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Finding Court Records in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Wisconsin state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Wisconsin trial court system consists of Circuit Courts and Municipal Courts.

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but typically will not handle cases that are within the jurisdiction of Municipal Courts. Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over most municipal ordinance violations.

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

Wisconsin Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases, but typically handle cases beyond Municipal Court jurisdiction. All jury trials are heard in Circuit Courts.

Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all criminal cases. Circuit Courts typically do not handle ordinance violations within the jurisdiction of a Municipal Court.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil claims, civil equity cases, domestic relations, probate matters and most juvenile cases.

Wisconsin Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over most ordinance violations. Cases typically handled by Municipal Courts include traffic violations, ordinance violations and non-jury trials for first offense drunk driving.

Municipal Courts also handle some juvenile cases, including truancy, alcohol violations, drug offenses and curfew violations. Municipal Courts do not offer jury trials and cases with proper requests are transferred to Circuit Courts. Municipal Courts do not have jurisdiction over cases requesting equitable relief.

Ordinance violations are heard by Circuit Courts in areas without Municipal Courts.

Wisconsin Court Notes

Wisconsin is in the process of developing several "problem solving" court programs to handle certain types of cases, including drug treatment courts, mental health treatment courts, specialized juvenile courts, domestic violence courts, and offender reentry courts.

These programs operate as specialized programs of Circuit Courts.

Where to Find Court Cases in Wisconsin

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

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

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Courts Municipal Courts
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 Some Cases Some Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Most or All Cases  
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases  
Criminal Circuit Courts Municipal Courts
Felony Most or All Cases  
Felony Preliminary Hearings Most or All Cases  
Misdemeanors Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Some Cases
Juvenile Most or All Cases Some Cases
Traffic and Infractions Some Cases Some Cases
Domestic Relations Circuit Courts Municipal 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  
Juvenile Circuit Courts Municipal Courts
Adoptions Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Delinquency Most or All Cases Some 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 Municipal Courts
Involuntary Commitments Most or All Cases  
Other Mental Health Cases Most or All Cases  
Probate Circuit Courts Municipal 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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