Where to Find Indiana Civil Court Records
Indiana civil court records are legal documents containing details of civil court proceedings recorded within the state's borders. These records feature filing information, dockets, motions, court transcripts, and many more. Civil court records are typically created and disseminated by the court in which the cases were filed and heard. Statewide civil court records are provided by the Indiana public courts via my case search tool.
Are Indiana Civil Court Records Public?
As stated in the Indiana APRA (Access to Public Records Act), transcripts comprising court proceedings, decrees, and court motions are made available to all eligible members of the public. However, not every civil court document in Indiana is open to public scrutiny. Some records are deemed confidential by statute or court rule. As such, they are restricted to entitled persons such as:
- The record owner(s)
- Court-approved requesters
- Registrant-authorized requesters
- The plaintiff/defendant's legal representatives
- Approved law enforcement persons
Types of Cases in Indiana Civil Courts
Civil (non-criminal) cases are settled at the Indiana civil courts. The court deals with disputes among organizations (private and public-owned) and individuals. Generally, these cases get resolved through a court-ordered or privately agreed-upon settlement. The settlements are, most times, financial. Examples of these civil court cases are:
- Civil Tort (CT)
- Civil Plenary (CP)
- Civil Plenary (PL)
- Civil Collection (CC)
- Mortgage Foreclosure (MF)
- Miscellaneous (MI) such as name change, marriage waivers, and the appointment of appraisers
- Court Business Record (CB) such as the judicial appointments and drawing up of the jury
- Reciprocal Support (RS)
- Small Claim (SC)
- Domestic Related issues (DR) such as Marriage dissolution, Legal separations, Annulments, matters relating to children (DC) as well as issues unrelated to children (DN)
- Mental Health (MH)
- Expungement Petition (XP)
- Adoption (AD)
- Estate, Supervised (ES)
- Estate, Unsupervised (EU)
- Estate, Miscellaneous (EM)
- Guardianship (GU)
- Trust (TR)
- Juvenile CHINS (JC)
- Juvenile Delinquency (JD)
- Juvenile Status (JS)
- Juvenile Termination (JT) of Parental Rights
- Juvenile Paternity (JP)
- Juvenile Miscellaneous (JM)
- Order of Protection (PO)
- Application for Tax sale (TS) Judgments
- Petition for a tax deed Issuance (TP)
- Post-conviction relief petition (PC)
- Contract disputes and Property disputes
What is the Difference between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Indiana?
Criminal cases are regarded as offenses committed against the state of Indiana. They are considered particularly grievous and usually pertain to acts of violence. On the other hand, civil cases are those concerned with non-violent disputes among organizations, individuals, or institutions (private or public owned). Therefore, criminal cases are initiated by the state or the county government where the crime happened. However, civil cases are between private parties such as institutions and individuals.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Indiana?
Indiana civil court records are usually managed and disseminated by the Clerk of the courthouse, where the proceedings were heard. As such, these documents are obtainable in-person (through courthouse requests,) via mail or through online record requests. To request for Indiana civil court records in-person or via mail, interested and qualified parties should do the following:
Collect all information relevant to the case
Interested persons will need to present some information that will be required to facilitate the search. These details include:
- Record docket number or case file number
- The date the suit/complaint was filed
- Personal details of the defendant and plaintiff
- Names of the legal representatives.
Identify the Courthouse
Civil cases are usually tried by a civil court in the county where the dispute occurred, or the jurisdiction where the persons involved reside. The Indiana judicial system consists of two main levels: appellate courts and trial courts. The appellate-level courts include the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
Usually, the appellate courts only handle cases previously tried and heard in the Trial Courts. The trial court of general jurisdiction is the circuit court, located in all 90 counties in the State of Indiana. Requesters should query the circuit court in the county concerned to find the right court.
Once the appropriate court's location has been confirmed, the querying party will also have to identify the division where the case got filed. Although the Indiana civil court system varies across different jurisdictions, most civil courts are categorized into various divisions depending on the amount in the suit or claim.
Schedule a Visit to the Courthouse or Mail the Request
Most courthouses permit only in-person requests. Requesters should schedule their visit using the details provided on the respective webpages of the court. Also, these web pages contain the physical and mailing addresses of these courts as well as their phone numbers. Apart from providing some court case details to assist the record searches, visiting the concerned courthouse can also help cut record search and copy fees. On the website of the concerned court, requesters will be able to view the details necessary to prove their eligibility for the record. In-person requests get processed faster than the other modes of request.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
Indiana civil court records are obtainable through the internet using the electronic tools available on numerous court websites. Also, they can be gotten through government-approved third-party sites. However, certain restrictions are placed on Indiana civil court records on the web. Following the Indiana Rules on Access to court records (rule 5) below are examples of restricted court records that are not available on the internet:
- Documents disclosing information about a minor or juveniles
- Civil Court records detailing civil harassment proceedings
- Family-related case records such as adoptions, domestic violence suits, e.t.c.
- Civil court records on mental health (MH)
- Appeal cases about any of the above.
Indiana electronic court records can as well be restricted to requesters who meet specific criteria. Additional details regarding requirements for qualification and non-confidential case types are all accessible on the Access to court records (rule 5) and confidentiality file. To obtain these records through the internet, the interested party needs to find the trial court where the case was filed and their website. Interested persons can do this by using the Directory of Courts and Clerks in Indiana provided on the website of the Indiana Judiciary.
What Is Included In Indiana Civil Court Records?
Indiana civil court records have their differences; however, the documents all contain similar details. These documents vary based on the nature of the claim or suit and the county where the case was filed. Generally, civil court records comprise the details below:
- Private plaintiff/defendant information as well as those concerning the organizations involved.
- Restraining orders, arrest warrants, notice orders, court summons, and all necessary documents.
- Details about the claim, suit or complaint, and any amendment to the claim or complaint.
- The defendant's plea
- Affidavits, Filings, as well as evidence by either the defendant or plaintiff
- Transcripts of the trial, as well as oral arguments, motions, and appearances.
- The final decision and memorandum of decision.
- Settlements ordered by the court, agreements, and details of court-ordered rights.
How to Access Indiana Civil Court Records For Free
Every court case record available online is obtainable for free. However, some courts can charge individuals for expedited and copy requests. The self-service stations available at the courthouse can also be freely used by courthouse visitors. However, documents relating to witnesses and minors are normally prohibited from electronic access. To obtain these records, the requester must apply in-person to the approved custodian of these records.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in Indiana
Indiana civil court records may be deleted or sealed. This results in the restriction or destruction of the contents of the document. The state changed the expungement laws on July 1 last year. In Indiana, civil court records can be expunged depending on the case and the details of the incident. Under the new law, the documents that can be expunged in Indiana are protective order records, civil forfeiture documents, and specialized driving privilege documents. An individual can seek to seal a protective order record if:
- The appellate reversed the order
- The party who requested the order was absent from the hearing
- If a court denied the protective order petition
- If an order was given but was later terminated.
Generally, the court has the power to deny or grant a petition to seal a court record. Before sealing a record, a judge/court has to issue a subpoena or an order.
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Indiana.
Access to sealed civil court documents is usually denied. However to obtain a sealed record, the requester has to challenge the decision of the court. If the individual meets the criteria while challenging the order of the court, such an individual may be granted access.