Case Search - Frequently Asked Questions
THE INFORMATION MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH CASE SEARCH SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PERFORMING BACKGROUND CHECKS ON AN INDIVIDUAL. See Question 6, below. THE JUDICIARY ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR USE OF THE INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM CASE SEARCH.
1. What is Case Search?
Case Search provides Internet access to information from Maryland case records as described in the Maryland Rules on Access to Court Records (Rules 16-901 through 16-912). In January 2006, Case Search was introduced to satisfy information requests commonly received in the court clerks’ offices. This information includes names of parties, city and state, case number, date of birth, trial date, charge, and case disposition. Case Search includes detailed case information for all Maryland Circuit and District Court Case Management Systems.
2. What records are available on Case Search?
Maryland District Court traffic, criminal, and civil case records and Maryland Circuit Court criminal and civil case records are available. The amount of historical data may vary by jurisdiction based on when an automated case management system was deployed and how the system in that jurisdiction has evolved. See FAQ 4 for dates.
What records are not on Case Search?
All case types protected by the Maryland Rules on Access to Court Records.
3. How current is the information in Case Search?
Case information is entered into the system by the clerk's office and is reflected on Case Search almost immediately upon entry with the exception of Montgomery County Circuit Court which is delayed by approximately 10 minutes. The time when a clerk enters case information into the system varies by jurisdiction.
|Allegany County||Civil 06/02/1997||Criminal 09/07/1999|
|Anne Arundel||Civil 1991||Criminal 1989|
|Baltimore City||Civil 11/23/1998||Criminal 1993|
|Baltimore County||Civil 06/01/1995||Criminal June 1984|
|Calvert County||Civil 10/06/1997||Criminal 04/10/2000|
|Caroline County||Civil 10/01/1998||Criminal 10/10/2000|
|Carroll County||Civil 1991
|Cecil County||Civil 06/03/1998||Criminal 04/12/2000|
|Charles County||Civil 08/23/1996||Criminal 10/26/1998|
|Dorchester County||Civil 03/24/1998||Criminal 09/11/2000|
|Frederick County||Civil 02/09/1998||Criminal 03/13/2000|
|Garrett County||Civil 11/03/1997||Criminal 10/04/1999|
|Harford County||Civil 05/04/1998||Criminal 06/21/1999|
|Howard County||Civil 04/23/1997||Criminal 05/04/1999|
|Kent County||Civil 08/03/1998||Criminal 05/08/2000|
|Montgomery County||Civil 1978||Criminal 1979|
|Prince George's County||Civil 07/01/1986||Criminal 1982|
|Queen Anne's County||Civil 03/29/1999||Criminal 12/04/2000|
|Saint Mary's County||Civil 07/01/1997||Criminal 03/06/2000|
|Somerset County||Civil 02/16/1999||Criminal 12/11/2000|
|Talbot County||Civil 03/30/1998||Criminal 06/26/2000|
|Washington County||Civil 07/17/1997||Criminal 11/01/1999|
|Wicomico County||Civil 10/14/1997||Criminal 08/07/2000|
|Worcester County||Civil 11/16/1998||Criminal 10/23/2000|
Traffic case records:
Closed traffic case records that are considered minor infractions and which don't have serious consequences are sent to the history database after 36 months and will not appear on Case Search, however, a traffic case record can be pulled back into Case Search at any time by the clerk's office and will remain on Case Search for 30 days. Serious violations which require you to appear in court, such as driving while under the influence, can be considered major criminal offenses and are not sent to the history database and will remain on Case Search indefinitely. In January 2013, all serious citations from January 2006 (when Case Search was implemented) forward were moved back to production and made available on Case Search.
6. Can I use Case Search to run a criminal background check?
Case Search should not be used for criminal background checks. Background checks should be conducted through the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) of the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services which maintains Maryland’s fingerprint-supported criminal identification records and criminal history record information. To learn more, see Background Checks on the Department's Web site.
8. Are Federal and state tax liens available on Case Search?
Federal and state tax liens are recorded in the circuit courts, however, the data may not be available in Case Search, depending on the process used by the court to record the liens. To determine whether a court is recording Federal and state tax lien data for Case Search, you must contact the court directly.
1. How do I obtain additional case information?
You can obtain additional case information at the courthouse where the case record is on file. Requests must be made in person or in writing. The clerk's office cannot accept telephone requests.
For court locations and contact information, see the Courts Directory.
2. I believe some information is inaccurate. Whom do I notify?
If you believe information provided is inaccurate, please send written notice to the court where the original record was created or filed. For court locations and contact information, see the Courts Directory.
3. Can I get records removed from public inspection?
There are three ways that information contained in a court record can be removed from public inspection: certain information in a record can be shielded, the record can be sealed, or the record can be expunged.
For more information on shielding case information and sealing case records, see Access to Court Records.
For more information on expunging records, see Expungement.
4. Why can't I find the company name when searching?
In a limited number of cases they may not be recognized as a company. Try the Person Search and enter the Company name in the last name field.
5. I don’t understand some of the legal words written in the case results. Where can I get help?
See the Glossary for a list of court terms and definitions. You may find helpful information in The Journalist's Guide to Maryland's Legal System, or you may wish to consult someone with a legal background.
6. I keep getting the message: "The result set exceeds the limit of 500 records. Please narrow your search.”
When a search exceeds 500 records, Case Search returns the first 500 cases pulled from the database which may not include the record you are seeking. You should narrow your search by including other information such as the filing date range, first name, court, case type, etc.
7. How can I verify a trial date when I am not the defendant and do not remember the defendant's name?
Case Search allows you to search for a case by related party names such as the attorney, the plaintiff, etc. The case detail will provide the trial date if one has been set.
8. How can I find out what the abbreviations mean in the Event History of a District Court case record?
There are numerous codes (abbreviations) used by the clerks to identify events in a District Court case record. The codes entered in a case record may vary according to jurisdiction. A sample of an event history is illustrated below:
|Event History Information
The abbreviations and comment codes are explained below. Semi-colons are used to separate comments.
|DOCI||08/17/1993||SC ISSUED 930817|
|document issued||date entered into system||statement of charges issued 930817 (August 17, 1993)|
|initial appearance||date of hearing/date bond received; bail amount; defendant status bond code; percentage required; commissioner/judge id#|
|committed||date of commitment order; incarceration location|
|RELS||08/17/1993||DEFENDANT RELEASED FROM COMMITMENT|
|released||defendant released from commitment|
|BOND||08/18/1993||930817;00000500.00;CASH; ; ;100|
|bond posted||date bond set; bail amount; type of bond code; percentage posted|
For more information on event codes/descriptions, see:
- criminal event codes and descriptions
- traffic event codes and descriptions
- civil event codes and descriptions
9. What does the message “No electronic record exists or case not subject to electronic inspection” mean?
The message appears when there is no case record, or when a case record exists but the information is not publicly available. For more information about the message, see the Judiciary's press release issued May 17, 2011.
1. What is a Judgment? What is a Lien?
A Judgment is a decision by a court of law that may include ordering someone to pay a certain amount of money.
A Lien is an encumbrance on one person's property to secure a debt the property owner owes to another person.
2. What records are available on Judgments/Liens?
Indexed information such as defendant/plaintiff name, disposition of case, original date, status date, indexed date, etc., is available, however, it does not include District Court records or records from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County.
3. Which jurisdictions are currently included in Judgments/Liens?
Currently all the circuit courts are available with the exception of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County.
5. Why are there two searches options - by Company and Person?
Search by Person searches judgments/liens against Persons and Companies. Search By Company searches judgments/liens against Companies only.
6. How far back does the data for each jurisdiction go?
See the Case Search FAQ #4.
1. What is EstateSearch?
EstateSearch provides public Internet access to information from estate records maintained by the Maryland Registers of Wills. This information includes decedent’s name, estate number and status, date of death, date of filing, personal representative, attorney, decedent alias, and docket history.
2. What records are available on EstateSearch?
All records are available from 1998 to present for all estates filed with the Register of Wills’ office. Below is a list of the estate types and a brief description.
List of Estate Types
- Regular Estate (RE) - Assets subject to administration in excess of $30,000 ($50,000 if the spouse is the sole legatee or heir).
- Regular Estate Judicial (RJ) - A proceeding conducted by the Orphans' Court when matters cannot be handled administratively. For example, when the validity of the will is at issue, or the will is lost, stolen or damaged.
- Small Estate (SE) - Assets subject to administration valued at $30,000 or less ($50,000 if the spouse is the sole legatee or heir).
- Small Estate Judicial (SJ) - A proceeding conducted by the Orphans' Court when matters cannot be handled administratively. For example, when the validity of the will is at issue, or the will is lost, stolen or damaged.
- Foreign Proceeding (FP) - Decedent domiciled out of state with real property in Maryland.
- Motor Vehicle (MV) - Transfer of motor vehicle only.
- NonProbate (NP) - Property of the decedent which passes by operation of law such as a joint tenancy, tenants by the entireties, or property passing under a deed or trust, revocable or irrevocable. Non probate property must be reported to the Register of Wills on the Information Report or Application to Fix Inheritance Tax on Non-Probate assets.
- Unprobated Will Only (UN) - Will and Information Report filed with will and/or Application to Fix Inheritance Tax.
- Modified Administration (MA) - A procedure available when the residual legatees consists of the personal representative, spouse; and children. Estate is solvent, Final Distribution can occur within 12 months from date of appointment. A verified final report is filed within 10 months from the date of appointment.
- Guardianship Estate (GE) - Guardianship of property for a minor.
- Limited Order (LO) – A limited order to locate assets or a will.
4. How far back can you inquire about cases on EstateSearch?
Records are available starting from 1998 to Present for all jurisdictions. Some counties have gone back even further and entered some older estates.
7. How can I find the meaning of some of the terms in EstateSearch?
See the Glossary of EstateSearch terms.
8. How do I obtain additional case information?
You can obtain additional estate information at the Register of Wills’ Office in the County where the estate record is on file. Requests must be made in person or in writing. For court locations and contact information, see: http://www.registers.state.md.us.
- Use a % as a wildcard when searching in a field (Smith%) would give you all names that start with Smith, Smithson, Smithsburg, Smithman, etc.
- When searching for a date range you need to enter a last name or first name (partials allowed)
- You can sort the columns by clicking on the column header.
- Click the Search again option to take you back to your previous search criteria.
- Use the clear button to clear all fields and begin your search again.
10. Why can’t I find the Estate when searching by estate number?
You will need to provide a full 12 (twelve) character estate number. If you have an estate number with less than 12 characters, please provide leading zero’s to provide a full 12 character estate number. (Ex: 000000123456, 000000W21001, 000123-12-09)
11. I keep getting the message: “The result set exceeds the limit of 500 records. Please narrow your search.”
When a search exceeds 500 records, Estate Search returns the first 500 cases pulled from the database which may not include the record you are seeking. You should narrow your search by including other information such as the filing date range, first name, case type, etc.
12. Who do I contact if I have questions about EstateSearch?
For assistance, please contact your Register of Wills Office. See www.registers.state.md.us for court locations and contact information.