Arkansas Court Case Lookup
In Arkansas, a Court Case is a legal action taken to get justice, restitution, or compensation for a wrong or resolve a dispute. The person filing the complaint is called the plaintiff, petitioner, or prosecutor. The person who has allegedly done wrong is called the defendant or respondent. A court case can either be civil, criminal, small claims, juvenile or administrative. An Arkansas court case lookup refers to the process of accessing official accounts of these cases through state-owned or privately managed repositories.
The best place to begin a Court Case Lookup in Arkansas is at the Clerk's Office where the case was adjudicated. The inquirer may submit a request to the Clerk's Office physically, online, or via mail. A typical records request form should contain:
- The requestor's name and contact information
- The name and details of the document to be accessed
- A time frame the requestor is hoping to receive the documents
- Preferred method of document delivery (mail, email, or pickup).
Different courts have different procedures for requesting and obtaining court case records. CourtConnect is the authorized case management system provided by the Arkansas judiciary system for accessing Court Case documents online. Some circuit courts and district courts provide fully accessible records, which can be accessed online using the website while others have partial records available. The Western and Eastern District Courts in Arkansas also have their PACER accounts which provide residents access to court case records online at a cost. Court Case Lookup involving appellate courts can be done physically at the Clerk's Office located:
Appellate Clerk of Court's Office
625 Marshall Street
Suite 130, Justice Building
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 682-6849
It is important to note that inspecting and making copies of these records have charges attached that depend on the number of pages in the documents.
The process for conducting an Arkansas court case lookup varies with the court in question. The following are the types of courts in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Circuit Courts: These are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. They can also review decisions made by the district and city Courts.
- Arkansas District Courts: These courts have limited jurisdiction restricted to misdemeanors traffic violations and civil cases worth not more than $25,000.00 in compensation. The district courts have divisions called Small Claims Courts that resolve cases and disputes of less than $5,000.00.
- Arkansas City Courts: These have jurisdiction to resolve cases related to violations of city ordinances and laws.
The Arkansas Appellate Court system consists of:
- Court of Appeals: Appeals from the trial courts are reviewed here before being sent to the supreme court if the need arises.
- Supreme Court: This is the highest court in the State. It has the final decision over any case decided upon in Arkansas.
The Courts available in Arkansas include two Federal District Courts and Bankruptcy Courts or the Western and Eastern Districts. The Federal District Courts have general jurisdiction while the Bankruptcy Courts handle bankruptcy cases
Are Court Cases Public Record in Arkansas?
Yes. Court Cases are public records in Arkansas, although these records are available to only residents of the State according to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It is one of the few states that restrict non-residents from accessing or conducting public records searches. The act requires custodians of the records to make them available three days after the request has been submitted at a reasonable cost. Some exemptions listed by law include but are not restricted to:
- State income tax records
- Medical histories, adoption papers, and institutional records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 unless otherwise made public by law
- Files in the custody of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program or the Arkansas Archeological Survey
- Minutes of grand jury sessions
- Outlines of judicial or quasi-judicial statements
- Unpublished judgments
- Documents from undercover investigations by law enforcement agencies
- Unpublished memos, working articles, and mail created by the Executive, Legislature, or the Judiciary
- Documents protected or sealed by order or rule of court.
Can I Get Arkansas Court Case Documents Online?
Yes. Requestors of Arkansas Court Case documents can access them online using CourtConnect or PACER. Most counties also have authorized websites provided for members of the public to access these records. Inquirers can search for court case documents online using the name, case number, judgment, or, date. Requesters can also get court case records online via email. There are third-party websites that provide court case documents online for a fee. The information provided on these websites varies and is usually not reliable, as they are not sponsored by the government.
How to Conduct an Arkansas Court Search by Name
To conduct an Arkansas Court Search by name, the inquirer must provide the full name of the parties involved in the case. The individual interested in searching can do so physically at the clerk of the court's office or online via authorized websites provided by the court. The requester can also mail the name of the parties involved in a case to the clerk's office of the deciding court and request information about that case. The inquirer should note that there are charges attached to conducting a court search and it varies depending on the number of pages in the documents.
What is a Court Case Number?
A Court Case number is a distinct identification method used by courts to distinguish between cases filed under a court. Even though it is called a number, it usually comprises letters, characters, numbers, and hyphens. The case number is coded and has underlying meanings attached to it as decided by the clerk of court. The case number carries important information about a case and thus needs to be interpreted properly. A Case number usually shows the year of filing, the county and court location, the type of case, and the sequence in which it was filed.
How to Conduct a Case Number Search in Arkansas
In Arkansas, a case number search can be conducted by imputing the case number assigned by the court into online platforms such as CourtConnect to retrieve information about a case. In situations where the case number is not known, an inquirer can input the name of one of the parties involved in the case into the CourtConnect platform and retrieve the Case number assigned to the case. A requester in possession of the case number can search physically by visiting the clerk of court's office in the court where the case was decided upon. An inquirer can also send a request mail to the Clerk's Office containing a case number requesting records under that case number at a cost.
Arkansas Court Records Lookup
The most basic step an inquirer should take when trying to look up court records in Arkansas is to find out the court that resolved the case requested and then contact the Clerk of that court. Court records usually comprise:
- Minutes of Court proceedings
- Case files
- Court dockets
- Court orders and rulings
- Documentations of judgment
- Records and files generated by the jury
- Documentation of witness details.
To access records of cases decided at Arkansas District Court, use the Clerk Directory to contact the record custodian, and submit written requests or apply verbally. Records of cases tried at Circuit Courts can also be obtained from the Clerk’s Office at the presiding court. Records generated by appellate courts can be sourced physically or via mail at the Clerk's Office:
Appellate Clerk of Court's Office
625 Marshall Street
Suite 130, Justice Building
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 682-6849
There are also authorized online platforms such as CourtConnect and PACER that allow inquirers to look up court records for a fee. A list of courts that utilize CourtConnect to provide court records to the public can be accessed on the Administrative Office of the Court’s website
The inquirer will need to provide the full name of the parties involved in the case or case number to ease the search process. Court records lookup can also be conducted using the date of trial proceedings, name of the judge, and judgment given. Most third-party websites also provide public access to court records, although such records are not to be trusted as they may vary and are not reliable.
Inquirers should note that making copies and inspecting court records have charges attached that vary and depend on the number of pages available in the document. Moreover, Arkansas laws stipulate that the total fee be paid before accessing the records if it is more than $25.00. Custodians of court records have the power to waive fees for requested records if the purpose of the request is not commercial and serves the public interest.
How to Remove Court Cases From Public Record in Arkansas
The process of removing Court Cases from public records is called Sealing or Expungement of records. Sealing makes the records inaccessible to members of the public while expungement erases the records as though they never existed in the first place.
In Arkansas, only juvenile records can be expunged. All adult criminal and court records can only be sealed. Once a record is sealed in Arkansas, such record is inaccessible except by court orders and can legally be said to not exist. The court orders the records sealed from public view and it is categorized as confidential. It is important to note that the records will not be destroyed but remain accessible to the courts and government agencies. An individual must first check eligibility before applying for the sealing of records. The following records are eligible for sealing in Arkansas:
- An arrest in which charges have not been filed within one year from the date of arrest
- Charges that ended with, dismissal or acquittal
- A first offense for which the verdict was deferred and probation granted
- Offenses penalised with community service
- Misdemeanor infractions and infringements
- All non-violent Class C or D felonies
- Unclassified felony offenses
- Substance abuse Class A or B felonies
- Willingness to perpetrate, attempt to engage in, or plot to execute any of the aforementioned felonies
- A non-violent felony committed by a juvenile
- A prostitution offense involving a victim of human trafficking
- A conviction that received a Governor’s pardon.
Only a few felonies are eligible for sealing. Also, an individual can only qualify to seal a felony if they do not have more than one felony conviction. These felony offenses are not eligible for sealing:
- A Class Y felony
- A Class A or Class B felony except for the specified drug-related felonies
- An unclassified felony with a maximum sentence that is more than 10 years
- A sex-related felony
- A violent felony
- A felony that attracted a sentence to serve in the Department of Correction
- A felony traffic offense where the offender had a commercial learner’s permit or driver’s license at the time of the arrest.
Requesters should note that to qualify to seal a record, the offender must have completed the previous sentence, and paid all charges mandated by the court including full payment of restitution, court costs, and driver’s license suspension reinstatement fees.
The process involved in applying for the sealing of records is listed below:
- Obtain a copy of the Judgment and Commitment Order Form from the Clerk's Office at the court that decided the case.
- Pay the stipulated fees. The filing fee for a Petition to Seal is about $50.00. An individual that can prove financial need can have this fee waived by filing a forma pauperis. There could also be attorney fees if a lawyer is contracted.
- Retrieve Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) criminal history record for detailed information about the offender's criminal record.
- Provide and collate all of the necessary documents such as proof of sentence and probation completion, and receipts of fines paid.
- File a Uniform Petition to Seal in the Circuit or District Court that gave the previous verdict. The Arkansas Department of Public Safety provides petition forms on its website depending on the type of record to be sealed.
- Submit the appropriate form to the Clerk's Office. There is usually no fee attached to the filing of petition forms.
- Submit three copies of all required documents to the Circuit Court Clerks or District County Clerks in the county where the case was decided.
- File the petition and the supporting documents with the Clerk.
- Make copies of the filed legal forms available to the prosecuting attorney and the arresting agency.
Most criminal cases require that a specific period passes after the end of a sentence before the offender can apply for the sealing of records. There is no waiting period if the individual was convicted of:
- Prostitution as a result of human trafficking
- Most misdemeanors or violations
- A nonviolent Class C or Class D felony
- An unclassified felony
- Some Class A or Class B controlled substance felonies
- A non-violent felony committed by a juvenile.
An offender is expected to wait five years after completing the previous sentence to apply for sealing if they were convicted of:
- Class A negligent homicide
- Battery in the third degree
- Public exposure and sexual indecency
- Sexual assault in the fourth degree
- Domestic battering in the third degree
- A misdemeanor violation involving DUI( Driving under influence)
- A violent Class C or D felony.
In a case where the plea for sealing a record is approved of, a Uniform Order to Seal is filed with the Court Clerk who then makes copies available to the prosecutor, agency in charge of the arrest, the ACIC and the administrative office of the presiding court. If the petition to seal a misdemeanor or violation record is denied, the requester must allow 90 days to pass before submitting a new request. However for misdemeanors with a five-year waiting period, one must wait for one year before submitting a new request.
How to Check a Court Case Status in Arkansas
To check a court case status in Arkansas, inquirers can visit the court in which the case was filed and check with the clerk. They will need to provide the case number or name of the parties to track the status of the case. They can also track the case status using the date of trial and the name of the judge deciding the case. PACER and CourtConnect are also online platforms through which the status of a court case can be accessed. There is also an option of obtaining this information via mail from the presiding court.
How to Find Supreme Court Decisions in Arkansas
Arkansas Supreme Court decisions are called Opinions. They are public records according to the Arkansas FOIA and are thus accessible to members of the public. These decisions can be assessed online using the authorized website provided by the court. These records can also be obtained from the Appellate Court Clerk in person or via mail.
What Percentage of Court Cases Go to Trial in Arkansas?
A small percentage of all filed cases eventually go to trial. The Arkansas Judiciary annual report for 2020 showed that 1,064,454 cases were filed in the district courts, 186,254 in the circuit courts, 962 in the appeal court and 310 in the Supreme Court in 2019. Most of the cases were resolved before trial, dismissed, or ended in nolle prosequi.
How Long Does a Court Case Last in Arkansas?
There is no specified time frame for court cases in Arkansas. The length of time for a case to be resolved depends on the type of case, peculiarities surrounding the case, crime committed, parties involved, and decision of the presiding judge. Most cases can last for days or weeks whereas others can take years to get a judgment
How to File a Case in Court in Arkansas
Filing a case in Arkansas is the beginning of all lawsuits. The plaintiff, petitioner, or prosecutor is in charge of filing a complaint with the appropriate court. To file a complaint, the individual must first fill out a complaint form. The cost of filing a complaint in the Arkansas federal district court is about $402.00. Requesters with proof of financial need can ask the court to file the case without prepayment of charges ( forma pauperis). The plaintiff filing a case is required to serve the defendant copies of the petition within a stipulated period and submit proof of service to the court clerk's office.
What Does It Mean if a Court Case Was Resolved Before the Trial Date?
If a court case is resolved before the trial date, it simply means the case was discarded through other means other than a jury trial. This can happen when the parties involved in a civil case settle without needing a bench trial or if a defendant charged with violating the law accepts a Plea bargain.