Florida Court Records
Florida Court Records are public documents created by the court. These records typically consist of motions, case dockets, transcripts, records of disposition, and filed exhibits submitted by the parties involved in a case.
The public has an automatic right of access to all court records with the court clerk under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420.
Similarly, section 119.07(1)(a) of the Sunshine Law requires Florida record custodians to allow interested parties to inspect or copy their records at reasonable times and under practical terms.
However, some court documents may be kept private if doing so would prevent a serious, immediate threat to the administration of justice or if there is no reasonable alternative.
Which Florida Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
When attempting to obtain court records in Florida, it is essential to comprehend how the court system operates in this state. In the court system of Florida, trial courts maintain the majority of court documents and case details.
With the implementation of Article V of the Florida Constitution, which establishes the authority and structure of the state's court system, Florida currently runs under a two-tier trial court system of Circuit and County Courts.
The following information about the state trial court system will help you obtain Florida Court Records:
Florida County Courts
These courts, also known as the people's courts, are at the bottom of the state judicial hierarchy.
For each of Florida's 67 municipalities, there is a separate County Court. These courts hear cases that do not call for the participation of juries. Furthermore, it deals with a large number of cases involving citizens, such as:
- Traffic violations
- Financial disputes up to and including $30,000
- Landlord-tenant disputes
- Breaking local and county laws
- Misdemeanor criminal matters
- Simple divorce cases
Florida Circuit Courts
In Florida's judicial system, Circuit Courts are the highest trial courts. This trial court reviews appeals of County Court decisions and handles cases not statutorily appointed to County Courts.
In Florida, this court has the authority to issue prohibition, extraordinary writs of certiorari, injunctions, habeas corpus, quo warranto, and any other summons required to exercise their judicial power.
Furthermore, these courts hear cases such as:
- Civil cases involving more than $30,000
- Cases about guardianships
- Felony criminal cases
- Tax disputes
- Juvenile delinquency and dependency cases
- Family law issues
- Estates disputes
What Are the Common Public Court Records in Florida?
The following are the prevalent types of Florida Court Records that are available to the public:
Florida Criminal Records
In Florida, criminal records are government documents of crimes people have committed. Different law enforcement agencies, courts, and county and state offices compile these records, which detail a person's interactions with law enforcement.
Alternatively, you can use the SHIELD portal to obtain certified records. However, getting your hands on these documents will take a few weeks when you use this portal.
Typically, these records in the state of Florida include the following details:
- Subject's personal information (name, age, sex, and nationality)
- Any aliases
- History of arrests
Florida Civil and Small Claims Records
All of the written and collected information about a small claims case is in the Florida Small Claims Records. Most of the time, these records in Florida include the following:
- Party's pleadings
- Court notices
- Trial transcripts
In this state, the County Courts' Small Claims Courts settle minor legal disputes between parties for up to $8,000, excluding expenses, interests, and attorneys' fees.
The majority of the cases heard in this court also involve personal injury and contract violations. However, regardless of the claim amount, Small Claims Courts in Florida do not handle cases involving the following:
- Name alteration
The Florida Civil Records, on the other hand, contain information about civil cases in the state. Compared to small claims, it involves a more significant amount of money in dispute.
In Florida, the County or Circuit Courts may handle civil cases. The County Courts hear cases where the amount in dispute is less than $30,000, while the Circuit Courts hear all cases where the amount in controversy is more than $30,000.
In this state, the filing court must be in the county where the incident occurred. So, to get these records, you must go to the Court Clerk's office in the proper county and ask them.
Florida Traffic Records
Documents containing information about a licensed motorist are known as Florida Traffic Records. Generally, this document includes information about a person's driving or traffic history, including details about any traffic violations, tickets, and punishments.
Various Florida government entities, including the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and the state's judicial system, are responsible for creating and maintaining traffic records.
When it comes to the information included in a Florida Traffic Record, it usually is up to the issuing agency.
Traffic records made by state courts include information about a civil or criminal traffic case, such as the motions, pleadings, and sentences of the person who broke the law.
In contrast, FLHSMV's traffic records pertain primarily to a driver's driving or traffic history. Usually, it shows the license holder's traffic violations, accidents, license status, and license suspensions.
In Florida, these are some of the most common traffic offenses:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Reckless driving
- Vehicular homicide
- Reckless driving
- Drag races
- Driving without a license
- Ignoring red lights
By requesting driver records from the FLHSMV, you can access your Florida Traffic Records. You can submit your request at this agency in person, by mail, or online.
You can order driver records in person by visiting a driver's license service center, private provider, or court clerk that provides the service. On the FLHSMV location page, you can click on the county to get the address of the clerk's office.
You may also request these records from the Bureau of Records by submitting a Driver License Record Request form and paying the appropriate fee.
Lastly, you can check the status of your license for free using the FLHSMV's Online Driver License Check.
Florida Probate Records
Florida Probate Records are documents made after a person dies. Each courthouse's county judges and clerks initially keep these records in this state. But since 1968, the clerk of the Circuit Court in each county has been in charge of them.
In Florida, probate records include several types of files, such as:
- Order books
The Florida probate process identifies and gathers deceased person's assets, pays their debts, and distributes their assets to their beneficiaries.
If the decedent did not have a will, this procedure is necessary to transfer probate assets to the decedent's beneficiaries. It is also essential since it finalizes the decedent's financial affairs following death.
Florida probate proceedings begin by filing with the Circuit Court clerk in the decedent's county of residence. When you file, you must pay a filing fee to the clerk.
The clerk assigns a file number and keeps a record of all probate estate administration papers after you file for probate.
Usually, the whole process takes between six months and a year. But each case is different, and some probates may take much longer than others. For instance, circumstances and timelines can differ if someone contests the will.
To learn more about probate in Florida, consult Chapters 731-740 of the Florida Statutes.
Most Florida probate records are public, but inventories and audits submitted in estates are confidential and only available to the personal representative, their attorney, or an interested party.
If you are interested, you can get copies of these records by contacting the clerk of the Circuit Court in the county that is relevant to your inquiry.
Florida Bankruptcy Records
Contrary to all other Florida Court Records, Florida Bankruptcy Records are not under the jurisdiction of the Circuit and County Courts. Instead, federal laws governed bankruptcy proceedings in this state.
In Florida, these records provide financial details about individuals and businesses that have initiated bankruptcy proceedings. These files include the applicant's yearly salary, financial investments, and development assets.
Some of the most common types of bankruptcies filed in this state are as follows:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Individuals, partners, companies, and other corporate entities can use this type of bankruptcy proceeding. Under this bankruptcy filing, the court elects a trustee who supervises the sale of the debtor's nonexempt assets and properties and allocates the earnings to creditors.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
This type of bankruptcy is typically available to companies, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs) in Florida.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy enables the debtor to reorganize as opposed to liquidating. It also lets businesses with debt stay in charge while they devise a plan to pay it back.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
In addition to allowing debtors to avoid liquidation, Chapter 13 bankruptcy permits the reorganization of secured debts. Under this type of bankruptcy, people who owe money must plan to pay back what they owe. Most of the time, this plan takes between three and five years.
However, only debtors with consistent income can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida.
The following is a list of the courts in this state where debtors can file for bankruptcy:
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Florida
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida
Therefore, to obtain these records, you must submit an in-person or written request to the court clerk's office of these Bankruptcy Courts (listed above).
You must send checks or money orders to the court clerk to send a request by mail.
For example, if you want copies of bankruptcy records from the Florida Middle Bankruptcy Court, you must complete a Copy Request Form, pay for them, and provide a self-addressed, sealed envelope.
Requesting records by mail is similar in other courts. However, you may also send a written request containing the case number, docket number, document title, and additional identifying information.
You can also use the Multi-voice Case Information System (MvCSIS) or the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) to get these records over the phone or online.
Does Florida Have a Case Search?
Florida has no centralized system to look up trial court electronic records online. Therefore, to access most Florida Court Records, you must visit or ask the courthouse or the state agency responsible for the records.
But if you want to review cases, the Florida District Courts of Appeal has an online docket. Similarly, the Florida Supreme Court makes its Opinions, Dockets, oral argument Case Summaries, and Disposition Orders available online.
Still, the best way to find and obtain Florida trial court records is in person or by sending a request in the mail. You can use this directory to find the correct court in Florida. It lists all courts in your city or county with their courthouse addresses, websites, and clerk information.
After locating the appropriate court's address, the next step is to submit a request to the court's records keeper. Take note that the Clerk of Court is the one who typically maintains custody of these records.
If you mail the court records request, you should include the pertinent information and a self-addressed stamped envelope so the court can return your documents.
Is it possible to view Florida court records online? You can look up trial court cases in this state by remotely accessing online portals made available by many of the County Courts. For instance, Orange, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties offer online access to case information where you can also request copies for a fee.
Counties in Florida
- De Soto
- Indian River
- Miami Dade
- Palm Beach
- Saint Johns
- Saint Lucie
- Santa Rosa
Courts in Florida
List of Content
- Which Florida Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
- What Are the Common Public Court Records in Florida?
- Does Florida Have a Case Search?