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Where to Find Delaware Civil Court Records

Civil court records generated in the State of Delaware are records pertaining to resolution of civil disputes between individuals, businesses, or organizations. These records are maintained and distributed on request by the court, where the cases were heard. They are also accessible via third-party amalgamation sites such as DelawareCourtRecords.Us.

Are Delaware Civil Court Records Public?

The Delaware Freedom of Information Act ensures that all members of the public in the state have the right to access all public records. These Public records are created, stored, and maintained by all "regulatory, administrative, advisory, executive, legislative bodies of the State, including the courts. Hence, civil court records in Delaware are open to the public unless exempted by law.

Types of Cases in Delaware Civil Courts

Civil courts in Delaware handle cases of non-criminal nature spread across these basic types:

  • Tort claims involving cases of civil wrongdoings besides breach of contract. For example, personal injury claims, battery, negligence, medical malpractice, fraud, etc.
  • Equitable claims
  • Debt recovery actions
  • Replevin actions filed to acquire a personal item or items being withheld by another individual.
  • Summary eviction cases, such as landlord and tenant issues
  • Trespass actions that an individual's negligent actions are resulting in the damage of the plaintiff's property
  • Domestic relations matters such as divorces, annulments, child support, etc.
  • Small Claims
  • Contract and Property Disputes
  • Bankruptcy

These cases are majorly handled by the Delaware superior courts, court of chancery, and justice of peace courts. The superior court has jurisdiction over all civil cases excluding equity matters which are handled by the chancery court. The justice of peace courts do not hear cases relating to personal injuries. Courts of common pleas have jurisdiction over civil cases with less than $50,000 in dispute, and the justice of peace courts handle cases with $15,000.00 or less in dispute.

What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Delaware?

Civil cases in Delaware are legal disputes or conflicts between individuals, businesses, or organizations over money. In contrast, criminal cases constitute the enforcement of public codes of behavior when an individual violates the state laws or commits a crime.

In Delaware, Civil cases are governed by the Codes of Civil Procedure, while criminal cases are guided by the Codes of Criminal Procedure.

The penalty for losing a criminal case or being found guilty of the charges leveled by the state may include substantial fines, probation, imprisonment, or a combination of all. Civil cases, the defendant who has been proven to commit the civil wrongs, is mandated by the court to pay remedies or damages to the plaintiff.

Delaware criminal law looks after public and societal interests by rehabilitation and punishing offenders for the crime. While civil cases mostly involve private individuals and organizations.

Delaware civil and criminal litigation distinctively differ in the type of court proceedings or processes involved. Typically, civil cases are usually initiated by plaintiffs seeking remedy (mostly monetary compensation) for a wrong. The government usually files criminal cases against erring defendants, usually with no opportunity for counterclaims or third party actions.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Delaware?

Delaware is a progressive state regarding documentation, creation, storage, and dissemination of public records, including civil court records. These records are mostly kept in physical and electronic formats and can be accessed by anyone through multiple channels. For tangible and physical records, an inquirer is advised to visit the courthouse where the case of interest was heard to obtain copies of civil court records. The courts in the state can be located via the Delaware judicial website.

When requesting records directly from the courthouse, the individual must locate and contact the applicable court using the directory provided on the state website. With this information, the inquirer may contact the court clerk ahead to know what services are available, the protocol to follow, fees required, and documents/ information required to obtain civil court records. This eases and shortens the process of record acquisition.

Also, the state has maintained historical records from 1905 ; interested individuals can still obtain these records from State archives.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?

The State of Delaware maintains most of its court-generated records online to ease public access to them. The superior court, court of common pleas and the justice of peace courts provide an online searchable feature dedicated to civil case searches only through CourtConnect.

Interested individuals may access these records by searching with any or all of the following information:

  • Person's name
  • Business name
  • Case type
  • Judgments
  • Case information display

Records that are not found online can be obtained from the courthouse in person.

Also, Historical records can be obtained or inspected online via both the Delaware Public Archives and the National Archives websites.

What Is Included In a Delaware Civil Court Record?

Files, documents, or information of any kind included in a Delaware civil court record depend on the type of case, subject matter, and the course that the court proceedings take.

Generally, a civil court record in the state will include;

  • The legal and personal information of the plaintiff and the defendant. This included legal individual or company names and addresses.
  • Details of the lawsuit, complaint or petition and all amendments made in the course of the case
  • All witnesses and evidence presented by the plaintiff and defendant.
  • Details of settlements, agreements, arbitrations if they were any.
  • All civil forms used in the process, etc

How to Access Delaware Civil Court Records For Free.

Delaware court case information made available electronically can be inspected for free. This includes information on the court websites, CourtConnect, State archives, and National archives. However, the department, court, or jurisdiction may charge inquirers for longer search time or copy requests.

How to Seal Civil Court Records in Delaware

Restricting public access to a civil court record is Sealing that record. In Delaware courts, this process is guided by Rule 5 of the Delaware Court rules. The rule refers to record sealing or filing under seal as "confidential filing" or "confidential treatment."

  • For a record to be sealed in Delaware, a proposed public version must be made unless otherwise stated by law to protect the public's right of access. Without the public version, the motion for confidential filing may be dismissed.
  • This public version shows all information still made available on the case after the record has been sealed and information redacted.
  • To commence this process, the party seeking to seal a record must file a motion for confidential filing. The motion must include facts and legal basis of why the order should be considered. The individual may use the court provided forms to file the motion.
  • Other parties in the case must be notified of this motion by receiving a notice along with the proposed public version of the document.
  • The court considers all evidence and facts provided and grants the order only if there's a "good cause" to. The rule defines good cause to exist if the harm of public disclosure outweighs the public interest in accessing the record.

How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Delaware

If an individual or entity seeks access to a sealed civil court record, a notice of challenge to the sealing must be filed with the court that gave the sealing order. When the motion is filed, the party that originally had the records sealed may also file another motion to maintain the seal within 7 days of receiving notification about the access request. If both motions are filed within the appropriate time, and both motions contain extraordinary reasons to support their claims, they will be reviewed and ruled upon by the court.

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