Modern Technology and the Courts Intersect
With the advance of technology, as well as the widespread use of it, it is no surprise that almost any piece of information is available online. This is no different for most court records for California and specifically the Superior Courts of Riverside County. With 58 Counties in California, most of these courts have made available court proceeding information for anyone who cares to look it up. While the amount of information available does vary from County to County, and also depending on the type of case, for the most part, access to specific information about a case or parties of it, is just a few clicks away.
Riverside County Court Records Overview
So now that you know that court records are available online, what purpose does that serve the general public? Court case information, depending on the type of case, can be useful for many different reasons. It could be for employers looking to do a quick criminal record check on potential employees; landlords to check eviction history of potential renters; or even checking into another person’s history of domestic violence or other complaints. In Riverside County, with a case number or just simply a person’s name, anyone with internet access can lookup court records on almost anyone who has a case filed within the County. Furthermore, in a push by the Courts to provide equal access to the justice system, most court locations have a computer in the court for public use for those who do not otherwise have internet access. Availability of these computers varies from court to court in Riverside County, but they are free to use on a first come first serve basis.
Types of Riverside County Cases Available Online
With the exception of sealed or confidential cases, most case types are available to view online in Riverside County. Compared to other Counties in the State of California, who are still ramping up their technology and availability of court records online, Riverside County offers pretty much anything a person would want to know about a case online. Here is a quick list and explanation of these items available in digital form.
- Register of Actions: A timeline view of actions and or documents filed on a case. A person can see in chronological order what documents were filed to open a case as well as any responses or answers and even dates and times of hearings. These are typically updated same or next day, so a document filed today would almost always show in this register today or no later than tomorrow.
- Case Parties: This tells who the parties are to a case. In a family law case there would typically be the Petitioner, the Respondent, any minor children, any court appointed mediators, attorneys for the parties and any third parties such as the Department of Child Support Services or pension plans. The information provided for each party typically include address and contact phone if they have filed on the case. If the party is the Respondent and has not filed any documents, simply their name would appear.
- Hearing Minute Orders: While the register of actions will provide a timeline, the minute orders from the court hearings will provide a detail of what happened at a particular hearing as well as any orders (temporary or permanent) made by the Judge in those hearings.
- Criminal Charges & Bail/Fines: In criminal cases, more information such as the charges brought by the District Attorney as well as fines, fees and restitution and even payments made on those are available in the register of actions.
- Examiner Notes: In probate cases (Probate, Conservatorships and Guardianships) probate examiner notes are available online. The probate examiner is a court employee who reviews cases before upcoming hearings. They make notes, requests and list missing information/documents (deficiencies) for the Petitioners to be able to have notice of what is required prior to court hearings in an effort for them to be prepared and keep their court cases moving.
- Documents: With all of the types of information listed above, there are typically corresponding documents. This could be copies of the filed documents or the minute orders from a court hearing. In most cases these documents are imaged upon filing and made available from the register of actions. Once imaged, these documents are available for online purchase. Purchasing options include digital downloads or copies sent by PDF to an email of choice. Current cost is at $0.50 per page. For those who do not have a printer or need a certified copy, mail option is available with an additional charge to cover postage, envelopes and certification if required.
What Court Information Isn’t Available Online in Riverside County
As mentioned above, not all court proceeding documents or court filing information is available online. The most common would be juvenile cases. By default this information is not available to the general public for viewing, let alone purchasing. This extends to physical viewing or document purchasing at a court location. This means just because it isn’t available online, doesn’t mean you can visit the Juvenile Court in Riverside to obtain these documents or information. This information is only available to parties on the case and their attorneys and sometimes other governmental agencies like Child Protective Services who are actively working the case.
Another type of case information not available online or in person would be certain family law cases, most commonly “Petitions to Establish a Parental Relationship”. These are cases when custody and visitation of a minor child is sought, but the parents were not married. These cases are available only to the parties, when they visit the court in person with proper identification. Adoptions are also confidential.
A third common case not available online would be evictions. Evictions are an example of a case that could be filed, and dropped or resolved before it goes to a formal trial or default order. The court understands that regardless of if the renter was not at fault and the case is dropped, that records could hinder their ability to gain new housing. Eviction cases are confidential for the first 60 days of the cases and in some case, if dismissed or dropped, not ever a public record.
How to Obtain Court Records in Riverside County
So you know what records are and are not available and you’re ready to start searching and maybe even printing court records. The first place to start is the Riverside Superior Court’s website and navigate to the “Search Court Records” section found under the “Online Services” menu item. For ease, we have the link here. Simply choose the type of case, and enter the information such as case number, party name or other requested information to start your search. An important note is that certain types of cases required certain input information or there may be a charge. For example in Family Law Cases, if you know the case number, the search is free while if you do not and wish to search by name you will pay $1.50 per search. The same applies for criminal records. The good thing about a name search is that you will get broader results. An eample would be an employer searching criminal records for a potential employee. They wouldn’t know a case number and a paid name search will bring up all cases under that name, not just one under a particular case number. If you want to learn more, read our article about “How to Search Court Records in Riverside County”.