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California Court Records

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San Diego County Court Records

The California Rules of Court define a "court record" as any material filed, created, used, or preserved in relation to a court's adjudicative functions, irrespective of its physical format. Court records encompass a diverse selection of materials, such as exhibits, motions, pleadings, summonses and complaints, official receipts, executed warrants, decrees, orders, dockets, and certain transcripts.

Case recordkeeping in San Diego County, California, serves multiple purposes. For one, it supports effective case management, enabling litigating parties, attorneys, and court officials to find and retrieve information about court cases promptly. This includes details about upcoming hearings, filing deadlines, filed documents/papers, issued protective orders, and judgments.

Further, San Diego and other California court records are valuable research tools for trial preparation. Reviewing past cases and outcomes helps case parties or their attorneys prepare solid arguments and strategies, increasing their chances of winning a lawsuit.

Court records are also an educational resource for members of the public who are curious about how the law works or how justice is served. Transparency via court records boosts confidence in the justice system and ensures the court can be held accountable for its actions or decisions.

Are Court Records Public in San Diego County?

Yes, San Diego County court records are presumed open to the public. Per Rules 2.400(a) and 2.550(c) of the California Rules of Court, all papers in a court file are subject to public examination at the clerk's office, except where a record is confidential or sealed by law, court rule, or court order.

The Trial Court Records Manual (TCRM), Appendix 1, contains a comprehensive table of exempt California court records, including their access limitations and relevant statutes.

San Diego County Court Records Search

Members of the public have several avenues to perform a San Diego County court records search:

  • Visit the court facility where a case was tried.
  • Access the San Diego County Superior Court's online case search systems.
  • Order copies of court records online, by mail, or in person.
  • Utilize third-party public records databases that offer court record search services.

San Diego County Court Records Search by Name

A San Diego County court records search by name requires the provision or use of a name to find associated court records. However, it must be the name of a party connected with a court case—often a plaintiff or defendant's name. Individuals can perform this type of San Diego County Public Records search online, by mail, or in person.

An online court records search by name (also called a Party Name Search) can be conducted using any of the case search tools provided on the county superior court's Accessing Court Records page.

At the same time, one may send a letter to the courthouse where a case was tried. In the letter, the requester may specify the name and other case information that can assist staff in identifying the record(s), such as a case number, filing date, or document type. Finally, a person can visit the court location where a case was tried to request hard copy records by name. Photo identification is required from walk-in inquirers.

Inspection requests for court records are typically free in San Diego, regardless of the request channel used. However, any request for or that necessitates the duplication of a court record or exceeds the allocated staff search time may attract a fee. The Records Related Fees section of the San Diego County Superior Court Fee Schedule can be reviewed for specific fee information.

San Diego County Courts

The Superior Court of California, San Diego County—San Diego's sole local court—has multiple locations where court cases are litigated. Below are the court's seven addresses:

Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 844-2700

Hall of Justice
330 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 844-2700

Juvenile Court
2851 Meadow Lark Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: (858) 634-1600

North County
325 South Melrose Drive
Vista, CA 92081
Phone: (760) 201-8600

South County
500 Third Avenue, Chula
Vista, CA 91910
Phone: (619) 746-6200

East County
250 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone: (619) 456-4100

Kearny Mesa
8950 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: (858) 634-1800

Other courthouse numbers are listed on the court's Contact Us page.

San Diego County Superior Court Case Search

The San Diego County Superior Court hears all criminal and civil matters brought to the county's judicial system. Case records can be viewed at a presiding courthouse within business hours. Older records from 1880 - 1964 for the Central Division may be accessed at the Older Records office. The court publishes an online directory to assist the public in finding the locations and hours of the court's business offices (where court records can be inspected or copies requested).

Alternatively, a person can access online case search systems, including the Online Case Search Index and Register of Actions (see below), to look up San Diego County Superior Court cases remotely. The Online Case Search Index lists cases filed with the court. It is searchable with a case number, case party's name, or District Attorney case number (only for criminal cases). Search results include:

  • Case information, such as the case number, case category and type, filing date, case title, and court location
  • Case party details (name, role)
  • Whether a case has been imaged, including where it can be viewed, i.e., online or at kiosks
  • Whether a case has been microfilmed, plus the microfilm ID, location, frame number, and reel number

The San Diego County Superior Court also allows the public to conduct a case search by mail. Here, the interested party sends a letter containing relevant case details and fee to the appropriate courthouse. Upon finding identifiable records, the court mails copies to the requester.

San Diego County District Court Records

The County of San Diego has no district courts or district court equivalents. Following a constitutional amendment in 1998, there exists only one unified superior court that handles all criminal and civil cases in San Diego. People who wish to inspect or copy records of legal proceedings in San Diego may query this court as explained.

San Diego County Criminal Records

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department maintains and disseminates San Diego County criminal records per Cal. Pen. Code §§ 13300 through 13326. Under the law, these records contain localized arrest, charge, and disposition information and are only released to the subject of the record or for official reasons.

An eligible party can obtain a local criminal history check in San Diego, also referred to as a "No Record Letter", by completing and submitting a Service Request Form (Español). The form can be submitted as follows:

  • By email at Booking.Records@sdsheriff.org
  • During business hours at the San Diego County Sheriff's Records & ID office at 9621 Ridgehaven Court, San Diego, CA 92123
  • By mail to the following address:

San Diego County Sheriff's Department
Attn: Records & ID Division, Booking Section
P.O. Box 939062
San Diego, CA 92193-9062

A valid, government-issued picture ID is required to submit a San Diego criminal records request in person. If submitting the request by mail, a copy of the ID must be enclosed.

The sheriff's office charges $14 for each criminal record, payable at the time of a request by credit card, money order, cash (in person only), certified check, or personal check (if issued by a California bank). A $3 and $2.50 processing fee applies for credit and debit card transactions, respectively. The sheriff's office processing time ranges from 3 to 10 business days.

Persons seeking San Diego criminal records beyond seven years or who require the check for visa/immigration or any foreign nation transaction may request their state criminal history report from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for a fee. If seeking criminal history records from other jurisdictions, one may contact the jurisdiction that made an arrest.

Although the general public cannot access local criminal history reports in San Diego, they can obtain copies of San Diego County arrest records or reports from arresting law enforcement agencies. For example, copies of San Diego arrest records prepared by the local sheriff's office generally cost $20 each to order. Meanwhile, the City of San Diego Police Department charges 50 cents for citywide arrest reports, although only the first page is released.

San Diego County Criminal Court Case Lookup

Members of the public can access the local superior court's Online Case Search Index to look up criminal court cases in San Diego County. The platform is accessible by name or case number. However, users can only view basic criminal case information; no option is provided to download, print, or order criminal case documents on the court's website. To obtain a copy of a criminal court case record, one must visit the court facility that received a case filing or submit a mail request.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Case Information website can also be utilized to find information about felony and misdemeanor court cases in San Diego. The website is accessible with a last name or court case number. Search results include a defendant's name, date of birth, the court number, presiding judge, defense counsel, pending case events, hearing date and time, and court location. Users can also subscribe for email notifications about a case.

Get San Diego County Civil Court Records

San Diego County civil court records encompass all non-criminal proceedings in San Diego. Copies of the records can be obtained online, by mail, or in person.

Someone visiting a local courthouse must have a case number to enable staff at the business office counter to find related files (up to 10 cases are pulled per request, customer, or transaction). The court also requires a picture ID to view case files. If the case number is unknown, one may find the number using computer kiosks (available at some court locations) or by searching the superior court's Online Case Search Index.

On the other hand, individuals preferring a mail request for civil court records can draft a letter containing the following information and send it to the court location where a case was tried:

  • Names of involved parties
  • Case number
  • Names of documents required
  • Contact information, including the requester's mailing address, phone number, and email

Each mail request must include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with the relevant research or copy fees and adequate postage to return copies by mail. A credit card, check, or money order can be used for payment. Where the requester does not know the total sum due, they can include a check payable to "Superior Court" and write a "Not to Exceed $ Amount" on the memo line. Individuals paying by credit card should fill out the Credit Card Payment form (or SDSC Form #ADM-253)

Finally, some documents from civil cases (including small claims) initiated on or after January 1, 2007, may be downloaded from the San Diego County Superior Court's Online Register of Actions (Civil).

Specific fees apply for civil court record searches and replication, regardless of the court facility one visits or the retrieval method used. Generally, copies cost 50 cents per page, and certification costs $40 per document. Further, if a search lasts longer than 10 minutes, a $15 fee applies. A "search" is defined as the maximum time taken to search for, print/locate, and furnish records to a requester.

San Diego County Family Court Records

The Family Court Division of the San Diego County Superior Court has jurisdiction over all family law matters, including actions for annulment, divorce, child custody and visitation, legal separation, domestic violence restraining orders, and other family-related issues.

Because family court cases typically involve sensitive issues, many records are accessible solely to case parties and their attorneys or for official purposes. However, copies of nonconfidential family court records may be retrieved from the court location that received a family case filing or by mail, as described in the previous section.

Family law cases can also be viewed online through the Family Register of Actions. Some family case documents (mainly those filed on or after August 24, 2015) may be purchased through the portal and mailed to the requester.

San Diego Dissolution of Marriage Records

Court records generated from divorce and annulment proceedings constitute San Diego County's dissolution of marriage records. These records are preserved by the San Diego County Superior Court and fall under the larger umbrella of family court records.

An interested person can access or obtain San Diego County dissolution of marriage records much like any other family court record—at the courthouse where a case was filed, online via the Family Register of Actions, or by mail—unless a public access exemption applies.

San Diego County Marriage and Divorce Records

Nonconfidential San Diego County divorce records can be viewed or ordered in person, by mail, or online through the San Diego Superior Court. Anyone requiring a sealed or confidential divorce record must obtain a court order.

However, San Diego County marriage records are maintained by the Recorder's office, the official custodian for San Diego County vital records, including marriage, birth, and death records.

Certified copies of a San Diego County marriage certificate (which serves as proof of marriage) are available at the Recorder's office locations, by mail, or online through a third-party vendor. Both in-person and mail requests require the completion of a marriage certificate application. In-person inquirers must also provide a valid government-issued photo ID (passport, driver's license, military ID, or other). Each marriage certificate costs $17, but additional fees may apply.

Generally, the Recorder's office issues public (nonconfidential) and confidential marriage certificates. Certified copies of public marriage certificates are available only to authorized parties per Cal. Health & Safety Code § 103526(c)(2), such as a spouse, a spouse's parent or legal guardian, or law enforcement personnel. Persons unqualified to receive a certified copy of a public marriage certificate can request a certified Informational Copy.

A certified copy of a confidential San Diego County marriage certificate is only released to a registrant or by court order. Nevertheless, the Recorder's office may provide a "Letter Confirming the Existence of a Marriage" to an unauthorized requester.

San Diego Birth and Death Records

Records of births and deaths occurring in San Diego County are part of the San Diego County vital records. Individuals may obtain these records for various reasons, including establishing identity and claiming benefits.

The County of San Diego Recorder's office provides in-person, mail, and online (via a vendor) avenues for obtaining certified and informational copies of San Diego County birth and death records. Note that certified copies are released only to persons highlighted in Cal. Health & Safety Code § 103526(c)(2). However, anyone can obtain a certified Informational Copy.

Each copy of a San Diego County birth certificate costs $32, whereas a San Diego County death certificate costs $24 to order. A requester may incur additional fees or surcharges based on their selected services (e.g., an expedited service), order channels, or payment methods.

San Diego County Probate Court Records

The Probate Court Division of the San Diego County Superior Court hears all matters relating to probate, including wills, estates, and trusts. The court also handles guardianships and conservatorships.

Copies of nonconfidential San Diego County probate court records can be retrieved from the San Diego County Superior Court by completing Form PR-189 - Request for Copies (Probate). This form can be submitted with the relevant research, copy, or postage fees as follows:

  • By mail, with a self-addressed stamped envelope
  • In person at the Probate Business Office in the Central Courthouse or
  • Online via the e-File system.

Most probate cases can be accessed online through the superior court's Register of Actions (Small Claims and Probate). The system provides a case number, party name, and date search. Users can also purchase and print/download probate court documents from the system and track their orders. Any purchased document is available for 14 days after its order date.

San Diego County Property Records

San Diego County property records bear information on real estate located within the county's boundaries, including property ownership, characteristics, assessed values, maps, sales listings, and historical Tax Collector information.

The Office of the San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk (SDARCC) is the official custodian for these records and provides various resources to researchers. Below are request channels available to members of the public:

  • In-Person: One can visit any of the SDARCC's office locations to inspect/view property records on public kiosks.
  • Online: Individuals can access the SDARCC's Official Records Index to view indexed information from recorded property documents. Alternatively, one can access the office's Property Search (run by a third-party vendor) for recorded documents and other property-related information or reports.
  • By Mail: Copies of recorded documents, such as deeds and liens, can be purchased online through the SDARCC's Official Records Index and mailed to the requester via USPS.

Individuals can also submit a mail order directly by drafting a written request bearing a document number, recording year, document type, and the name of at least one party mentioned on the document. The written request should be submitted to the following address:

San Diego Recorder/County Clerk
ATTN: Real Estate Records
P.O. Box 121750
San Diego, CA 92112-1750

Copies of San Diego property records cost $2 for the first page and five cents for each additional page. Meanwhile, certification costs $1 per document. These fees are payable by cash (in person only), credit/debit card (online or in person), or by check or money order (by mail or in person) to "San Diego Recorder/County Clerk".

San Diego County Court Records Online

Third-party alternatives may be explored by individuals looking to find San Diego court records online. Compared to local court websites, third-party sites like courtrecords.us (sometimes called private aggregator websites) offer advanced search capabilities, allowing users to search across multiple counties and US states simultaneously. This makes them valuable resources, especially for persons with limited case details and those seeking other San Diego County public records.

Like court databases, third-party sites require certain parameters to deliver relevant matches to the user. A first and last name is often the standard search criterion, and users may be charged for a detailed report.

As with any online court records search, there may be limitations to a record's accuracy or general accessibility. Consequently, it is crucial for users to verify that privately sourced information corresponds with the official court record.

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  • Criminal Records
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  • Felonies
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  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!