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Finding Court Records in California

California Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the California state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The California trial court system consists of Superior Courts.

California has a unified court system, so all court proceedings are conducted in Superior Courts. Superior Courts are organized into court divisions based on case type. Divisions within a Superior Court may include Civil, Criminal, Family, Probate, Juvenile, Traffic, Small Claims and Drug Court.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to California Courts by County.

California Superior Courts

Superior Courts have jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases.

Superior Courts are organized into court divisions based on case type. Divisions within a Superior Court may include Criminal, Civil, Small Claims, Family, Probate, Juvenile, Traffic and Drug Court.

Criminal Divisions generally handle felony and misdemeanor cases.

Civil Divisions may be split into divisions for "Unlimited" cases and "Limited" cases. Generally, "Limited" cases involve claims for less than $25,000, and "Unlimited" cases involve claims for more than $25,000.

Small Claims Divisions generally handle civil claims for less than $7500, if the case is eligible for the simplified Small Claims process. Additional restrictions on Small Claims jurisdiction exist, including financial and other limits on the use of the Small Claims process by businesses and organizations.

Family Divisions generally handle cases involving families and children, including dissolution of marriage, legal separation, paternity, child custody, child support, domestic violence, division of marital property and spousal support.

Probate Divisions generally handle cases related to estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, trusts and wills.

Juvenile Divisions generally handle cases involving juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect, and children in need of supervision.

Traffic Divisions generally handle traffic-related citations, including parking and other offenses punishable by fines. Some juvenile traffic cases may be heard by this division.

Drug Courts are specialized court divisions that focus on rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration for certain types of criminal cases.

In addition to Superior Courts, California has independent Tribal Courts.

Where to Find Court Cases in California

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of California court.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

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

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