What Information is Publicly Available About My Case?
What is publicly available about your case actually varies from state to state. Most states put civil cases online for the public to view. This can include:
- a small claims case,
- any form of debt collection,
- eviction challenge cases,
- medical malpractice cases,
- and personal injury cases (like car accidents and slip and falls),
Civil cases encompass any case in which one individual sues another. Family law cases, which are cases that involve spouses or children, are also likely to be put online in your state. These include guardianship battles, domestic violence cases, visitation rights cases, custody battles, paternity cases, and divorces. In some rare cases, it can even involve sexual violence cases, but only if you had a child living in the home at the time of the assault. Traffic violations are among the most common cases listed on public viewing websites and include:
- DUI (driving under the influence) violations,
- driving without insurance or a license violations,
- operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner violations,
- if the individual who was given a violation notice failed to show up in court for their hearing and have a warrant out for arrest
Often times, many websites restrict their resources to only let certain parties enter into the database. This includes people named in the case, individuals who have the case number, or lawyers who are members of the state bar association. However, some websites are completely available to the public. Legal publishers have access to a great deal of case information and would be more than happy to help if you reach out to them. They can search you in their available databases and let you know what comes up. In cases that do not involve murder, sexual assault, or any other heavily heinous act, you may be able to have some personal data revised in your public records. To do this you should visit your local county clerk and ask to review any of your public records that have been archived electronically. You should also ask what information is allowed to be redacted, removed, or changed within the laws of your county or state. Most of the time, you are allowed to have your phone number and Social Security number amended and list a P.O. box as your address instead of a street address. Also, be sure to check the UCC (or Uniform Commercial Code) database at the office as well. It will list your information on property ownership and typically contains social security numbers too, so try to get it removed from there as well.
Thanks to friends and contributors from Simba Information for their additional insight into legal publishing.