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What are Utah Criminal Court Records?
Utah criminal court records refer to official documents and records that contain details of in-court criminal case proceedings from the time of charge to judgment. These records provide information and abstracts as regards the criminal case, including motions, briefs, citations, summons, audit reports, exhibits, progress dockets, transcripts, depositions, as well as other data and information written or recorded electronically. Compliant with the Utah Court Record Rule (4–202.02), criminal court records not sealed or expunged are public records, and can be viewed, inspected, and copied by citizens pertinent to their rights.
What’s Contained in a Utah Criminal Court Record?
Most criminal court records share similar index information which includes:
- Case information - case number, case status, and case party names
- Attorney or licensed paralegal practitioner name
- Licensed paralegal practitioner name
- Criminal violation type
- Criminal disposition
- Daily calendar
- Case filing date
- Name of the presiding judge
- Inmate records or information on past crimes of the defendant
Understanding the Utah Criminal Court Structure
The Utah State Constitution tasks the judicial branch with the interpretation of the state’s law through a fine legislative process carried out by the various courts with differing powers in the state. These courts oversee the resolution of public and private disputes that may arise within their respective jurisdiction. The state operates a simple court system composed of two appellate courts - Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; and three trial courts - District, Justice, and Juvenile courts. The state is also host to federal district courts which hear cases pertaining to selected federal crimes.
Composed of five justices, the Supreme Court constitutes the court of final authority over appeals from lower courts. Such appeals may include all capital offenses and first-degree felony cases decided at the district courts. They also have exclusive jurisdiction over death penalty cases. The Utah court of appeals hears appeals from the district and justice courts involving criminal cases of less than a first-degree felony. The court also hears appeals transferred to it from the Supreme Court.
The district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction over all criminal cases. They also exercise appellate jurisdiction over cases originating from the justice courts. Utah Justice Courts are the courts of limited jurisdiction exercising jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases
How to Find Criminal Court Records in Utah
The appellate, district and juvenile courts are the courts of record in the state of Utah. Interested persons may access criminal court record filed in these courts through the following means:
- By submitting a record request in person
- By searching the state’s online court website
- By requesting for records via mail
How to Obtain Utah Criminal Court Records Online
Some courts provide online access to court records. For instance, the appellate courts maintain an online Case Search portal which enables members of the public to remotely access records from the comfort of their homes. However, a subscription is required for this service. Also, the courts provide Opinions and Arguments search tool on their website. Users are required to input/choose the case year, the case number, as well as the court name. Similarly, the district courts maintain a unified case search tool where criminal records may be examined, and copied. Subscription is also required and case-specific information is critical to search.
The district, juvenile, and appellate court reporters digitally record court hearings. Copies of each recorded hearing are available at the court location. Older records filed in the past 50 years or less in the appellate, district, juvenile, probate, and justice courts are archived in the state’s repository. Interested members of the public may utilize the case search tool provided by the Archived Court Records website.
Note that payment may be required before some records are accessed and if copies are requested, additional charges may apply.
Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
How Do I Access Utah Criminal Court Records in Person?
Step 1. Identify the Court and gather Relevant Case Information
Utah courts preside over a variety of criminal cases. The justice courts are usually the courts of interest in misdemeanor and traffic infraction case records while the district courts constitute the first courts of contact with felonies, misdemeanors, and other criminal matters. Cases appealed to appellate courts may be examined in the Supreme Court or court of appeals. After the establishment of the particular court’s location, requesting parties are required to gather relevant information pertaining to the case of interest. Such information includes the case number, year case was filed, and the complete names of the parties involved.
Step 2. Visit the Courthouse and Render a Record Request
Courts in the state of Utah provide local guidelines on the process of searching through their court case records. Most district courts provide self-help public terminals where requesters can search and view cases using the case number or party names. Viewing the public access terminal constitutes the easiest, most efficient method of accessing court records for free. However, in such instances where the case number is not known or the requester is unable to find the individual or the record in the terminal, a request for assistance may be made to the court custodian who may require a search fee before the request is processed. Furthermore, requesters who do not know how to use the self-help center may submit a written request to the clerk of court especially if copies are needed. Some courts provide online request forms that can be printed from the court website and filled before visiting the court to simplify the process. Other courts may provide this request form in physical paper format.
Step 3: Pay the Required Fees and Obtain Copies of Records
Viewing and inspecting court records using the public terminal or custodian search is generally free. However, there is a nominal fee for obtaining copies of criminal records and additional charges may apply if certified copies are also requested. The payment method and requirement varies from court to court and may depend on the number of pages intended to be copied. Prior to visiting the courthouse, requesters may contact the specific Courthouse to ascertain the payment requirements explored by the court.
How Do I Obtain Utah Criminal Court Records by Mail?
To obtain records by mail, the requesting party must first determine the specific court of interest and also gather relevant information. Some courts offer additional emailing services which may prove an easier method for internet-wise requesters. The clerk of court generally provides the mailing/emailing address and defines the steps necessary for exploring this option. To properly render an acceptable request, requests are required to send a written request which must include the case number, first name, last name, date of birth of one of the parties to the case, the specific document needed, a self-addressed stamped envelope, and a phone number to the criminal division of the court where the case was filed. For easy access, some courts provide a downloadable form that can be printed, completed and mailed to the court. Note that the processing fee must be paid before the clerk attends to a request hence it is advisable for the requester to contact the clerk to ascertain both the cost of the sought copies and the payment method accepted by the court.
Are all Utah Criminal Court Records Available Online?
The state of Utah has largely embraced the digital method of storage and retrieval of public court records, providing the state with a standard accessibility system. However, this embrace is not without precautions as case-specific information is required for access; and subscription is mandatory before explorers can attain access to copies of court records. How long ago a court record was filed/concluded is also a major determinant factor of the record’s online availability status. Court records older than 50 years may not be found online and can only be available in physical format at the secondary storage site where they are kept. Furthermore, there’s a mandatory restriction on sealed, redacted, and protected court records because online access does not protect the interest for which they were deemed confidential.
Can I Access Sealed Criminal Court Records in Utah?
Utah’s state rule defined some records as sealed, redacted, and protected and they encompass those records that are deemed confidential by statute or court order. Accessing such records by unauthorized individuals yields a negative result. To be authorized, the requesting party must petition the court for a motion to unseal the record and if the reason outweighs the primary benefit for which the record was sealed, a court order is issued. Furthermore, persons permitted by statute such as parties to the record, attorneys to the record, members of the law enforcement agency, victims, etc do not further authorization for permission.
How do I Obtain Utah Court Transcripts?
The federal, district, appellate, and magistrate court reporters maintain and release copies of transcripts to interested persons in the state. These transcripts are available for in-person requests only for a period of 90 days after which it may also be accessed electronically via the CM/ECF PACER system. To successfully order a transcript, the requester must complete a transcript order form at the courthouse. Requesting parties are advised to contact the specific court reporter to determine if the transcript is available. The ordering party is also required to pay for the transcripts before they are processed by the court reporter. In accordance with the schedule of transcript fees established by the judicial conference, the maximum fee per page of transcripts is $3.65 - $7.25. The payment method is also subject to the discretion of the court reporter.
Unexecuted summonses or warrants, pretrial or presentence investigation reports, juvenile records, identifying information about jurors, statement of reasons in the judgment of conviction, financial affidavit filed in need of a representation, sealed documents, among others are redacted from transcripts.