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Finding Court Records in Ohio

Ohio Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Ohio state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Ohio trial court system consists of Courts of Common Pleas, County Courts, Municipal Courts, Mayor's Courts, and Court of Claims.

The Courts of Common Pleas have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases and typically handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. County Courts, Municipal Courts and Mayor\'s Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases. The Court of Claims is a specialized court that handles certain types of civil cases against the State of Ohio and its agencies.

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

Ohio Courts of Common Pleas

The Courts of Common Pleas have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Courts of Common Pleas have original jurisdiction over felonies and civil cases in which the amount in controversy is more than $15,000. If the amount in controversy is less than $1,000, Courts of Common Pleas may transfer the case to Municipal Court. Courts of Common Pleas have exclusive jurisdiction over mental health, probate/estate, domestic relations, and juvenile cases.

Courts of Common Pleas may have separate divisions for general, domestic relations, probate, and juvenile cases. In many counties, divisions may be combined (for example, into a Probate-Juvenile Division).

The General Division in a Court of Common Pleas handles civil cases, criminal cases, and appeals from most administrative agencies.

The Domestic Relations Division handles cases that include divorce, child custody, and child support. In most counties, the Clerk of Courts is clerk of both the General Division and Domestic Relations Division

The Probate Division handles cases that include wills, estates, trusts, guardianships, mental illness, and adoptions. Probate Division judges serve as their own clerks. In many counties, the Probate Division is called Probate Court.

The Juvenile Division handles cases that include offenses involving minors (including juvenile traffic cases) and most paternity cases, and may share child custody and child support jurisdiction with the Domestic Relations Division. Juvenile Division judges serve as their own clerks. In many counties, the Juvenile Division is called Juvenile Court

Ohio County Courts

County Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases in territory that is not within the jurisdiction of a Municipal Court. If a Municipal Court's jurisdiction includes an entire county, there is no County Court in that county.

Criminal cases heard by County Courts include traffic and non-traffic misdemeanors, felony preliminary hearings, most violations of township resolutions, and some parking violations.

Civil cases heard by County Courts include most general civil claims for less than $15,000. County Courts have exclusive jurisdiction in cases involving less than $500, and original jurisdiction in cases where no party seeks more than $15,000.

Civil cases typically heard by County Courts include actions for the recovery of money or personal property, contract cases, judgment collection actions, interpleader, replevin, forcible entry and detainer, certain nuisance cases, certain types of cases that involve title or boundaries of real property, and temporary protection orders.

Each County Court has a small claims division, which hears civil cases for the recovery of $3,000 or less. Small claims divisions may be presided over by a magistrate appointed by the County Court.

County Courts share some jurisdiction with Mayor's Courts over violations of municipal ordinances and criminal traffic cases.

Ohio Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by Municipal Courts include traffic and non-traffic misdemeanors, felony preliminary hearings, most violations of township resolutions, violations of municipal ordinances, and some parking violations.

Civil cases heard by Municipal Courts include most general civil claims for less than $15,000. Municipal Courts have exclusive jurisdiction in cases involving less than $500, and original jurisdiction in cases where no party seeks more than $15,000.

Civil cases typically heard by Municipal Courts include actions for the recovery of money or personal property, contract cases, judgment collection actions, interpleader, replevin, forcible entry and detainer, certain nuisance cases, and temporary protection orders.

Each Municipal Court has a small claims division, which hears civil cases for the recovery of $3,000 or less. Small claims divisions may be presided over by a magistrate appointed by the Municipal Court.

Some Municipal Courts have Housing or Environmental divisions. These specialized divisions may hear some criminal cases and civil jurisdiction is not subject to financial limits. Environmental and Housing divisions of Municipal Courts also have greater jurisdiction over certain types of cases, including exclusive jurisdiction in some civil actions related to health and safety codes, ordinances, and regulations.

Ohio Mayor's Courts

Mayor's Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of criminal and quasi-criminal cases in territory that is not within the jurisdiction of a Municipal Court. If a Municipal Court has jurisdiction in any municipal corporation, there is no Mayor's Court in that municipality, except in Brown and Morrow Counties where the Georgetown and Mount Gilead Mayor's Courts share jurisdiction with county-wide Municipal Courts.

Cases heard by Mayor's Courts include violations of municipal ordinances, some criminal traffic cases including operating while under the influence, and some parking violations. Mayor's Courts share jurisdiction over these cases with County Courts.

Ohio Court of Claims

The Ohio Court of Claims has original jurisdiction over civil cases against the State of Ohio and its agencies.

Cases handled by the Court of Claims include contract disputes, property damage, personal injury, discrimination, and wrongful imprisonment.

The Court of Claims has a simplified administrative procedure for claims seeking less than $2,500. Claims related to the Victims of Crime Act are first heard by a panel of commissioners and can be appealed to the judge of the Court of Claims.

The Court of Claims handles cases for the entire state from one location in Columbus.

Ohio Court Notes

In several counties, the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas is also the clerk of the County Court and Municipal Courts.

Some counties have established specialized divisions in various courts, including Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts and Diversion programs.

Where to Find Court Cases in Ohio

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

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

Case Type Court Type
Civil Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases   Some Cases  
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases  
Small Claims   Some Cases Some Cases  
Civil Equity Most or All Cases Some Cases Some Cases  
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases      
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases  
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases Some Cases    
Landlord / Tenant Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations   Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Most or All Cases Some Cases Some Cases  
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases      
Criminal Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's Courts
Felony Most or All Cases      
Felony Preliminary Hearings Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases  
Misdemeanors Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases
Ordinance Violations   Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Juvenile Most or All Cases      
Traffic and Infractions   Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Domestic Relations Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's 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 Some Cases Some Cases  
Juvenile Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's 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 Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's Courts
Involuntary Commitments Most or All Cases      
Other Mental Health Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases Some Cases  
Probate Courts of Common Pleas County Courts Municipal Courts Mayor's 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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