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North Carolina Court Records

North Carolina Court Records refer to the official documents and files created by the state's court system, including civil and criminal courts and other judicial bodies. These records document the proceedings of court cases, including motions, hearings, trials, and appeals.

Court records in North Carolina may include case files, court transcripts, judgments, orders, and other legal documents.

North Carolina courts and other government agencies maintain them for public and private use, and authorized individuals can access these documents for various purposes.

Attorneys and law enforcement officials can use them for research and reference purposes, businesses for background checks, and individuals for personal reasons such as genealogy or to obtain copies of their court records.

North Carolina Court Records are public records per the North Carolina Public Records Law. It implies that the general public can access these records on paper, digital or electronic.

General Statutes 7A-109(a) reaffirms that court documents kept by the clerk of court according to the Administrative Office of the court's guidelines are public.

However, the public record statute exempts some court papers from publication. It excludes criminal summonses, indictments sealed by court order, and settlement documents in medical malpractice actions against public hospital facilities.

Which North Carolina Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

It is best if you are familiar with how the North Carolina court system works to simplify your court records search in North Carolina. The North Carolina Court System consists of appellate courts and trial courts. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court make up the appellate courts.

On the other hand, the trial court system in North Carolina, which keeps most public records in the state, comprises the Superior Court, the District Court, and the Business Court.

North Carolina Superior Courts

Superior Courts in North Carolina have extensive authority over all criminal and civil matters and often hear cases beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts.

Under criminal cases, they can hear all felonies, some misdemeanors, and other minor offenses.

North Carolina Superior Courts can also handle civil cases, which include:

  • General civil disputes involving more than $25,000
  • Certain kinds of injunctions and petitions for declaratory relief, constitutional rights, eminent domain, most administrative agency rulings, adoptions, and complicated commercial concerns without financial thresholds
  • Probate and estate administration for decedents
  • Guardianship cases

Each county's Clerk of Superior Courts is responsible for both the Superior Courts' and District Courts' records. Moreover, they are the judicial officer for probate, estate administration, trusts, guardianships, and special proceedings, including name changes, adoptions, and most foreclosures.

North Carolina District Courts

District Courts in North Carolina have authority over criminal and civil matters in the state.

The criminal cases they can hear are as follows:

  • Misdemeanors
  • Infractions
  • Municipal ordinance violations
  • Felony pleas
  • Preliminary hearings for all criminal cases

In civil cases, the North Carolina District Courts can handle the following matters:

  • General civil claims of less than $25,000
  • Appeals of county game commission judgments, petitions for civil no-contact orders, and domestic violence protection cases
  • Involuntary mental health commitments
  • Juvenile matters such as child abuse, child neglect, termination of parental rights, emancipation, foster care, judicial consent for abortion, and juvenile delinquency
  • Domestic relations cases such as annulment, divorce, equitable distribution of property, child support, child custody, domestic violence protection, paternity, alimony, and property settlement cases between spouses

Each District Court has a Small Claims Court division that resolves most civil claims for less than $10,000.

Some District Courts also administer specialized Family Court programs. In counties with a Family Court program, the Family Court hears most domestic relations and juvenile matters.

Some juvenile delinquency matters may be forwarded to the Superior Court to prosecute the juvenile as an adult.

Furthermore, the Superior and District Courts may provide Family Drug Treatment Court, Adult Drug Treatment Court, and Youth Treatment Court as specialized programs.

North Carolina Business Court

The North Carolina Business Court is a specialized division of the Superior Court comprised of judges that handle complex business disputes involving large or intricate corporate or commercial law concerns.

Generally, they can handle cases related to the following:

  • Antitrust law
  • Securities law
  • Unfair competition laws
  • State trademark law
  • Intellectual property
  • Internet-related cases
  • Electronic commerce cases
  • Biotechnology cases

Business Court offices in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem handle matters throughout the state.

What are the Common Public Court Records in North Carolina?

Some of the most common types of public North Carolina Court Records include the following:

North Carolina Civil and Small Claims Records

Small Claims Courts in North Carolina are designed to handle minor disputes between individuals or businesses. The small claims court procedures in North Carolina are less formal and less costly than traditional civil courts, making them accessible to people who cannot afford an attorney or do not want to go through a more complex legal process.

These courts handle cases that involve claims for up to $10,000. Some of the most common small claims in North Carolina include the recovery of money, the recovery of personal property, and summary ejectment (eviction).

In North Carolina, Magistrates administer these courts. They are court officials authorized to hear certain cases and make decisions.

To get complete information from North Carolina Small Claims Records, visit the Small Claims Court of the District Court in the county that handled the case.

On the other hand, North Carolina Civil Records are legal court documents that provide a detailed record of court proceedings and decisions related to civil cases. These records often have information on disputes with a $10,000 or more financial stake.

Generally, they include the following:

  • Pleadings and motions filed by the parties involved, such as complaints, answers, and counterclaims
  • Court orders and judgments that outline the court's decisions and rulings in the case
  • Transcripts of court hearings, which record judicial proceedings
  • Presented exhibits and evidence in the case, such as photographs, videos, and other materials
  • Financial records, such as tax returns, bank statements, and other financial documents relevant to the case
  • Any settlements or agreements reached between the parties outside of court

Since these records are general claims, you can ask the appropriate Superior Court, District Court, and Business Court that filed the case to get information from North Carolina Civil Records.

North Carolina Criminal Records

Criminal records are one of the most common types of public court records in North Carolina. These records include information about criminal cases, including arrest records, charges, convictions, sentencing, and other details.

Various law enforcement agencies maintain North Carolina Criminal Records, including the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and county-level sheriffs' offices and courts.

Some of the common types of criminal records in North Carolina are as follows:

Arrest Records

These documents provide information about an individual's arrest, including the reason for the arrest, the arresting agency, and any bail or bond information.

Inmate Records

These official documents provide information about individuals incarcerated in the state's correctional facilities. They typically include information about the inmate's details, such as their name, age, gender, and race, as well as their criminal history, charges, and sentence.

Warrant Records

A warrant record in North Carolina is an official document that provides information about an outstanding warrant issued by a court or law enforcement agency.

There are several ways to obtain North Carolina Criminal Records. But the best ones are through the Certified Background Check of the North Carolina Court System and the Criminal Background Check Request page of the SBI.

North Carolina Traffic Records

North Carolina Traffic Records are papers detailing state residents' driving or traffic history. It often includes the following:

  • The subject's name and address
  • The driver's license number of the subject
  • The driver's license validity status and expiration date
  • Traffic tickets or traffic violations
  • Any traffic-related convictions
  • Sentencing information
  • Traffic crashes information

In North Carolina, only the eligible persons can request these records, which may include:

  • The driver or applicant themselves
  • Government agencies for official functions
  • Employers that need to validate the information on commercial driver's licenses
  • Insurance companies
  • Private toll operations for driver identification

You can find the entire list of authorized persons who can access driving records on the North Carolina Department of Transport website.

Once you have a valid reason to request, aside from the state court that heard the case, you can get a copy of a state traffic record through the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

North Carolina Probate Records

North Carolina Probate Records are legal documents and records related to the administration of an individual's estate after death. The probate process in North Carolina settles the deceased's assets and liabilities and distributes them to heirs.

The Probate Division of the North Carolina Superior Court oversees this process, and probate records are created as a result. These records typically include the following:

  • Wills
  • Inventories of the decedent's assets
  • Trust instrument
  • Court orders
  • Petitions and pleadings
  • Notices to creditors
  • Letters testamentary or letters of administration

These records can be helpful for genealogical research, as they can contain information about family relationships, property ownership, and other aspects of the decedent's life. They are also beneficial in settling disputes related to the estate or establishing the rightful heirs of the decedent's property.

To obtain accurate information from a North Carolina Probate Record, contact or visit the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived at the time of their death.

North Carolina Family Records

North Carolina Family Records from state courts typically include legal documents related to marriage, divorce, child custody, and other family law matters.

The specific information contained in a record will depend on the case type and the legal proceeding stage. Some of the information included in a North Carolina Family Court Record includes:

  • Case information, such as the names of the parties involved, the type of case, the date of the initial filing, and the case number
  • Pleadings and motions, including petitions, answers, counterclaims, and motions
  • Copies of any orders or judgments issued by the court, including orders related to child custody, visitation, and support, as well as orders related to property division, spousal support, and other matters
  • Hearing and trial transcripts, which record court statement
  • Copies of exhibits and evidence presented in court, such as financial documents, photographs, and medical records

In North Carolina, the clerk of the District Court in the county where the legal proceeding occurred often manages these records. To access these records, you may need to contact the appropriate court and, in some cases, provide proof of your relationship to the individuals named in the documents.

You can use this Family Court Districts Map to find the correct court.

North Carolina Bankruptcy Records

Unlike other public North Carolina Court Records, North Carolina Bankruptcy Records are created and maintained by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is a federal court and not part of the trial court system in the state.

North Carolina Bankruptcy Records are documents that record the details of a bankruptcy filing in the state. They contain a variety of information related to a bankruptcy case, but some of the information that you can find in these records includes:

  • The name, address, and contact information of the individual or business that filed for bankruptcy
  • The type of bankruptcy filed, such as Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13
  • The names and contact information of any creditors involved in the bankruptcy case
  • The bankruptcy petition, which is the initial document filed to start the bankruptcy case
  • Any court orders or decisions related to the matter, such as orders to sell assets or discharge debts
  • The name and contact information of the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case
  • Documentation associated with the mandatory credit counseling required before filing for bankruptcy
  • Information related to the meeting of creditors, which is a meeting that takes place between the debtor, creditors, and trustee to discuss the details of the case
  • Financial statements submitted by the debtor, such as income and expense statements, asset and liability schedules, and other financial information
  • Other relevant documents, such as motions, affidavits, and other legal filings related to the case

With the help of Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), you can access these records online through the websites of the following bankruptcy courts in North Carolina:

Additionally, you can visit any court locations (click any bankruptcy courts above)  to get information from a North Carolina Bankruptcy Record. You will need to complete a form requesting access to bankruptcy records, provide a valid government-issued photo ID, and pay any applicable fees to obtain copies of the document.

North Carolina Court System has a case search page called "Court Dates." It allows you to search for case information for criminal and civil cases in the state.

To use the page, you can search by the defendant's name, the case number, or the court date. You can also search by county to find cases in a specific area. It provides information on the case type, the court location, the date, and upcoming court appearances.

It's important to note that while some information is available on this service, certain case details may not be available in this method. In such cases, you may need to perform other approaches to access or obtain North Carolina Court Records.

The other method you can use is the Civil Case Processing System (VCAP). These are the public, self-service terminals where you can access a court record in North Carolina.

At these terminals, you can receive information on court papers about civil cases using party names and file numbers.

Before accessing the VCAP, you must log in using user IDs and passwords. If you have trouble getting to the terminals, call the Help Desk at (919) 890-2407.

Alternatively, through its Remote Public Access Program (RPA), the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts gives you access to criminal and civil court records in all North Carolina counties.

Lastly, you can get these records by visiting the courthouses with the relevant documents. You can use this tool to locate and contact the appropriate court.

Once you arrive at the court, go to the records department and ask the clerk for assistance. You may need to fill out a request form and pay a fee to access the records. The cost varies depending on the type of record and the court.

Counties in North Carolina

Courts in North Carolina

Mecklenburg County Superior Court832 E. 4th St., Charlotte, NC
Wake County Superior Court316 Fayetteville St. Mall, Raleigh, NC
North Carolina Court of Appeals1 W. Morgan St., Raleigh, NC
North Carolina Supreme Court2 E. Morgan St., Raleigh, NC
Guilford County Superior Court201 S. Eugene St., Greensboro, NC
Forsyth County Superior Court200 N. Main St., Winston Salem, NC
Cumberland County Superior Court117 Dick St., Fayetteville, NC
Durham County Superior Court510 S. Dillard St., Durham, NC
Buncombe County Superior Court60 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC
Gaston County Superior Court325 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Gastonia, NC