How to Find Criminal Cases

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In the United States, Criminal Trials and their disposition are a matter of public record. Case information can be found at a variety of locations within a state or county depending on the case's date and disposition. Today, many cases can be found online through state supported databases or legal search engines. Most states also have archival databases of older cases and associated documents in accordance with state and federal laws.

Finding a Case

Gather information about the case. Look for: the court or county in which the case was heard; names of the defendant, judge or DA presiding over the case; the docket or case number; and the date the case was heard or decided.

Visit the appropriate court's Web site or a case search database such as the one listed in the resources below and search for the case.

Contact the appropriate county clerk's office if step 2 was not successful. Request information on criminal archives and the procedure for requesting case histories.

Find the case or case description at the appropriate archival office.

Identify the police precinct that investigated the case and the agency responsible for creating and distributing transcripts through the case history. Contact these agencies if more information is necessary.


  • Some companies will perform case searches on your behalf or allow you to access their private databases for a fee. Try to ascertain the reputability of these firms or databases before spending any money.
  • The more information you have about a case the higher the likelihood that you will be able to locate it.



About the Author

A freelance writer since 2007, Jack Spencer focuses primarily on legal and scientific topics. He also runs a copyrighting firm specializing in small-business marketing and academic research. Spencer received his B.A. in political science from the University of California.

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