Illinois Court Records Lookup

The following is for information purposes only

Illinois Court Records

What types of courts are in Illinois?

Illinois has three main courts that make up the entirety of its trial and appellate court systems. The first level consists of local magistrates, these courts do not handle any jury trials and have relatively limited jurisdiction. The next level is the Circuit Courts, which are responsible for all of the trial cases in the state. The state's appeals court is the Illinois Appellate Court, which is overseen by the Supreme Court of Illinois.

How are Illinois court cases managed?

Court cases in Illinois are managed by the lowest court capable of making a ruling on the case, in accordance with the state's constitution. If an offense occurs in a local municipal jurisdiction, they may be able to hold a trial by the magistrate, or a bench trial, if the offense does not qualify as a misdemeanor or other more serious charge that may require a jury trial.

For more serious crimes or cases that involve more significant dollar amounts, the Illinois Circuit Court will have original jurisdiction. They will hand down decisions on all cases, both misdemeanor and felony, that are tried by a jury in the state. Appeals granted to Circuit Court decisions are taken on by the state appellate court. Cases that require deliberation on the constitutionality of laws or other discretionary appeal cases go to the Supreme Court of Illinois.

Which courts are in Illinois?

Municipal & City Court

These courts are common in small villages, towns, and cities. They only hear cases related to local ordinances, minor civil cases, and other cases that require only the smallest amount of legal intervention. Courts of this level can generally only set bail and begin processing those accused of more serious crimes.

Illinois Circuit Court

Illinois Circuit Courts are responsible for handling the majority of criminal, civil, domestic, and traffic cases for the state of Illinois. The Illinois Circuit Courts preside over a total of 24 judicial circuits, only 6 of which are composed of a single county, the rest being made up of between 2 and a dozen counties.  These courts hold original jurisdiction over any case, with only a select few exceptions.

The Illinois Circuit Courts actually share jurisdiction with the Supreme Court of Illinois when hearing cases of mandamus, prohibition, revenue, and habeas corpus. In these cases, however, the Supreme Court of Illinois can choose to exercise its jurisdiction. The Illinois Circuit Courts are tasked with overseeing and reviewing many administrative decisions that state agencies have made.

The judges for the Illinois Circuit Courts are divided into two types, circuit judges and associate judges. Circuit judges serve 6-year terms upon initially being elected, and can be retained for a second 6-year term. Associate judges are appointed by the circuit judges for their circuit. Circuit judges can hear any case, while associate judges can only hear cases where the potential sentence is one year or more.

Illinois Appellate Court

Any cases that need to be heard on appeal, whether they are civil or criminal in nature, flow from the Illinois Circuit Court to the Illinois Appellate Court. Cases heard and decisions rendered by the Illinois Appellate Court judges are binding for all lower courts in the state. There are three appellate judges that hear a particular case, and for a decision to be rendered two of the three must concur.

The Illinois Appellate Court has a total of 52 judges presiding over five appellate districts. Most of the judges are elected in local and county elections, with the rest being appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois. Decisions handed down from appellate judges are then heard by the Supreme Court of Illinois, whether criminal or civil.

Supreme Court of Illinois

The Supreme Court of Illinois is the absolute highest court in the state of Illinois. The authority granted to the court is derived from the state's constitution, which originally allowed for seven justices to be elected from the five judicial districts that make up the state. The justices are elected for a term of 10 years with a chief justice being elected from the members for a 3-year term.

The Supreme Court of Illinois has a relatively limited jurisdiction, and it also has final appellate jurisdiction. It claims original jurisdiction over any case where the constitutionality of a law or set of laws is called into question. The state of Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, and up until that point, the Supreme Court of Illinois also had the sole jurisdiction in capital punishment appeal cases.

What are the federal district courts in Illinois?

There are three federal districts in Illinois, as well as a federal appeals court. The federal district courts are the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The federal appeals court is the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

How to find electronic court records in Illinois?

There are several ways to go about finding electronic court records in Illinois. The first and generally most popular way is to simply search the county website for the circuit in which the offense occurred. If the offense occurred in Winnebago County, for example, the county that contains Rockford, you would start by searching the names of the party in the case on the county Justice Systems page. The state of Illinois also maintains a page for the public access of court records.