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The Guide to Rhode Island Court Records


The Rhode Island trial court system consists of Superior Courts, District Courts, Family Courts, Probate Courts, Municipal Courts, Traffic Tribunals, and Workers' Compensation Court.
 
Rhode Island has a state trial court system and some local courts operated by municipalities. The state trial court system consists of Superior Courts, Family Courts, District Courts, Traffic Tribunal Courts and the Workers' Compensation Court. Municipal Courts and Probate Courts are local courts.

Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all types of civil and criminal cases, but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Family Courts, District Courts, Traffic Tribunals, Municipal Courts and Probate Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases. The Workers' Compensation Court is a specialized court that handles certain types of civil cases for the entire state from one main location.

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Please select a Rhode Island county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court. Find Rhode Island 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.
 


 
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Rhode Island Superior Courts

Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and typically handles cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Criminal cases heard by Superior Courts include felonies and some misdemeanors, Superior Courts handle misdemeanor criminal cases when a right to a jury trial is invoked.

Civil cases heard by Superior Courts include general civil claims for more than $10,000. Superior Courts share original jurisdiction with District Courts over most general civil claims for more than $5,000 and less than $10,000. Superior Courts also handle most civil cases with disputes over rights, interests and title to real estate. Superior Courts also exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over most equity cases. Superior Courts also handle cases involving access to public records.

Superior Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over certain types of trusts and name changes of adults convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Superior Courts also handle some probate matters related to equity cases.

A Superior Court may have a specialized Gun Court division for gun-related crimes, including criminal gun possession and use of a firearm in a crime.

Superior Courts may have an Adult Drug Court division for eligible criminal cases that involve alcohol or drug-related offenses and other nonviolent offenses when the defendant uses or has a dependency on alcohol or drugs.

Rhode Island District Courts

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

Criminal cases heard by District Courts include misdemeanors when the right to a jury trial has been waived, and municipal ordinance violations.

District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over most general civil claims for less than less than $5,000, certain landlord-tenant cases and replevin cases with personal property valued at less than $5,000. District Courts share jurisdiction with Superior Courts for most general civil claims for more than $5,000 and less than $10,000. District Courts also handle violations of housing codes, if no Municipal Court has jurisdiction over the violation.

District Courts also handle domestic violence protective orders, involuntary hospitalization and some administrative agency appeals.

District Courts each have a Small Claims Court division for some general civil claims for less than $2,500, exclusive of interest and costs.

A program to provide support for offender veterans is available in District Court. The Veterans Treatment Court can divert veterans diagnosed with trauma related disorders away from incarceration by offering rehabilitative alternatives, including treatment and social services.

Rhode Island Family Courts

Family Courts have jurisdiction over domestic relations, juvenile matters, some criminal cases and a few types of civil cases.

Domestic Relations cases heard by Family Courts include divorce and legal separation, child custody, child visitation, child support, division of property, alimony and paternity.

Juvenile cases heard by Family Courts include juvenile delinquency, child neglect, child abuse and adoptions of minors.

Criminal cases heard by Family Courts include abandonment, desertion, neglect, threats against immediate family members and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Family Courts have some jurisdiction over certain administrative agency appeals, including certain income tax setoffs and interception of assets for past due child support. Family Courts also handle civil cases involving the regulation of child care providers and child placing agencies.

Family Courts may have specialized court divisions to handle certain types of cases more efficiently or provide alternatives to the regular adversarial system. These specialized divisions may include Domestic Violence Court, Family Treatment Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Re-entry Court and Truancy Court.

Rhode Island Probate Courts

Probate Courts have jurisdiction over probate matters, including the probate of wills, administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, certain matters related to certain trusts, adoptions of adults and name changes. Probate Court has some jurisdiction over equity claims related to probate matters.

Probate Courts share jurisdiction with Superior Courts over cases involving trustees of certain types of trusts, name changes of adults convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, and probate matters related to Superior Court cases.

Rhode Island Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts handle most municipal ordinance violations.

Cases heard by Municipal Courts include traffic violations, and Municipal Courts have some exclusive jurisdiction over some traffic cases. Municipal Courts will not handle cases that are within the exclusive jurisdiction of a Traffic Tribunal.

Municipal Courts also handle violations of local housing or zoning ordinances, including requests for certain injunctions.

A Municipal Court may be referred to as a Police Court in some town and cities.

Rhode Island Traffic Tribunals

Traffic Tribunals have exclusive jurisdiction over most violations of state law related to motor vehicles, littering or traffic offenses.

Traffic Tribunals do not have jurisdiction over certain types of motor vehicle cases, including crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury, crimes related to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, crimes related to high-speed attempts to elude law enforcement, crimes related to driving without a valid license and crimes related to possession of stolen vehicles.

Traffic Tribunals have exclusive jurisdiction over violations of city or town traffic ordinances if a Municipal Court does not have jurisdiction.

Traffic Tribunals share jurisdiction over violations of boating and public water ordinances referred by a harbormaster.

Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court

The Workers' Compensation Court is a specialized court that handles cases for the entire state from one office location.

The Workers' Compensation Court handles certain types of civil cases, including disputes between employees and employers about workers compensation benefits, the rehabilitation of injured employees and disputes between employers and compensation insurers.

Where to find court cases in Rhode Island

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

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

Case Type Court Type
CivilSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
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
 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 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
 Most or all 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 Family 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 Superior Courts
 Most or all 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
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Traffic Tribunals
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders
 Some Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Superior Courts
 Some Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the District Courts
 Most or all Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Administrative Agency Appeals
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Superior Courts
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the District Courts
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
CriminalSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
Felony
 Most or all Felony cases can be found in the Superior 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
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Family Courts
  
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Traffic Tribunals
Ordinance Violations 
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the District Courts
  
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Traffic Tribunals
Juvenile  
 Most or all Juvenile cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Traffic and Infractions 
 Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the District Courts
  
 Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
 Most or all Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Traffic Tribunals
Domestic RelationsSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
Divorce  
 Most or all Divorce cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Child Custody and Visitation  
 Most or all Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Child Support  
 Most or all Child Support cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Paternity  
 Most or all Paternity cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Domestic Violence Protection Order
 Some Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Superior Courts
 Some Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the District Courts
 Most or all Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
JuvenileSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
Adoptions  
 Most or all Adoptions cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Adoptions cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Juvenile Delinquency  
 Most or all Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Child Abuse and Neglect  
 Most or all Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Termination of Parental Rights  
 Most or all Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Children in Need of Supervision  
 Most or all Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Mental HealthSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
Involuntary Commitments 
 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 District Courts
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
ProbateSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic Tribunals
Wills & Estates
 Some Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Superior Courts
  
 Some Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Name Changes
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Superior Courts
 
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Trusts
 Some Trusts cases can be found in the Superior Courts
  
 Some Trusts cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Guardianships and Conservatorships
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Superior Courts
 
 Most or all Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  

Note: Some courts in Rhode Island are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
 
  Workers' Compensation Court


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