The Guide to Alabama Court Records

Overview of Alabama Courts

The Alabama trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, District Courts, Probate Courts, and Municipal Courts.
 
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases but usually handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. District Courts, Probate Courts and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

Please select a Alabama county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court.
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Select a court record or online resource category below to view all resources at both the statewide and county level.
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Alabama Circuit Courts
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all types of cases, and typically handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. If no other court has jurisdiction over a case, the case will be heard in Circuit Court.

Criminal cases handled by Circuit Courts include most felony cases, some misdemeanors and some lesser-included offenses. Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with District Courts over guilty pleas in felony cases that do not include a death penalty.

Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction to hear all civil cases when the amount in dispute is more than $10,000, excluding interest and costs. Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with District Courts for most civil cases involving amounts between $3000 and $10,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and costs. Most domestic relations cases are heard in Circuit Courts.

Circuit Courts and District Courts have divisions for Juvenile Court and share jurisdiction over juvenile cases. When Circuit Courts or District Courts handle juvenile cases, these judges sit as a Juvenile Court and a separate docket is maintained. In some counties, Juvenile Court is called Family Court. In some counties, Family Court may hear paternity, child custody, and child support cases as well as Juvenile Court cases.

Circuit Courts may hear claims involving less than $3000 when a District Court lacks jurisdiction over a certain type of claim, including some cases that request certain types of equitable relief and actions for negligence against municipalities. Circuit Courts do not offer a simplified Small Claims court process, and civil cases that are eligible for the simplified Small Claims procedure are within the exclusive jurisdiction of District Court.

Circuit Courts can receive some cases from Probate Courts, including the administration of estates and some involuntary commitment cases, if proper requests for a transfer are made and granted.
Alabama District Courts
District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases handled by District Courts include most misdemeanors, some ordinance violations, preliminary hearings for felony cases, and guilty pleas in felony cases that do not include a death penalty.

Some misdemeanors and ordinance violations may be heard by Circuit Courts as lesser-included offenses in a felony case, or if an indictment for a misdemeanor has been returned by a grand jury. District Courts will generally only handle ordinance violations if no Municipal Court exists in the area, and shares jurisdiction with Municipal Courts over criminal acts that violate state laws but can also be prosecuted as municipal ordinance violations.

Civil cases handled by District Courts include general civil cases when the amount in dispute is less than $10,000, excluding interest and costs. District Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over most civil cases that involve amounts in dispute between $3000 and $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs. District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over Small Claims cases, which are most civil cases that involve less than $3000 in dispute, excluding interest and costs.

District Courts share jurisdiction over juvenile cases with Circuit Courts and can receive certain cases, such as adoptions, from the Probate Court if a proper request is made and granted. When Circuit Courts or District Courts hear juvenile cases, these judges sit as a Juvenile Court and a separate docket is maintained. In some counties, Juvenile Court is called Family Court. In some counties, Family Court may hear paternity, child custody, and child support cases as well as Juvenile Court cases.

District Courts offer a simplified Small Claims procedure for eligible cases involving less than $3000 in dispute. Cases that are beyond the limits of District Court jurisdiction are heard in Circuit Courts, even if the amount of money in dispute is less than $3000. For example, District Courts do not have jurisdiction over certain types of equitable relief, including declaratory judgments, and District Courts are prohibited from exercising jurisdiction over certain types of cases, including actions for negligence against municipalities.
Alabama Probate Courts
Probate Courts have original and general jurisdiction over cases that include the probate of wills, the administration of estates, guardianships and conservatorships, involuntary mental health commitments, adoptions, and name changes.

Certain types of cases can be transferred out of Probate Courts to Circuit Courts or District Courts, if a proper request is made and granted. Circuit Courts may handle cases related to the administration of estates, some involuntary commitment cases, some guardianships, some adoptions and other types of probate cases. A District Court may handle some guardianships, some adoptions and other cases related to the exercise of jurisdiction as a Juvenile Court.

Although the Probate Court has original and general jurisdiction over name changes, cases involving changes of name may be part of divorce, adoption or other similar cases, so records of such name changes may exist in other courts.
Alabama Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over most municipal ordinance violations. Municipal Courts share jurisdiction with District Courts over criminal acts that are violations of state law and municipal law.

District Courts will generally only handle ordinance violations if no Municipal Court has territorial jurisdiction over the offense. Ordinance violations may be heard by Circuit Courts and District Courts as lesser-included offenses.

Where to find court cases in Alabama
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Alabama.
 
Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
General Civil - Unlimited
Most or all General Civil - Unlimited cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 
 
General Civil - Limited
Some General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Most or all General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Small Claims
 
Most or all Small Claims cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Civil Equity
Most or all Civil Equity cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
Some Civil Equity cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Complex Commercial
Most or all Complex Commercial cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 
 
Foreclosures and Liens
Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Real Estate Title and Boundary
Most or all Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
Some Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Landlord / Tenant
Some Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Ordinance Violations
 
Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the District Courts
 
Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders
Most or all Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 
 
Administrative Agency Appeals
Most or all Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Criminal Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Felony
Most or all Felony cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Felony cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Felony Preliminary Hearings
Most or all Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Misdemeanors
Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Most or all Misdemeanors cases can be found in the District Courts
 
Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Ordinance Violations
 
Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the District Courts
 
Most or all Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Juvenile
Some Juvenile cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Juvenile cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Traffic and Infractions
 
Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the District Courts
 
Most or all Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Domestic Relations Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Divorce
Most or all Divorce cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 
 
Child Custody and Visitation
Most or all Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Child Support
Most or all Child Support cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Child Support cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Paternity
Most or all Paternity cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Paternity cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Domestic Violence Protection Order
Most or all Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 
 
Juvenile Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Adoptions
Some Adoptions cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Adoptions cases can be found in the District Courts
Most or all Adoptions cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Juvenile Delinquency
Some Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Child Abuse and Neglect
Some Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Termination of Parental Rights
Some Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Children in Need of Supervision
Some Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the District Courts
 
 
Mental Health Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Involuntary Commitments
Some Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
Most or all Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Other Mental Health Cases
Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the District Courts
Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Probate Circuit Courts District Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Wills & Estates
Some Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
Most or all Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Name Changes
 
 
Most or all Name Changes cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Trusts
Some Trusts cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
Most or all Trusts cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the District Courts
Most or all Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Probate Courts
 

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