critical court dates for noncriminal court cases. A party can call the civil clerk of the court to learn an inmate’s court date for a dependency case or a case involving a restraining order. If a party is a relative or friend of the inmate, she can contact the party’s attorney to see if she can help by bringing necessary documents to court.
Inmates Who Are Undocumented Immigrants
Sometimes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests that an undocumented immigrant inmate being held in a county jail be transferred into its custody. Local jails are not required to honor these requests, yet some do. After ICE takes an undocumented inmate into its custody, it determines whether to pursue removal proceedings. ICE may not return the inmate to the local jail. In this event, the inmate’s court date for the pending case will be canceled.
- The Superior Court of California, County of Orange: Court Appearance
- Colorado Judicial Branch: Court Docket Search
- Williamson County, Texas: Criminal Case Records
- Washington Courts: Find My Court Date Searches
- Pierce County, Washington: Legal Information Network Exchange (LINX)
- USA Today: The Process of Deportation
- The clerk of court website for your county may not be worded in exactly the same way. Some use slightly different language, which can make finding the court records a little more difficult, but all should have the information. Occasionally, cases are moved to another court at the last minute, making the website out of date. Inmates are usually taken to the courthouse for hearings, so if you do not see the inmate in the court, check with the clerk of court office. It is usually located in the same building. In the event the county you are searching does not have an online database, call or visit the clerk of court's office or the prosecutor's office.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.