| | Share

Flag of the State of Washington

The Guide to Washington Court Records


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.

Find court records by county Find court records by town or zip code Find court resources by category Find court records in other states
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.
 


 
Follow onlinesearches on Twitter

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
CivilSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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
   
CriminalSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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 RelationsSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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
 
JuvenileSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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 HealthSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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
  
ProbateSuperior CourtsDistrict CourtsMunicipal CourtsTraffic 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
   

Note: Some courts in Washington are not included in the chart above. Please use the following links for descriptions and types of cases heard:
 
  Toll Courts


© Online Searches 2008 - 2015. Your use of this site indicates agreement to the terms of use. - Contact us.
We strive to provide accurate information, however, Courtreference.com is not an official source of information for any court or court clerk.
No legal advice is offered here and this site is not an alternative to competent legal counsel.