In most cases you can locate a court file either via the court's online or by going to the court location where the case was tried.
Obtaining Copies of Court Records Online - for Civil, Probate, and Small Claims cases. for these limited categories case documents are available online at: https://roa.sdcourt.ca.gov/roa
Small Claims Files - Requests for copies, tapes or CDs can be made in person or by mail. In person at the courthouse or branch location where the record is located. By mailing a request for copies to the office where the record is located, along with appropriate fee. The filed are only retained for a limit period of time.
Obtaining Copies by Mail - Copies can be obtained by sending a letter to the court facility where the case was tried.The letter should include the Case Number, Names of Participants, and Names of the Documents of which you would like copies. Be aware that an additional research fee may be charged if it takes the court clerks more than 10 minutes to locate the requested file and documents.
Payment for copies requested my mail - You must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with sufficient postage to have your copies sent to you by Mail. If you do not know how many pages are in the documents that you are requesting or whether a research fee will be charged, make your check payable to "Superior Court" and write on the Memo line Not to exceed $ _____ (on the Memo line you can specify an amount: $20, $30 or whatever you think will cover the cost). To pay by credit card, use the Credit Card Payment form which is available on the Court website at: SDSC Form #ADM-253. A receipt indicating the fee charged will be mailed back to you with your copies. Copy requests received by mail may take several weeks to process.
Traffic, Minor Offense or Misdemeanor - If you are searching for records of vehicle code violations, some local municipal ordinances, infractions, or misdemeanors, you need to call or go to the court facility where your case was tried. These files are not available on-line. These records are stored at the court facility only for a short time before being housed at an off-site location. It could take several days to retrieve the records and there will be a fee charged for retrieving the record if it is in storage. In most cases, infraction records are destroyed after three years, misdemeanor traffic records are destroyed after five years and DUI (misdemeanors) are destroyed after 10 years.
Civil, Criminal (Felony Only), Domestic (Family Court), Mental Health or Probate - Case Files 1974-Present can be located either using the court's online case search or going to the court location where the case was heard. Case Files - Pre-1974 /Archived Records can be obtained only by going to the court location where the case was tried. The court's Central Division Central Records houses case indexes dating from 1880 to mid-1974. Indexes from 1880 to 1964 are in large, hardbound books. Post-1964 records are available on computer-generated indexes.
Juvenile Court Files - All Juvenile Court records are confidential. The minor, his or her parents or legal guardian(s), and attorneys of record may obtain copies of court minutes and selected court documents by appearing at the appropriate counter with photo identification. The records will not be mailed.
How to View a Court File: The public may request and view a file by filling out the required court form and showing a valid driver's license or other valid photo I.D. which court staff will record. All files must be viewed within the records section of the court's business office. Files cannot be removed from the court.