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Finding Court Records in Illinois

Illinois Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Illinois state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Illinois trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, Administrative Adjudication, and Court of Claims.

Illinois has a unified trial court system with Circuit Courts exercising general jurisdiction over most cases. Certain cases involving the State of Illinois are heard by the Court of Claims. Some cities and towns operate municipal courts that hear ordinance violation cases.

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

Illinois Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, with the exception of cases heard exclusively by the Court of Claims or the Illinois Supreme Court.

Circuit Courts may be organized into divisions or departments based on case type, such as civil, criminal, probate, traffic, domestic relations, and juvenile. Some Circuit Courts may have specialized "Problem Solving Court" programs such as Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Court, which can set up treatment in lieu of incarceration for some offenders.

Circuit Courts offer a simplified Small Claims procedure for most civil cases that involve $10,000 or less in dispute.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with the Illinois Supreme Court over cases related to revenue, mandamus prohibition and habeas corpus, but if the Supreme Court accepts jurisdiction over a particular case, a Circuit Court cannot. In addition, Circuit Courts may not hear cases related to General Assembly redistricting or cases related to the ability of the Governor to serve in or resume office.

Illinois Administrative Adjudication

Many cities, towns, and villages in Illinois have an administrative body that handles ordinance violation cases. These may be called administrative adjudication systems, administrative hearing offices, adjudication courts, municipal courts, and similar designations.

Examples of ordinance violations that may be heard include local traffic tickets, parking tickets, red light camera tickets, disorderly conduct, curfew violations, pet violations, nuisances, property maintenance violations, zoning and building code violations, derelict vehicles, littering, and alcohol and tobacco violations. Rock Island County's Municipal Code Enforcement System is county-wide.

Violations of a state law, such as a speeding ticket, are normally adjudicated in the county's Circuit Court, with a few exceptions. For example, City of Madison Municipal Court handles some state law violations, such as shoplifting, assault, and possession of drug paraphernalia; Fox Lake's Adjudication Court handles some violations of state motor vehicle laws.

These cases are considered to be civil, not criminal in nature. There is no right to a jury or to an attorney, although defendants may choose to hire and be represented by an attorney. The presiding officer may be called a Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge. Decisions may be appealed to the county's Circuit Court.

Illinois Court of Claims

The Court of Claims has statewide jurisdiction and offices in Springfield and Chicago. The Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over many types of civil cases involving the State of Illinois.

Cases heard by the Court of Claims include contract disputes, certain torts, some claims for time unjustly served in prison, all claims for recoupment made by the State against any claimant, and most claims against the State based on Illinois law or regulation.

The Court of Claims handles most claims based on the Line of Duty Act, the Crime Victims Compensation Act and the Illinois National Guardsman's Compensation Act.

Where to Find Court Cases in Illinois

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

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

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