Delaware Court Records
What are Delaware Criminal Court Records?
Delaware Criminal Court Records are official records bearing factual accounts of criminal court proceedings in the State of Delaware. The criminal court records are filed and maintained by a Clerk of Court/Court Administrator. They may include the original evidence, judgments, transcripts, exhibits, pleadings, recordings, motions, and any pertinent information relevant to a criminal case judged in a Delaware trial court.
Understanding the Delaware Criminal Court System
The Delaware Criminal Court System consists of an appellate court and five trial courts.
The appellate court has general jurisdiction over criminal cases, whereas the trial courts are restricted as to the types of criminal cases that fall under their jurisdiction. As a rule, most criminal cases appear first in the Justice of the Peace Court—the base of the judicial system. Cases are advanced to higher courts as the cases become more complex. Federal crime cases fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the District of Delaware which sits in the City of Wilmington.
- The Supreme Court
As the only appellate court in Delaware, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the judicial system with a judgeship that comprises a Chief Justice and four justices.
The Court holds discretionary jurisdiction in the state and final jurisdiction over direct appeals from trial courts (the Court of Chancery, the Superior Court, and the Family Court), civil cases, and criminal cases exceeding the minimum sentence.
- The Court of Chancery
The Court of Chancery is the equity court of Delaware. It has the authority to hear all cases involving estates, trusts & trusts matters, disputes in real estate, and corporate matters.
- The Superior Court
Delaware’s Superior Court has two functions:
- The court serves as the state’s court of general jurisdiction. It handles a majority of criminal cases, particularly felony charges and drug offenses to which it holds exclusive jurisdiction, and civil cases over $50,000 (excluding equity cases).
- It acts as the state’s intermediate appellate court giving it the jurisdiction, in certain instances, to hear appeals from other trial courts & state administrative agencies
- The Family Court
Familial & juvenile matters such as custody, support, abuse, divorce, adoption, property divisions, fall under the purview of the Family Court, with exception to civil appeals and criminal cases involving juvenile and adult cases.
- The Court of Common Pleas
Delaware’s Court of Common Pleas has nine judges stationed in the three counties who preside over civil disputes amounting below $75,000, motor vehicle offenses, preliminary hearings in felony matters, and misdemeanors by individuals above 18 years of age, with exception to certain traffic and drug-related offenses.
- The Justice of the Peace Court
The Justice of the Peace court acts as a committing magistrate for criminal cases. Although the court has no jurisdiction over felonies and limited jurisdiction for juvenile cases, it can hear criminal violations, certain types of criminal misdemeanors, and most motor vehicle cases that occurred within the state.
The court also treats disputes of civil matters that don’t exceed $15,000 in controversy. These cases include trespasses, debt, and recovery of personal properties.
Obtaining Delaware Criminal Court Records
Interested persons have the right to access present and past inmates’ records of conviction that are public by written or oral request to the custodian of records/ court clerk in the respective courthouse. This record can be requested:
- In-person, by visiting the courthouse
- Via electronic mail
- Via fax
- Via mail
To get a criminal court record, an individual has to:
- Fill the official application form titled, “application for access to court records” to access the court record
- Provide sufficient & relevant information in the form, such as the defendant’s full name, date of birth, charge (s), case number (s), approximate date of arrest, in order to enable prompt identification of the court record
- Pay the corresponding court fees, in cash or check, to access the requested record
Additionally, publicly available records may be accessible from some third-party websites.* These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
*Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
Note: The information required to complete the application form and obtain a criminal court record may vary depending on the courthouse.
Corresponding fees are dependent on the requested record (s) and courthouse.
How Do I Access Delaware Criminal Court Records in Person?
To access Delaware criminal court records in person, the person(s) requesting the record must have knowledge of the applicable courthouse, along with sufficient details of the case to enable the record custodian to identify the case file in a timely manner. Next, the individual should visit the courthouse. To request access from the custodian of reports, interested parties must complete a request form and pay the corresponding fees, in check or cash.
While the interested party is not permitted to take the original criminal court records from the location in which they are kept unless given authorization by judicial order or the custodian, there is the option to make copies of the record from the courthouse. This is made available by the records custodian in audio recording CD, docket, media package, and certified copy formats.
How do I find Delaware Public Records for Free?
Delaware Public Records are available online on the Delaware Court’s website. Interested parties can search the database for court schedules, court rules, and court orders and opinions in civil, criminal and complex commercial litigation categories. The Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas and Justice of the Peace Court also operate a 24/7 dedicated website to search civil case records. The platform lets users access civil dockets by entering the following information into a search box:
- Name of person, name of business/ case type
- Court judgments against a person or business
- Case information/ activities
Other record custodians may also store their files online, in a publicly accessible repository.
Are all Delaware Criminal Court Records Public?
Subject to the Freedom of Information Act and in line with court policies, citizens of the state of Delaware, interested individuals, associations, agencies and corporations, both public and private, can request access to inspect and obtain most criminal court records. They can do this by contacting the custodian of records/ court clerk of the appropriate court during working hours.
However, while these court records can generally be accessed by the public, certain records and case information are inaccessible, confidential and sealed from public access by court rule/ law.
What Records are Sealed by Delaware Statute?
While public records are readily available online or per request in line with the Freedom of Information Act, certain information and details in a criminal case can be redacted or sealed by law/ court order to prevent public access to sensitive information, except in cases where the requesting party possesses a court-issued order by a Judge to view those records confidentially. By Delaware Statute, this list includes but is not limited to:
- Records controlled by statute, common law, or court rule
- Records that have been sealed
- Judicial work product
- Judicial Assistants’ notes
- Presentence investigation reports
- Warrants that were unexecuted or unreturned
- Records of Criminal history
- Driver’s license records
- Personal information about a Witness or Victim
- AIDS/HIV status
- Grand jury records
- Records that have been expunged
- the state’s Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program records
- Medical and psychological records
See Section I of the policy on accessing court records from the Court of common pleas.
See Section III of Justice of the Peace court policy on Public Access to Court Records
Are Trial Transcripts Open to the Public?
Yes, Trial Transcripts are open to the public in the state of Delaware. Trial transcripts are real-time recordings of court proceedings, done by the Court Reporters of a court. The plaintiff, attorneys, and citizens of the state can request access to transcripts. Each court has its own distinct fees and procedures for procuring a transcript.
1. Transcript Orders for Court of Chancery
To obtain transcripts in the Court of Chancery, the individual should contact the Court Reporter’s Main Office at (302) 255–0525 and pay the transcript costs.
Note: Costs for transcript orders in the Court of Chancery vary per-page and method of preferred delivery.
2. Transcript Orders for Superior Court
Interested parties can obtain the transcripts by providing the following information to the Court Reporter’s Office
- The Case Name and Number
- The Name of the Presiding Judge
- The Date of the Court Proceeding
The proper Court Reporter’s county addresses and telephone numbers for inquiries on transcripts are listed below:
Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
(formerly New Castle County Courthouse)
Chief Court Reporter
500 North King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Kent County Courthouse
Chief Court Reporter
414 Federal Street, 1st Floor
Dover, DE 19901
Sussex County Courthouse
Chief Court Reporter
1 The Circle, Suite 2
Georgetown, DE 19947
3. Transcript Orders for Family Court
Interested individuals can contact the Family Court to request a transcript. Digital records of Transcripts in the Family court are kept by the court reporter’s office for two years subsequent to the initial hearing.
4. Transcript Orders for Court of Common Pleas
Members of the public can request a transcript or enquire about the cost from the Court of Common Pleas, by sending an email to the court at CCP.Transcripts@delaware.gov.