The Guide to Washington Court Records

Overview of Washington Courts

The Washington trial court system consists of Superior Courts, District Courts, Municipal Courts, Traffic Violations Bureaus, and Toll Courts.
 
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all cases that are not within the exclusive jurisdiction of another court. District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil, criminal and traffic cases. All District Courts have a Small Claims department and some may have a Municipal department or a Violations Bureau. Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain criminal cases and most ordinance violation cases. Traffic Violations Bureaus are specialized municipal courts with limited jurisdiction over city ordinance violations. Toll Courts adjudicate contested civil penalties associated with unpaid toll fees.

Please select a Washington county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court.
Find Washington 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.
Washington Superior Courts
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, except when jurisdiction is limited by law or granted exclusively to another court. If no other court has jurisdiction over a particular case, it will likely be heard in Superior Court.

Superior Courts have original jurisdiction over felony criminal cases, misdemeanors that are not heard by District Court or Municipal Court, actions for forcible entry and detainer, insolvency proceedings, abatement or prevention of a nuisance, probate matters, divorce, annulment, and all other cases not exclusively assigned to another court.

Superior Courts have original jurisdiction over civil cases that involve a dispute over the title or possession of real property, or a question of the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, toll or municipal fine, and all other cases involving debts, damages or property valued in an amount beyond the limits of District Court jurisdiction. Superior Courts also hear naturalization cases, as well as habeas corpus, mandamus, and quo warranto cases.

Some Superior Courts have a separate Family Court department with jurisdiction over parenting plans, child custody, child visitation, child support, custodial interference, distribution of marital property and other domestic relations cases. Some Family Court departments also handle divorce or dissolution cases, and juvenile matters that overlap with other family-related cases. A few Family Court or Family and Juvenile Court departments regularly hear both family law and juvenile cases.

All Superior Courts, except those with a combined Family and Juvenile Court department, have a juvenile department or division with exclusive jurisdiction over most juvenile cases, including but not limited to juvenile delinquency, diversion, probation, detention, truancy, child dependency, termination of parental rights, and foster care. Programs and services for both juvenile offenders and non-offense juvenile matters are integrated, and may be referred to as Juvenile Services. Juvenile Courts share some jurisdiction over cases that overlap with Family Court jurisdiction.

Some traffic infractions by juveniles may be heard by District Courts and some delinquency cases may be transferred to the regular criminal division of the Superior Court for prosecution as an adult.

Superior Courts may have a Youth Court or Teen Court diversion program for juvenile offenders, in which other youth serve as jurors, judges, lawyers, and court personnel. Eligible cases include misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, civil and traffic infractions, and truancy.
Washington District Courts
District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil, criminal and traffic cases.

The criminal jurisdiction of a District Court includes misdemeanor criminal cases, gross misdemeanor criminal cases, preliminary hearings for all criminal cases, and traffic infractions. District Courts may also have jurisdiction over city ordinance violations under an "interlocal agreement" with a city that does not operate its own Municipal Court. These agreements may provide for a Municipal Court department in the District Court, or for municipal cases to be filed directly into District Court.

The civil jurisdiction of a District Court includes cases with amounts in dispute of less than $75,000, exclusive of interest, costs and fees. Civil cases heard by District Court include, but are not limited to: contract cases that seek the recovery of money, damages to a person, damages to personal property, damages to real property if no issues about title or possession are in dispute, actions for a penalty, and personal property fraud cases. Some civil cases may be transferred to Superior Court if necessary to assert jurisdiction over a third party or if a claim exceeds the limits on District Court jurisdiction.

All District Courts have a Small Claims department with jurisdiction over civil cases that qualify as small claims. Cases that involve less than $5,000 in dispute are generally considered small claims, if the case involves claims for the recovery of money and if the case meets all of the other requirements for small claims jurisdiction.

Other types of cases heard by District Courts include civil protection orders, domestic violence protection orders, name changes, vehicle impound cases, and cases assigned by another court.
Washington Municipal Courts
Municipal Court jurisdiction is limited to violations of city ordinances, and the enforcement or recovery of license penalties or forfeitures under those ordinances. Some Municipal Courts, as defined by statute, may hold preliminary hearings, set bail, and take recognizance on warrants issued by another District or Municipal Court.

Many cities do not operate a municipal court, but instead participate in an "interlocal agreement" with their county, under which the county's District Court handles municipal cases. In some of these agreements, the District Court has a separate Municipal Court department; in others, city cases are filed directly into District Court. Some cities participate in an interlocal agreement with a nearby city to provide municipal court services. If a city does not contract its municipal court services to a county or another city via an interlocal agreement, it must operate a municipal court.

Municipal Courts may have a Youth Court, Teen Court, or Student Court diversion program for juveniles age sixteen or seventeen, in which other youth serve as jurors, judges, lawyers, and court personnel in traffic infraction cases.
Washington Traffic Violations Bureaus
Traffic Violations Bureaus are city departments authorized by District or Municipal Courts to process the Court's traffic cases. Traffic Violations Bureaus accept fine payments, bail, and requests for mitigation hearings, contested hearings, and deferrals. Hearings and deferrals are heard in the authorizing District or Municipal Court.
Washington Toll Courts
Civil penalties associated with unpaid toll fees may be contested in writing or in person at one of two Toll Courts. Decisions made in a hearing by mail cannot be appealed. In person hearings may be requested by phone or in person at a Good To Go customer service center. An administrative judge reviews evidence presented by the Toll Enforcement Office and any evidence presented by the contestant; these judges are not authorized to offer reduced fees or settlements.
Washington Court Notes
Orders of Protection:

Superior Courts, District Courts and Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over Orders of Protection against domestic violence and harassment.

District Court and Municipal Court jurisdiction is sometimes limited to the issuance or enforcement of temporary orders of protection. If the District Court or Municipal Court only has jurisdiction over the temporary order of protection, the case will be transferred to Superior Court after the District Court or Municipal Court handles the requests related to the temporary order.

Superior Courts will handle trials for certain types of protection orders, including when another case is already pending between the parties in Superior Court, or if child custody or visitation is an issue, or if sole possession of a shared dwelling is requested.

Tribal Jurisdiction:

Federally-recognized Indian Tribes in Washington have their own Tribal Courts or participate in the Northwest Intertribal Court System. Tribal Courts have exclusive jurisdiction, or share jurisdiction with Superior Courts, over certain cases as defined by Federal law. When the courts share jurisdiction, cases may be transferred from Superior Court to the Tribal Court. Tribal Court orders may be enforced in Superior Court.

Therapeutic Courts:

Superior, District, and Municipal Courts may have specialized divisions or calendars such as Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts, Family Treatment Court, DUI Court, Domestic Violence Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Treatment Court. These "therapeutic" or "problem-solving" court programs can set up treatment in lieu of incarceration for some offenders with substance abuse and mental health problems.

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

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

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