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Delaware Court Records

Delaware Court Records are documents created during a legal case in state courts. They comprise various types of files, such as the initial complaint, court orders, transcripts of proceedings, judgments, and other case-related documents. They can provide information on the parties involved in a case, court dates, docket numbers, and the outcomes of cases.

These records play a critical role in society. They offer transparency and accountability in the judicial system, allowing the public to observe the functioning of the courts. They also serve as valuable resources for legal research and historical record keeping.

The Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits public access to these records. According to this law, every document collected or compiled by government entities, including courts, is considered a public record. It means that anyone can inspect or replicate these documents.

However, there are exemptions to the FOIA. If a document is sealed or expunged by a court order or exempted by state statute, it's not publicly available.

Such exemptions often include medical records, personnel records, trade secrets, and records of potential litigations that haven't yet been filed with any court. These exceptions protect individual privacy and the integrity of ongoing legal proceedings.

Which Delaware Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

For those seeking court records in Delaware, it's crucial to grasp the workings of the state's court system. The Delaware trial court system is the chief holder of records open to public access. This system comprises various courts, which primarily include the following:

Delaware Superior Courts

Delaware Superior Courts are vital components of the state's judicial system. They have broad jurisdiction, meaning they have the power to hear and decide on various civil and criminal cases. Except for equity cases, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, Superior Courts can address all types of disputes.

Typically, they deal with cases beyond other courts' capabilities. They are in charge of serious criminal offenses like felonies and drug-related crimes. Additionally, they can handle civil cases without limits on the disputed monetary value. Furthermore, they can review and rule on some decisions made by administrative agencies.

However, certain types of cases do not fall under their jurisdiction. They generally do not oversee cases related to equity (matters of fairness), probate (issues concerning wills and estates), or domestic relations (family-related issues).

Delaware Courts of Chancery

Delaware Courts of Chancery primarily handle complex commercial disputes and most probate cases, which deal with matters of wills and estates.

The unique jurisdiction of the Courts of Chancery extends to equity cases. These are cases where existing common laws or statutes cannot provide a satisfactory solution. Equity cases are typically focused on fairness and justice rather than the strict application of the law.

Common cases managed by the Courts of Chancery encompass a wide array of matters. These include:

  • Corporate issues
  • Trusts
  • Estate disputes
  • Fiduciary matters
  • Land purchases
  • Ownership disagreements
  • Commercial contracts
  • Certain types of technology and business disputes
  • Disputes involving deed covenants or restrictions

Delaware Courts of Common Pleas

Delaware Courts of Common Pleas handle certain types of civil and criminal cases.

They deal with most minor criminal cases and first hearings in severe criminal cases. However, they can't hear some drug-related and traffic offenses.

In civil cases, they handle disputes involving less than $50,000. They can also deal with claims made by other parties involved in a suit and can order payment of more than $50,000 on these claims.

They can handle any case given to them by a Superior Court. But there are no jury trials in Courts of Common Pleas. If anyone other than the person who started the case asks for a jury trial, the lawsuit will be moved to a Superior Court.

Delaware Family Courts

Delaware Family Courts primarily hear family and juvenile-related matters, which may include certain criminal cases.

In civil cases, these courts oversee matters such as the following:

  • Divorce
  • Annulment
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Visitation
  • Most juvenile delinquency issues
  • Family abuse prevention cases
  • Child neglect
  • Specific disability rights enforcement
  • Division of shared real property among individuals no longer married

Family Courts in Delaware also address a range of criminal cases. These involve:

  • Misdemeanors committed against a child
  • Non-felony offenses perpetrated by one family member against another
  • Crimes committed against a peace officer during a family dispute
  • Violations of protective orders
  • Child sexual assault
  • Interference with custody
  • Failure to provide child support
  • Selling or delivering alcohol or weapons to a minor

However, the jurisdiction of Family Courts is not absolute. They are not empowered to handle criminal cases associated with serious crimes (felonies), adults accused of felonies, or juveniles charged with certain severe offenses.

Lastly, Family Courts have concurrent authority with Justice of the Peace Courts when dealing with alleged curfew violations arising from municipal ordinances.

Delaware Justice of the Peace Courts

Delaware Justice of the Peace Courts are integral parts of the state's judicial system with limited jurisdiction to oversee certain civil, criminal, and juvenile cases.

In criminal proceedings, these courts handle specific misdemeanors, most non-felony motor vehicle offenses, and preliminary hearings for all crimes.

In terms of civil cases, they have Small Claims Court Divisions, which deal with minor financial disputes. They handle cases where the money involved is $25,000 or less. Some of the cases these divisions adjudicate include issues related to contracts, torts, damage to or theft of personal property, trespassing, and landlord-tenant disputes.

A noteworthy feature is that these courts share jurisdiction with Family Courts over violations of municipal curfew ordinances and certain truancy cases. This shared authority ensures that family and juvenile law matters can be effectively handled within the state's judicial system.

In addition to the trial courts, the Delaware court system includes the Supreme Court.

The Delaware Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. It reviews cases from the Superior Court, Court of Chancery, and Family Court. This Supreme Court handles appeals in civil lawsuits, decisions from lower courts, and criminal cases where the punishment is above a specific limit.

Furthermore, the Delaware Supreme Court can oversee and distribute certain Delaware Court Records.

What are the Common Public Court Records in Delaware?

Public court records in Delaware encompass a wide array of documents that provide transparency and insight into the workings of the state's judicial system. Below are the most commonly requested and publicly accessible court records in Delaware.

Delaware Civil and Small Claims Records

Delaware Civil Court Records and Delaware Small Claims Court Records are integral parts of the state's judicial system, each serving distinct functions related to civil litigation.

Civil Court Records in Delaware involve information regarding the legal procedures and judgments made by the Civil Court Divisions in the state court system of Delaware. Civil Courts in Delaware handle a wide variety of non-criminal cases that include but are not limited to tort cases, contract disputes, and real property conflicts.

The documentation contained within Delaware Civil Court Records may include initial complaints, pleadings and motions, court orders, evidence submitted, transcripts of the court proceedings, judgments, and other related legal documents.

It also includes the parties' particulars, such as their names, legal representation, the presiding judge, and the final verdict.

On the other hand, Delaware Small Claims Court Records relate to the Small Claims Division, specifically designed to handle disputes over smaller amounts of money, typically $25,000 or less.

The Small Claims Court provides a streamlined, less formal, and less expensive alternative for resolving minor disputes such as debt actions, damages to property, replevin actions, and landlord-tenant disputes.

Delaware Small Claims Court Records generally include the claim forms or complaints, responses from the defendant, any evidence presented, the judgment of the court, and details of any subsequent appeals or enforcement actions. These records often involve individual litigants, though businesses can also use the Small Claims Court to settle minor disputes.

Regarding the court responsible for each record, Delaware Civil Court Records are managed by the Delaware Superior Court or the Court of Common Pleas, depending on the nature and the claim's value. Meanwhile, the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court oversees the Small Claims Division and is responsible for maintaining Delaware Small Claims Court Records.

How To Access Delaware Civil and Small Claims Records

Individuals can visit the courthouses and request the documents in person to access Delaware Civil Court Records and Delaware Small Claims Court Records.

For civil court records, visit the Delaware Superior Court or the Court of Common Pleas, while for small claims court records, go to the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court handling the specific case.

One can use the Superior Court Locations, Court of Common Pleas Locations, and Justice of the Peace Court Locations directories on the official Delaware Courts Judicial Branch (DCJB) website to locate the appropriate court.

At the courthouse, inquire at the court clerk's office to access the records, providing relevant case information, such as the case number, names of the parties involved, or the approximate date of the proceedings, for efficient retrieval.

Alternatively, individuals can submit a written request to the respective courthouse. The request should include the same information above and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

When requesting these records, there may be fees associated, which can vary depending on the court and the requested record type.

Delaware Criminal Records

Delaware Criminal Records refer to official records maintained by law enforcement agencies and the court system in the state. These records document the criminal history of individuals involved in illegal activities within the jurisdiction of Delaware.

The information contained in Delaware Criminal Records can vary depending on the specific case and the level of detail provided. But typically, these records include:

  • Full name, aliases, date of birth, gender, race, and physical description
  • Information on the arrest, including the arresting agency, date, location, and reason for arrest
  • Information about the charges filed against the individual, including the nature of the offense, the degree of severity, and the corresponding statute
  • Information about court appearances, dates, and outcomes of hearings and trials (information on guilty pleas, convictions, acquittals, and sentencing)

Criminal records in Delaware serve multiple purposes, including facilitating background checks for employers and landlords to evaluate the trustworthiness and potential risks. They also contribute to public safety by making individuals aware of potential threats from someone's criminal past.

In legal proceedings, these records are crucial for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to assess witness credibility, evaluate prior convictions, determine sentencing, establish behavior patterns, and provide evidence during court proceedings.

How To Obtain Criminal Records in Delaware

Obtaining criminal records in Delaware requires individuals to follow a specific process. The responsibility of providing certified criminal records to requestors falls under the  State Bureau of Identification (SBI) purview.

Individuals must submit the subject's fingerprint card to the SBI to perform a criminal record search. Additionally, requestors must present valid photo identification from any state, such as a driver's license or state ID.

Note that the SBI charges a criminal background check fee. Requestors have various options to settle the payment, including cash, credit or debit cards, money orders, or certified checks. When making the payment, make sure it is payable to the Delaware State Police (DSP).

While there may be some free criminal records accessible, the information contained within them might be limited or incomplete. Therefore, individuals seeking comprehensive and accurate criminal records must go through the official process outlined by the SBI.

Delaware Traffic Records

Delaware Traffic Records refer to official documents that contain comprehensive information about the traffic and driving history of individuals in the state.

These records encompass numerous details, including traffic tickets, traffic accidents, violations, convictions, sentences, and license information. Various government agencies, including the Delaware courts and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), create and maintain them.

Although the general public can access these Delaware Court Records, certain drivers' personal information may be redacted or kept private according to Title 21, Section 305 of the Delaware Code.

This confidential information pertains to any personal details that can be used to identify an individual. Examples of such information include their name, photograph, address, social security number, telephone number, and medical or disability information.

How To Access Delaware Traffic Records

Accessing Delaware Traffic Records is a straightforward process that allows individuals to obtain information about their driving history or request records for someone else. Interested parties can approach the DMV to initiate the procedure.

They can conveniently purchase a copy of their driving record by logging into their "myDMV" account for online requests on the official DMV website. Payment for the record can be made using major credit or debit cards. If an individual does not have an existing "myDMV" account, they can create one easily on the website to proceed with the request.

Alternatively, individuals can opt for an in-person request by visiting any DMV office. At the office, they can specify whether they require a three-year, five-year, or full driving record and complete the necessary formalities to obtain the desired document.

Those preferring to request by mail must complete a Personal Information Release Form and have it notarized with a seal or stamp. The completed form, along with a stamped and self-addressed envelope, must be sent to the DMV's designated mailing address provided in the form.

When requesting someone else's driving records, explicit written consent from the record holder is required to access specific personal information. Requestors must include a completed personal information release form duly signed by the record holder and their request.

In addition, note that access to the Delaware Traffic Records may incur a fee, which varies depending on the type of record requested (three-year, five-year, or full record).

Delaware Probate Records

Delaware Probate Records refer to the documents and records associated with the legal process of handling the estate of a deceased person, commonly known as probate.

These records provide a comprehensive and formal account of the administration of an individual's estate, including the distribution of assets, settlement of debts, and resolution of any disputes or claims. They are an essential resource for individuals, legal professionals, and researchers interested in genealogy, property ownership, and estate planning.

The probate records in Delaware typically include various legal documents and information, such as:

  • Wills
  • Inventories of assets
  • Petitions
  • Court orders
  • Letters of administration or testamentary
  • Information about the deceased person's heirs, beneficiaries, executors, and others involved in the probate process
  • Details about guardianship matters, trusts, and any disputes related to the estate

Researchers and individuals interested in obtaining Delaware Probate Records can submit their access requests through the Delaware Court of Chancery, wherein the appropriate Delaware Chancery Court location can accommodate the submission of such requests.

Additionally, the Delaware Public Archives provide access to specific probate records. To obtain a copy of an original probate record, individuals can email, providing all relevant information related to the particular record they seek.

Suppose individuals prefer to view the probate document in person. In that case, they are advised to bring all the information relating to the specific record when visiting the Research Room at the Delaware Public Archives.

Apart from the Delaware Court of Chancery and the Delaware Public Archives, individuals seeking probate records may consider contacting the Register of Wills in the respective county where the probate proceedings occurred.

By contacting or visiting the website of the Register of Wills in the specific county, individuals can inquire about the availability and accessibility of probate records for their research purposes.

Delaware Family Records

Delaware Family Records document cases handled by the Family Courts of Delaware, which address legal matters concerning families and domestic relations.

These records offer a comprehensive view of legal proceedings, decisions, and outcomes related to various family law issues such as divorce, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, guardianship, and juvenile delinquency.

They serve as valuable resources for individuals involved in these cases, legal professionals, and researchers seeking information on family law matters and the workings of the Family Court system in Delaware.

Requesters can apply for viewing or obtaining copies of the records at the Delaware Family Court Locations. For more detailed guidelines and instructions on accessing these records, interested parties can refer to the "Records Access in the Family Court" page on the official website of the DCJB.

It is worth noting that while access to Delaware Family Court Records may be available, certain sensitive information, particularly personally identifiable information, may be subject to restrictions to protect the privacy and well-being of the individuals involved, especially in cases concerning minors or highly sensitive matters.

Delaware Bankruptcy Records

The state trial courts are responsible for maintaining most Delaware Court Records. However, when it comes to bankruptcy filings and associated records, this responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, which operates as part of the federal court system.

Delaware Bankruptcy Records encompass the financial records and pertinent information of businesses or individuals who have filed for bankruptcy. These records contribute to the transparency of the bankruptcy process in the state, ensuring accountability and providing historical and statistical data for analysis and research purposes.

Bankruptcy records in Delaware typically include the following details:

  • The debtor's name, whether it is a company or an individual in debt
  • The date of the bankruptcy filing
  • The type of bankruptcy filed (Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, etc.)
  • The assigned case number and current status of the bankruptcy case
  • Gross income and sources of income for the debtor
  • Detailed information about assets the debtor owns
  • A comprehensive list of creditors
  • Contact information and address details of each creditor
  • The specific amount owed to each creditor
  • The name of the bankruptcy judge who presided over the case
  • The name of the trustee appointed by the judge
  • Brief information on the attorney representing the debtor

According to 11 USC. Section 107 of the Bankruptcy Code, Delaware Bankruptcy Records are public records. As such, they are accessible to and can be copied by the general public, allowing individuals to review and obtain information regarding bankruptcy cases.

How To Obtain Bankruptcy Records in Delaware

Multiple methods exist for individuals seeking bankruptcy records in Delaware.

One way to obtain bankruptcy records is by visiting the court clerk's office in Wilmington. Interested individuals can directly interact with the clerk's office staff, who can guide and assist throughout the process.

Another option is to use the Electronic Public Access Terminal available at the courthouse. By utilizing this terminal, individuals can access bankruptcy records on-site.

For those who prefer to submit a request in writing, the bankruptcy court clerk's office accepts written requests for bankruptcy records. Individuals must specify the documents they need and the number of copies desired. Call the court clerk's office at 302-252-2900 for additional requirements or information.

For online resources, the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system allows individuals to access bankruptcy records and related documents remotely. However, utilizing this system requires following the specific guidelines the clerk's office provides to ensure a successful search for records.

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system is an additional online resource for bankruptcy records access. Interested parties can sign up for an account online or contact the PACER Service Center to obtain login credentials.

Through PACER, individuals can view documents and retrieve relevant information from bankruptcy records. Despite that, certain restrictions may apply to documents filed before December 1, 2003, and cases closed for over a year.

Note that fees may apply when accessing Delaware Bankruptcy Records, including charges for photocopies or certified copies, standard court access fees for on-site terminals, and per-page fees for online access through CM/ECF and PACER. It is best to ask the court clerk's office for specific fee schedules or assistance for this concern.

The Delaware Judiciary operates an online case management system known as CourtConnect. This free platform has been instituted to offer public access to Delaware Court Records, primarily civil cases, from various courts, including the Superior Court, the Justice of the Peace Courts, and the Court of Common Pleas.

To begin with, users can search using a person's name, a business name, or the case type. This functionality helps individuals locate cases related to a particular business or all issues classified under a specific category, like contract disputes, property disputes, etc.

Another option is to search for judgments against a person or business. By searching for judgments, users can identify if a person or company has ever been found guilty in a civil case, and the details of the decision can offer insights into the nature and severity of the case.

Once a specific case is located, users can examine the details of the case and the chronological list of actions or events that have occurred during the life of the case.

Aside from the CourtConnect system, the Delaware Judiciary keeps a regularly updated repository that includes certain criminal and civil cases and court opinions and orders. This collection is accessible to the public, who can locate a particular case file by identifying the court adjudicating the case and the corresponding timeframe.

Despite the comprehensive nature of the Delaware Judiciary's case management systems, there may be instances when certain records are not available online.

In such cases, the Delaware courts allow individuals to submit a public record request to the specific court that handled the case. Delaware public records custodians often respond to such requests within ten days of receipt.


Counties in Delaware

Courts in Delaware

Delaware Court of Chancery34 The Circle, Georgetown, DE
Georgetown Superior Court1 The Circle, Suite 2, Georgetown, DE
Rehoboth Justice of the Peace Court35252 Hudson Way, Unit #1, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Georgetown Justice of the Peace Court23730 Shortly Road, Georgetown, DE
Seaford Justice of the Peace Court408 E. Stein Highway, Seaford, DE
Delaware Supreme Court55 The Green / South State Street, Dover, DE
Dover Superior Court414 Federal Street, Dover, DE
Harrington Justice of the Peace Court35 Cams Fortune Way, Harrington, DE
Dover Justice of the Peace Court480 Bank Lane, Dover, DE
Smyrna Justice of the Peace Court100 Monrovia Avenue, Smyrna, DE