Where to Find Arizona Civil Court Records
Arizona civil court records consist of all official information associated with civil cases filed in the state courts. These records are generated from the initiation of a civil court case to the resolution of the case. In Arizona, they are maintained by the clerk of the applicable courthouse. While Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over civil matters, Justice Courts have limited jurisdiction in the state, and Municipal courts try fewer cases like a violation of municipal ordinances. Third-party aggregate sites such as ArizonaCourtRecords.Us can provide access to records to eligible and interested members of the public.
Are Arizona Civil Court Records Public?
Civil court records may be confidential or non-confidential. Non-confidential civil court records are accessible to members of the public under the Arizona Public Records Law. Interested parties have a right to inspect them and make copies. Such non-confidential records include written or audio/video recordings of hearings, court dispositions, judgments, and other court proceedings. Some information contained in a civil case may be kept from public view to protect the interests of the persons involved. Minors and all information relating to them, such as their address, educational data, and other details are kept confidential by default in Arizona civil case records. Such records are available to selected eligible persons who usually include the person listed in the record (18 years and above), persons with an authorized release from the bearer of the records, their attorneys, court-authorized persons, and delegated law enforcement agents.
Types of Cases in Arizona Civil Courts
Civil cases are often cases between persons or private agencies. Most of them usually have out-of-court-settlement options, which, when unsuccessful, are brought to the court for the hearing. In Arizona, civil cases heard by the trial courts include:
- General civil cases- limited and unlimited
- Small claims and civil equities
- Foreclosures and liens
- landlord/ tenant disputes
- Violation of municipal or county ordinances
- Real estate title and boundary disputes
- Appeals from administrative agencies
- Protection and restraining orders
- Child custody and other domestic relations
- Contract Disputes and Property Disputes
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Arizona?
Criminal cases differ from civil lawsuits in many ways:
- While civil cases involve disputes between persons or establishments, criminal cases are violations against the state.
- Civil cases are heard at the instance of the plaintiff filing a suit. On the other hand, criminal cases are filed in the court irrespective of the complainant's decision to file a lawsuit.
- Civil cases are heard to correct wrongs between persons or agencies in dispute. In contrast, criminal cases are tried to inflict punishment on the offender and protect the community from further violence.
- Penalties for criminal cases are a lot stiffer than civil penalties and are often designed to be punitive.
- Civil cases go through a much simpler process than criminal cases. Criminal cases undergo a much more thorough and rigorous process to ensure that the trial's outcome proves the suspect beyond any reasonable doubt to be the offender.
- Civil cases laws are based on human rights, while criminal cases are based on societal moral values.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Arizona?
Civil court records in Arizona can be found at the courthouse's office, where the records were generated. The court clerk or records manager is the official staff responsible for keeping the records. Requests can be made by visiting the courthouse of interest, sending a written request by mail, or by accessing the records online. If a court record is not available at the courthouse, check the date the document was filed. Records of cases older than 50 years are moved to the Arizona State Library, Archives,& Public Records office located at:
Records Management Center
Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building
1901 W. Madison Street
Phoenix, AZ 85009
In-person visits are strictly based on appointment. Call the center at (602) 926-3720 to schedule an appointment or obtain information about requesting a record.
Follow the steps below to initiate an in-person request or a mailed request:
Assemble relevant information
Have all the necessary information for requesting a record ready:
- The case file number or docket number
- The date the case was filed
- The name of the one or both parties involved in the case
- The legal authorities and representatives of the persons involved in the case. It may the name of the presiding judge or the attorneys of the parties involved
Determine the court of interest
There are more than one trial court that handles civil cases in Arizona. Civil cases are handled at Superior Courts, Justice Courts, and a few at Municipal Courts. Appeal civil cases from the Superior Court are also heard at the State Court of Appeals. Find out which court tried the case of interest. Usually, the court that handles the case is located in the county or judicial district where the involved parties are residents. Use the List of Superior Courts in Arizona to determine the address of the Superior Courthouse of interest. Otherwise, use the Courtlocator to get the addresses of other courts in the state.
Visit the courthouse in person or send a request by mail
In Arizona, eligible requesters can visit the applicable courthouse to inspect or copy records. Some counties have websites from which the location address can be obtained. These sites also have postal addresses to which mail requests can be sent. Most records are available for inspection at no fee. Copying records may attract a fee that is equivalent to the costs of processing a copy. There is no fixed fee; rather, it depends on the type of the record, the labor involved in the search, and the volume of documents to be copied. If the record of interest is located at a Superior Courthouse office, use the Superior Court Fee Schedule to obtain a fair estimate of the charges involved in getting copies of records. Note that in-person requests are usually given priority. It is because all clarification concerning the request is done in the presence of the requester. Another advantage is that more payment options are available- cash, money order, checks, or credit/debit card options. Mailed requests, on the other hand, have limited payment options. For example, cash payments are not accepted for mail requests. Also, mail requests require more information that will aid the review of the request for processing. Incomplete requirements may delay or deny the processing of requests.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
Superior Courts in large counties such as Phoenix and Maricopa run online access to court information. Others are restricted to in-person and mailed requests. Confirm with the local courthouse clerk if online access is available.
The Arizona Judicial Branch provides the public with online access to court case information from 177 out of 184 courts in Arizona. Here is the list of courts in the state with unavailable online access. Cases excluded from online access include:
- Cases sealed by court order
- Unsevered orders of protection
- Probate cases
- Mental health records
- Information about victims and witnesses
- Juvenile delinquency case information (this does not include juvenile traffic violation)
- Records of local ordinance violations
Also, note that the information available at the site may not represent the full account of the case.
Use the Az CourtHelp or the Court Locator tool to locate the court of interest and find case information on the Arizona Judicial Branch website. All online searches are conducted at a fee. Also, eAccess is a user-friendly resource tool provided by the Supreme Court of the state. Here, cases are limited to Supreme Court and Superior Court cases. eAccess allows inquirers to look up case information remotely on a 24hourly basis for a fee. To search for a record, have the names of the persons listed in the record, case information ID, and the court where the case was heard. Again, not all counties provide online information for the database. Use the list of superior courts to determine which court has online information on the database.
What Is Included In an Arizona Civil Court Record?
The contents of a civil court record vary with the type of case. However, there are essential features of a civil court record. The jurisdiction handling the case also reflects in the contents of a record. Contents of a civil court record in a Justice Court will vary from that of a Superior Court. It also depends on the presence of adjacent issues to the case.
- Copy of a complaint form filed with the court
- Receipt of filing fees
- Copy of service of summons
- Court orders such as restraining orders, arrest warrants, protection orders, etc.
- Court dockets (containing trial transcripts and court schedules on the case)
- Reports of "discovery" of evidence- Arizona courts allow a pretrial period for some civil cases.
- Copies of notices, affidavits, and evidence presented by both parties
- Court judgments and closure statements
- Executable court orders arising from court sentences
- Personal information about the parties involved
How to Access Arizona Civil Court Records For Free
As with all court records accessible to the public, civil court records can be viewed for free at the courthouses where the case was filed or heard. Copying of records may or may not attract fees depending on the type of record requested. Online access is available upon the payment of a search fee for persons with a compatible device and an internet connection.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in Arizona
In Arizona, a party involved in a civil case may file a petition to seal the court record. The petition is scheduled for a hearing. During the hearing session, the judge decides based on the reasons put forward by the petitioner whether or not to grant the request. If the basis for the request is deemed plausible under the provisions of the law for sealing records, the judge issues a court order to have the document sealed. Confidential documents are not to be released by court staff to any public member without express permission through court order or executive order. Other eligible persons are the involved parties, their legal representatives on the case, and authorized court staff.
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Arizona
Sealed civil court records are not released for viewing or copying by members of the public. To access a sealed record, an inquirer must file a petition to the sealing court to challenge the order. The petition is also scheduled for a court hearing. If the petition has merit, the judge issues a court order allowing the individual to access the sealed record. The issued order could be in the form of an authorization permit or a subpoena. Only persons with any of the two documents will be granted access. Note that delegates of the law enforcement agencies have access to sealed documents solely to execute official orders.