Obtaining Court Records

Find out how to obtain court records.

Court Records

How can I view records in criminal cases?

Information about criminal cases in the North Carolina court system can be accessed by visiting a public, self-service terminal located at a clerk of court’s office in any county. You can use the terminal to search for cases by defendant name, case number, or victim or witness name. Paper files for court cases may be accessed by visiting the clerk of court’s office in the county where the case is located. Copies may be made of court documents for a fee.

How can I remove cases from my criminal record?

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for an expunction. See the Expunctions Help Topic for more information.

How can I view records of civil, special proceeding, or estates cases?

Information about civil, special proceeding, or estates cases in the North Carolina court system can be accessed on the public, self-service terminals in the clerk of court’s office in any county. View a user’s manual for the system in which the information is stored. The file for a court case can be viewed by visiting the clerk of court’s office in the county where the case is located. Staff can provide copies of documents in court files for a fee.

How can I get copies of divorce judgments?

You can get a copy of a divorce judgment from the clerk of court’s office in the county where the divorce was granted for a fee.

How can I get copies of birth, marriage, divorce, or death certificates?

The Register of Deeds in the county where the event took place may be able to provide a copy of a birth, marriage, or death certificate. You can also get copies of these certificates, as well as divorce certificates, through North Carolina Vital Records.

How can I get a marriage license?

Marriage licenses are available from the Register of Deeds. See the Marriage Help Topic for more information.

How can I get copies of police reports?

You can request a copy of a police report from a law enforcement agency that investigated or otherwise was involved in the case. However, the complete report may not be a public record and may not be available unless the rules of discovery in a criminal case require it to be provided.

How can I find real estate records or deeds?

Deeds and most other real estate records are kept by the Register of Deeds office in the county where the real estate is located. Many Register of Deeds offices have their own websites. You can find contact information for your Register of Deeds. The clerk of court’s office has records of court proceedings affecting real estate, such as records of foreclosures, evictions, partitions, and condemnations, as well as estates, divorces, judgments, and liens on real property.

Court Transcripts

What is an official court reporter?

An official court reporter is a certified professional who makes a word-for-word record of court proceedings and may prepare typed transcripts from that record for purposes such as appeals. Official court reports are approved either by a senior resident superior court judge or the Administrative Office of the Courts. A list of official court reporters is found here.

What is the difference between a court reporter and a transcriptionist?

A transcriptionist listens to an audio recording of a court proceeding to prepare a written transcript. A transcriptionist does not usually attend the court proceeding, but rather listens to an audio recording made by the clerk in the courtroom.

On the other hand, an official court reporter attends the court proceeding and is trained to use special technology to make a word-for-word record of the proceeding. For example, court reporters may use stenotype machines or voice writing. Voice writing is the process of echoing the spoken words of a proceeding into a special, mask-like device that is connected to a computer. As the court reporter speaks into the machine, the computer software translates the spoken word into a transcription, which is then reviewed by the court reporter upon the conclusion of the proceeding.

What is an official transcript?

An official transcript is a typed version of the word-for-word recording of a court proceeding prepared by an official court reporter or transcriptionist on this list.

When is a transcript prepared?
A transcript is prepared at the request of a party and requires the payment of fees to the transcriptionist or court reporter to prepare the typed version. Typically, transcripts are prepared for appeals. If you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney on appeal, transcript fees will usually be advanced on your behalf for an appeal. Under some circumstances, however, you may be ordered to reimburse the court for such transcript fees.

How are transcripts used on appeal?

The transcript gives the appellate court a word-for-word record of what happened in the trial court. Also, when making arguments on appeal, the parties cite to certain portions of the transcript to support their positions.

Are all court proceedings recorded?

No. For example, criminal district court proceedings (other than pleas in H and I felonies) are not recorded unless ordered by a judge. Appeals from criminal district court go to superior court for a new trial (rather than a review of the record of what happened in district court), so a transcript is unnecessary for that purpose.

How do I order a transcript?

  • If you have an attorney, talk with your attorney about this process. You may be entitled to a transcript without paying costs in advance if you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney on appeal.
  • If you are not eligible for a court-appointed attorney on appeal and need a transcript for an appeal, you should consult with an attorney. The Rules of Appellate Procedure contain several requirements including deadlines associated with transcripts on appeal. These requirements differ by case type (e.g., juvenile, civil, criminal).
  • If you want a transcript for purposes other than appeal, you should contact the court reporter who was present during your proceeding and arrange to pay his/her fee for preparing the transcript. Court reporters set their rates independently, so questions about rates should be referred to the individual court reporter. If there was no court reporter present during the proceeding, there may be an audio recording available from the clerk.

If the clerk made an audio recording of the proceeding, how do I request a copy?

You may request a copy of the audio recording from the clerk’s office in the county where the case is filed. In a case type that is not confidential, you may make the request on Form AOC-G-114. You will be charged for the actual cost of a CD if the recording is available. Some court proceedings are confidential, like juvenile cases and involuntary hospitalization cases. In confidential cases, you must request permission from the court for a copy of the recording on Form AOC-G-115.