New Jersey Court Records
New Jersey Court Records refer to the official documents, records, and proceedings of the courts within the state. These records include all civil and criminal legal proceedings in the New Jersey court system.
Court records in New Jersey play an essential role in the functioning of the state's legal system and provide valuable information and insight for a variety of purposes.
First, they enable legal professionals to research cases, build legal arguments, and provide transparency and accountability for the state's judicial system.
These records also allow individuals and organizations to conduct background checks on potential employees, tenants, or business partners, providing essential information for decision-making.
Moreover, they serve as a resource for researchers and genealogists to trace family history and historical events.
A court record in New Jersey can contain a wealth of information, depending on the record type and the specific case. Here are some examples of information that you can find on this record:
- Case information like the names of the parties involved, the type of case, the court that heard the case, and the case number
- Legal documents such as pleadings, motions, briefs, orders, judgments, and decrees
- Court dockets that present events and actions that occurred during a case, such as court appearances, hearings, and rulings
- Transcripts of court proceedings that may contain witness testimonies and statements made by the parties involved in the case
Under New Jersey Open Public Records Act and New Jersey Court Rule 1.38, these records are accessible to the public. However, the right of access is not absolute because a court can sometimes limit who can see them.
For example, you may not be able to see records like jury questionnaires, records about child sexual abuse victims, grand jury proceedings, search warrants, and most records from the family division. Only the parties involved and other authorized people can ask for access to confidential court records.
Which New Jersey Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
If you want to find court records, it is best to learn how the court system works in New Jersey. The complex court system in New Jersey primarily consists of the Supreme Court and the Trial Courts.
The following Trial Courts below are where you can find most public records in the state:
New Jersey Superior Courts
Superior Courts in New Jersey have general authority over criminal and civil cases. Most often, they only hear cases other courts can't handle.
Aside from the Appellate Division, these courts may have different parts or divisions for cases, like civil, criminal, family, chancery, and probate.
When taxation expertise is necessary, these courts can transfer matters to the New Jersey Tax Court. Furthermore, they may delegate jurisdiction over motor vehicle matters involving death or bodily damage to Municipal Courts.
New Jersey Surrogate's Courts
The Surrogate's Courts in New Jersey oversee probate matters, which involve the administration of estates and the distribution of assets after someone has passed away.
Specifically, the Surrogate's Courts are in charge of the probate procedure, which entails proving a will in court and distributing the deceased's assets following the will stipulations.
They also appoint guardians for minors and incapacitated adults who cannot make their own decisions. It includes appointing guardians for children who have lost their parents and adults who are mentally incapacitated.
Furthermore, these courts oversee the legal process of adoption, which involves terminating the parental rights of one or both biological parents and granting legal parental rights to the adoptive parents.
Lastly, the Surrogate's Courts can appoint a conservator to manage the financial affairs of a minor or an incapacitated adult who cannot control their finances.
Surrogates are elected county authorities and judicial officers who act as Surrogate Court judges and Deputy Clerks of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate, and Family Sections.
New Jersey Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts in New Jersey have authority over a variety of criminal matters. Some of the criminal cases they can hear are as follows:
- Criminal preliminary hearings
- Crimes of the fourth degree and other offenses punishable by less than a year in prison
- Disorderly person charges
- Motor vehicle and traffic offenses
- Breaches of the county or municipal regulations
- Violations of fish, game, and boating statutes
Unless a Superior Court gives specific authorization, these courts lack the power to hear motor vehicle cases involving fatalities or severe bodily damage.
New Jersey Tax Court
The New Jersey Tax Court can only look into actions or rules made by a state agency, a state official, a county board of taxation, or a county or municipal official related to taxes.
The Tax Court handles cases for the whole state. Even though court proceedings may occur in other cities, the Tax Court Management Office in Trenton manages all Tax Court communications and information.
For some tax cases, the Tax Court has a branch called "Small Claims."
The Tax Court will also take over cases from Superior Courts when the case calls for taxation expertise.
What are the Common Public Court Records in New Jersey?
The following are the most prevalent types of public New Jersey Court Records:
New Jersey Civil and Small Claims Records
Civil court records in New Jersey are public records that document legal disputes between individuals, businesses, or other entities. These disputes may involve various issues, including general equity records, breach of contract, property disputes, personal injury claims, and employment disputes.
A civil action in New Jersey commences when a party submits a complaint, completes the case information statement, and pays the filing fee.
The Civil Division of the Superior Court handles civil proceedings in which the amount exceeds $15,000. For cases where the money at stake is between $5,000 and $15,000, the Regular Special Civil Part hears them.
On the other hand, small claims in New Jersey are cases where the amount in question is less than $5,000. The Special Civil Part Court or the Small Claims Court, also part of a Superior Court, oversees small claims cases in the state.
Some of the common types of cases in New Jersey Small Claims Records are as follows:
- Accident-related vehicle damage
- Breaking a written or oral contract
- Downpayment recovery
- Loss or damage to property
- Unpaid service
- Bad check claims
- Security deposit recovery under $5,000
When you obtain either a civil court record or a small claims record in New Jersey, you can expect the following information:
- Names of the parties involved
- Case details like the nature of the dispute, the legal claims, and any evidence presented
- Court orders and judgments made by the court, including any penalties or fines imposed
- Documents filed in the case, such as the initial complaint, answers, motions, and other legal pleadings
- Court hearing dates
- Case status, whether it has been dismissed, settled, or still ongoing
If you need tax-related small claims records, contact the New Jersey Tax Court in Trenton.
New Jersey Criminal Records
One of the most common New Jersey Court Records is criminal records. New Jersey Criminal Records, also called "rap sheets," are the official records that state and local courts, detention centers, and law enforcement agencies keep on people convicted of a crime.
Included in a New Jersey Criminal Record are the following:
- Name of the person charged or convicted of a crime, including any known aliases
- The subject's personal information, such as gender, birth date, and race
- Mugshot and fingerprints of the subject
- Previous convictions
- Previous infractions and indictments
- Previous and active warrants and arrest records
You can request New Jersey Criminal Records from the appropriate Criminal Division of the Superior Court. But the best way is via the Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) division of the New Jersey State Police.
New Jersey Traffic Records
New Jersey Traffic Records, also called Driver History Abstracts, have information about traffic violations, fines, accidents, and license suspensions (where applicable). Moreover, it details the type of traffic violation, the offense date, and how many points it added to the driver's license.
A traffic violation in New Jersey is anything a driver does against the state's traffic laws. Some of these violations are minor, like speeding or not giving way. Others are more serious, like DUI or hit-and-run.
In New Jersey, there are three types of driving records: certified five-year driving records, online non-certified driving records, and certified complete driving records, which may only be available to certain people and institutions.
If you want to see your traffic court record, you can contact the Traffic Division of the Superior Court in the county that heard the case or where you broke the law.
Alternatively, you can request them online through New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC). NJMVC keeps these records current and available to the public upon request.
New Jersey Probate Records
Probate records are legal documents showing a person's assets and estate distribution after death.
Probate proceedings in New Jersey involve several steps to manage the assets and distribute a deceased person's property. The executor or administrator must file the original will with the Surrogate's Court in the county where the dead person lived and provide notice to interested parties.
Once the will is probated, the court will issue letters of testamentary or letters of administration to the executor or administrator, which authorizes them to manage the estate.
Then, the executor or administrator must prepare an inventory of the estate's assets, pay outstanding debts and taxes, and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries or heirs.
You can learn more about the probate proceedings in New Jersey in Title 3B of the 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes.
What's in a New Jersey Probate Record?
All documents and information during the probate proceedings in the state are compiled in New Jersey Probate Records. Thus, these records may include documents such as wills, letters of testamentary, letters of administration, inventories of the deceased person's assets, and papers of the distribution of the estate.
These files can provide information about the deceased person and their family. Some of the information that you can find in New Jersey Probate Records includes:
- The decedent person's name, date of death, and place of residence
- Information about the deceased person's family, including spouses, children, and other relatives
- Details about the decedent person's assets, including property, money, and personal belongings
- Information about any debts or obligations owed by the deceased person
- Details about the distribution of the decedent person's estate, including who received what assets and when
- Information about the decedent person's occupation, education, and other personal details
- Signatures of witnesses, heirs, and other individuals involved in the probate process
Most of these records are in the Surrogate's Court in the county where the deceased lived. To obtain these records, you must contact the Surrogate's Court in the appropriate county and follow their procedures for requesting access to the documents. You can use this directory to contact or get information from New Jersey Surrogates.
If you can't find the probate records in a Surrogate's Court, you can ask the appropriate Chancery Division of the Superior Court, as they keep some probate files in the state.
New Jersey Family Records
New Jersey Family Records from courts contain information about legal proceedings related to family matters.
The Family Division or the Family Court of the Superior Court in New Jersey hears the family law cases in the state. These family law cases include divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, and domestic violence.
These records typically include court orders, pleadings, motions, and other legal documents related to a specific case. They may also include transcripts of hearings, the evidence presented in court, and judgments issued by the court.
To obtain New Jersey Family Court Records, you must contact or visit the appropriate Family Division of the Superior Court that heard the case.
It's important to note that access to Family Court Records is generally restricted, and some records may be sealed or confidential due to the sensitive nature of family law cases. In addition, some records may be restricted based on the documents' age or the type of information they contain.
In most circumstances, only authorized persons can get these records, including the parties involved, their lawyers, and their closest family members.
New Jersey Bankruptcy Records
Though New Jersey Bankruptcy Records are not part of the state's trial court system, they are among the most common New Jersey Court Records. The federal U.S. Bankruptcy Court compiles and maintains these documents.
New Jersey Bankruptcy Records are documents and information related to bankruptcy cases filed in the state.
The most common types of bankruptcy filings in New Jersey are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also called a "liquidation bankruptcy," is the most prevalent type of bankruptcy filing in New Jersey. In Chapter 7, the debtor's non-exempt assets are sold to pay off their debts, and any remaining debts are discharged.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, commonly known as a "reorganization bankruptcy," is the second most common type of bankruptcy filing in New Jersey. In this bankruptcy chapter, the debtor may propose a repayment plan, which lasts between three and five years and makes monthly payments to a bankruptcy trustee to pay off their debts.
What's in a New Jersey Bankruptcy Record?
After filing, all information and documents will be part of the New Jersey Bankruptcy Records, which can contain a wide range of information, including:
- The name, address, and other identifying information of the debtor
- Information about the creditors involved in the bankruptcy case, including their names, contact details, and claims against the debtor
- Information on the debtor's assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and other financial information
- Bankruptcy filing information such as the type of bankruptcy filed, the date of filing, the court docket number, and the status of the case
- Any court documents filed with the court during the bankruptcy case, such as petitions, schedules, and motions
- Meeting of creditors information, including date, time, venue, and creditors who participated
- Information about whether the debtor's debts were discharged in bankruptcy and the date of discharge
- Information about the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case, including their name, contact details, and role in the bankruptcy process
You can obtain these records through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. The court maintains an electronic case filing system called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which allows users to search and access bankruptcy records online.
To use PACER, you must register for an account and pay a small fee for each search or document accessed.
Does New Jersey Have a Case Search?
The New Jersey Judiciary website has a "Find a Case" page where the public can get information from New Jersey Court Records online.
Furthermore, the New Jersey Electronic Access Program (EAP) of the Superior Court Clerk Office provides users remote access to specific Judiciary case management systems. Users may examine and use data about cases filed with the trial court for commercial reasons.
Some of the case information that an EAP user can get include the orders, motioned dispositions, and any documents filed. The names and statuses of each litigant, the proceedings scheduled, and the attorneys involved are also available.
In addition to the case searches above, the New Jersey Judiciary website has service pages for every type of court record where appropriate methods and tools are presented.
For example, if you want to obtain New Jersey Civil and Small Claims Records from Civil Practice Division and New Jersey Criminal Records from Criminal Practice Division online, one of the online tools available for these records is the eCourts.
You can also electronically submit your court record requests through the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS).
Note that requestors, not parties to the requested records, may not have full remote access to some electronic documents. Some examples are divorce records and records about sexually abused children.
People who want to see these confidential records or any records not available through the New Jersey Judiciary website must go to the courthouses that keep the case files. You can use this guide on how you can adequately request these records. To locate the appropriate court, you can explore this directory.
Counties in New Jersey
- Cape May
Courts in New Jersey
List of Content
- Which New Jersey Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
- What are the Common Public Court Records in New Jersey?
- Does New Jersey Have a Case Search?