In most cases you can locate a court file either via the court's online case search or by going to the court location where the case was tried.
Click below to search for the following case files:
- Traffic, Minor Offense or Misdemeanor files
- Civil, Criminal (Felony and Misdemeanor), Family Court, Mental Health or Probate
- Juvenile Court files
- Small Claims files
Before starting your file search, please be aware of the following:
Traffic and Minor Offense
If you are searching for records of vehicle code violations, some local municipal ordinances, or infractions, you need to call or go to the court facility where your case was tried. These files are not available on-line.
Be aware, these records are stored at the court facility only for a short time before being housed at an off-site location. It could take several days to retrieve the records and there will be a fee charged for retrieving the record if it is in storage.
In most cases, infraction records are destroyed after three years, misdemeanor traffic records are destroyed after five years and DUI (misdemeanors) are destroyed after 10 years.
Civil, Criminal, Domestic (Family Court), Mental Health or Probate
- Case Files 1974 - Present
- Case Files Pre-1974 /Archived Records
- Can't Find A Court File?
Case Files 1974-Present
You can locate a specific case by either using the court's online case search or going to the court location where the case was heard.
Case Files - Pre-1974 /Archived Records
To find an older or archived record you must go to the court location where the case was tried.
The court's Central Division Central Records houses case indexes dating from 1880 to mid-1974.
Indexes from 1880 to 1964 are in large, hardbound books. Post-1964 records are available on computer-generated indexes.
Can't Find a Court Record?
If court staff is unable to find the court file, the file may have been destroyed or purged pursuant to Government Code Section 68152.
Juvenile Court Files
All Juvenile Court records are confidential. The minor, his or her parents or legal guardian(s), and attorneys of record may obtain copies of court minutes and selected court documents by appearing at the appropriate counter with photo identification. The records will not be mailed.
Pursuant to local rule, persons and agencies may inspect dependency records authorized by statute (Welfare and Institutions Code section 827) without obtaining a court order. The right to inspect such records includes the right to view them and obtain copies.
Other individuals must file a Petition For Disclosure of Juvenile Court Records (JC Form # JV-570). The completed form may be presented in person or by mail but must contain an original signature. If the petition is granted, viewing and/or obtaining copies may be done only by appearing in person with proper photo identification. Copies of records will not be mailed.
Small Claims Files
Requests for copies, tapes or CDs can be made in person or by mail.
- In person at the courthouse or branch location where the record is located.
- By mailing a request for copies to the office where the record is located, along with appropriate fee.
The court retains Small Claims files for the following length of time:
- Electronic recordings - Retained for seven years following disposition of the case -- OP 7.1.
- Case files Voluntary dismissal by a party without entry of judgment - One year per Government Code section 68152(d)(2)
- Case files - After final disposition - 10 years per Government Code section 68152(c)(11)
Court proceedings are a matter of public record. However, the court has the power to seal court records. When a judge seals a record, the public is prevented from viewing specified files or documents without first obtaining a court order.
Destroyed Files/File Purging
If you cannot find the court record you are searching for, it may be because it has been purged or destroyed. The Superior Court of California, County of San Diego routinely purges court records pursuant to Government Code section 68152. The length of time a record is kept varies.
To review Government Code section 68152, which governs file destruction, please click here.
Off-site Storage/Retrieval Fee
Because of limited space, many case files are stored at an off-site location after a certain amount of time. If the case for which you are searching for is housed away from a court facility, there is a retrieval charge that is due and collected at the time the request is made. Click here for a list of fees.