Illinois Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the Illinois state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Illinois trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, Municipal Courts, and Court of Claims.
Illinois has a unified trial court system with Circuit Courts exercising general jurisdiction over most cases. Certain cases involving the State of Illinois are heard by the Court of Claims. Some cities and towns operate municipal courts that hear ordinance violation cases.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Illinois courts by county.
Illinois Circuit CourtsCircuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, with the exception of cases heard exclusively by the Court of Claims or the Illinois Supreme Court.
Circuit Courts may be organized into divisions based on case type, such as Law Division (for general civil cases), Criminal Division, Probate Division, Traffic Division, and Domestic Relations Division. Circuit Courts may also have divisions for Juvenile Court and Juvenile Drug Court.
Circuit Courts offer a simplified Small Claims procedure for most civil cases that involve less than $5000 in dispute.
Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with the Illinois Supreme Court over cases related to revenue, mandamus prohibition and habeas corpus, but if the Supreme Court accepts jurisdiction over a particular case, a Circuit Court cannot. In addition, Circuit Courts may not hear cases related to General Assembly redistricting or cases related to the ability of the Governor to serve in or resume office.
Illinois Municipal CourtsSome towns in Illinois may have a muncipal court that hears cases of ordinance violations. Examples of ordinance violations that may be heard by municipal courts in Illinois include barking dogs, parking tickets, and littering.
Any violation of a state law, such as a speeding ticket, will still be adjudicated through the county's Circuit Court.
These cases may be handled administratively rather than by a judge in open court.
Illinois Court of ClaimsThe Court of Claims has statewide jurisdiction and offices in Springfield and Chicago. The Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over many types of civil cases involving the State of Illinois.
Cases heard by the Court of Claims include contract disputes, certain torts, some claims for time unjustly served in prison, all claims for recoupment made by the State against any claimant, certain types of cases involving the FutureGen Project and most claims against the State based on Illinois law or regulation.
The Court of Claims handles most claims based on the Line of Duty Act, the Crime Victims Compensation Act and the Illinois National Guardsman's Compensation Act.
Where to Find Court Cases in Illinois
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Illinois court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Circuit Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|