The Guide to North Carolina Court Records

Overview of North Carolina Courts

The North Carolina trial court system consists of Superior Courts, District Courts, Business Court, and Family Courts.
 
North Carolina has a unified court system referred to as the General Court of Justice. Superior Courts and District Courts are the trial court divisions of the North Carolina General Court of Justice. The North Carolina Business Court is a specialized court division composed of Superior Court judges that handle complex business and commercial cases. Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but generally handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts. District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases. The North Carolina General Court of Justice has also established Family Court divisions in some District Courts to handle domestic relations, mental health and juvenile cases that would otherwise be heard by Superior or District Courts.

Please select a North Carolina county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court.
Find North Carolina court pages by Town or Zip Code.
Select a court record or online resource category below to view all resources at both the statewide and county level.
Go to the court records pages for another state.
North Carolina Superior Courts
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts.

Criminal cases heard by Superior Courts include all felonies, some misdemeanors and lesser-included offenses.

Civil cases heard by Superior Courts include general civil claims with more than $10,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and costs. Superior Courts also handle cases without financial thresholds, such as certain types of injunctions and requests for declaratory relief, constitutional rights, eminent domain, most administrative agency decisions, adoptions and complex business issues.

Superior Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over proceedings in probate and the administration of estates for decedents. Superior Courts have original jurisdiction over most guardianship cases, but if a Family Court division is in operation in the area, the Family Court division will hear most guardianships.

Family Court divisions operate out of District Courts and typically handle cases involving divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, child neglect, child abuse, termination of parental rights, paternity, abortion consent waivers, guardianships and involuntary commitments. Family Court divisions do not exist in all courts, and when no Family Court division has territorial jurisdiction over a case, the case will be heard in an appropriate division of Superior or District Court.

A Superior Court may have specialized divisions for Adult Drug Treatment Court, Family Drug Treatment Court, and Youth Treatment Court.

The North Carolina Business Court is a specialized court division composed of Superior Court judges that handle complex business cases with significant or complicated issues of corporate or commercial law. The Business Court handles cases for the entire state from three main locations in Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh.

Clerks of Superior Courts handle records for both Superior Courts and District Courts.
North Carolina District Courts
District Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by District Courts include most misdemeanors, most infractions and municipal ordinance violations. District Courts also conduct preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases and can receive guilty pleas in some felony cases.

Civil cases heard by District Courts include general civil claims for less than $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs. District Courts also handle appeals of county game commission decisions, domestic violence protection cases and requests for civil no-contact orders.

District Courts each have a Small Claims Court division that handles most general civil claims for less than $5000, exclusive of interest and costs. Small Claims Court divisions handle claims for the recovery of money, the recovery of personal property and summary ejectment (eviction).

District Courts also handle domestic relations cases and juvenile matters. Domestic relations cases include divorce, annulment, domestic violence protection, child custody, child support, paternity, equitable distribution of property, alimony and cases related to separation or property settlement agreements between spouses. Juvenile matters include juvenile dependency, child neglect, child abuse, emancipation, termination of parental rights, foster care, judicial consent for abortion, juveniles alleged to be undisciplined and juvenile delinquency.

Some District Courts operate specialized Family Court divisions that handle cases that would otherwise be filed in Superior or District Courts. If a Family Court division exists, most domestic relations, mental health and juvenile cases are heard by the Family Court division. Some juvenile delinquency cases may be transferred to Superior Court for prosecution of the juvenile as an adult.

A District Court may have specialized divisions for Adult Drug Treatment Court, Family Drug Treatment Court, and Youth Treatment Court.

The Clerk of the Superior Court handles record keeping for both the superior court and the district court.
North Carolina Business Court
The North Carolina Business Court is a specialized court division composed of Superior Court judges that handle complex business cases with significant or complicated issues of corporate or commercial law.

Cases generally handled by the Business Court include issues of securities law, antitrust law, State trademark law, most unfair competition laws, intellectual property, the Internet, electronic commerce and biotechnology.

The Business Court handles cases for the entire state from three main locations in Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh.
North Carolina Family Courts
Family Courts are specialized court divisions that exist in some District Courts. These court divisions are currently in a limited pilot phase, and may expand in the future.

Family Court divisions handle domestic relations, mental health and juvenile cases that would otherwise be heard by Superior or District Courts. In areas without Family Court divisions, cases will be heard in the appropriate division of Superior or District Court.

Family Court divisions typically handle domestic relations and juvenile cases, including divorce, child custody, visitation, child support, domestic violence protection, juvenile delinquency, child protection, termination of parental rights, paternity, abortion consent waivers, guardianships and involuntary commitments.

Family Court divisions currently operate in Anson, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cumberland, Durham, Greene, Halifax, Lenoir, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, New Hanover, Pender, Pitt, Randolph, Richmond, Stanly, Union, Wake, and Wilson Counties.
North Carolina Drug Treatment Courts
Superior Courts and District Courts may have specialized divisions for Adult Drug Treatment Court, Family Drug Treatment Court and Youth Treatment Court.

Adult Drug Treatment Courts work with eligible repeat offenders. Family Drug Treatment Courts work with eligible parents who risk losing custody of their children due to abuse or neglect. Youth Treatment Courts work with eligible youth in the juvenile justice system. Some Drug Treatment Court divisions have a Mental Health Treatment Court subdivision or component.

These court divisions are currently in a limited pilot phase, and may expand in the future.

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

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

Note: Some courts in North Carolina are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
 
  Business Court   Family Courts

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