Court records are generally open to the public, with several exceptions.
The following records are not open to the public without a court order or a special provision of the law:
- Guardianship terminating parental rights
- Juvenile delinquency
- Child in need of assistance cases (CINA)
- Certain marriage license information
- Emergency mental health evaluations
- Income tax returns
- Financial statements filed in a case about spousal or child support.
- Reports filed by a physician concerning the medical condition of an alleged disabled adult
- Reports filed by a guardian concerning the property of an alleged disabled adult
What Are Court Records?
Court records include:
- Other things that the court maintains in connection with a case
- Information found online on Maryland Case Search
How Can I Get Court Records?
Paper Records: Court records are kept at the courthouse where the case was heard. With a few exceptions, anyone may view the records in person at the clerk’s office. Provide the clerk with the case number for the court record you wish to view. If you do not have the case number, the clerk may be able to locate the file with the names of the persons involved. You may request a copy of documents in the file. There is a fee for copies. You may call the courthouse to ask if the record you need is available at that location. Click here for a list of court locations and phone numbers.
Electronic Records: Certain court records may also be accessed electronically.
- Maryland Judiciary Case Search (“Case Search”) is the primary way that the public may search for records of court cases. The information in Case Search is a summary of what is contained in the official case file. Case Search is a good way to get some general information about a case such as the case number, dates, and type of case. View the case file in the clerk’s office for a complete record. A list of frequently asked questions about Case Search is available here.
New: Some information about criminal cases is no longer available on Case Search but may still be accessed by the public. Visit the courthouse to view these records:
- Any criminal charge where the outcome was nolle prosequi, dismissal, or acquittal/not guilty.
- District Court cases involving possession of marijuana with a disposition of October 1, 2014 or earlier.
- Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) allows users to electronically view and file documents in a court case to which they are a party. Lawyers are required to use MDEC. The public is NOT required to use MDEC. Members public may request access to MDEC subject to certain rules. Some courts may have an MDEC kiosk that the public may use to view court records. Read more about MDEC here.
- Estate Search is where you can look up information about the estate of someone who has died. More information about estates is available through the Register of Wills.
- Land Records – Records about real property are available online through mdlandrec.net. You must create a free account to view land records online. Read more about land records here.
In some instances, you may be able to ask the court to keep some or all information in a case private. There are several different ways to ask that the court limit public access to a case record, depending on your situation. You may see or hear the terms seal, shield, and expunge, depending on the type of case. These terms all refer to keeping certain information in a case private or, for expungement, destroying case records.
The court may only grant a request to limit the public’s access to a case file if that request meets certain requirements. You must prove to the court that your request meets the requirements.
To request to shield a peace or protective order, or to request that the court seal another type of civil case, see the brochures linked below.
- What can the public see about me in court records and on Case Search? (pdf) [Text]
- Can I keep the public from seeing information about me in a court case? (pdf) [Text]
- Can I keep the public from seeing information about me in a peace or protective order case? (pdf) [Text]
To shield a Failure to Pay Rent case filed on or after March 5, 2020 and before January 1, 2022, you should use form DC-CV-116. To be eligible for shielding, the COVID-19 pandemic must have affected your income and ability to pay rent, leading to your landlord filing the Failure to Pay Rent case.
If your case meets certain conditions, you may be able to ask the court to expunge a criminal record or juvenile record. Expungement removes information about a case from court and law enforcement records. To learn more, see Expungement.
If you were convicted of one or more crimes from a specified list, you may ask the court to keep those records out of public view. To learn more, see Shielding Criminal Records.
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.
NOTE: CaseSearch should not be used for criminal background checks.
Refer to the publications above for complete information about the court forms and procedures you need to follow in dealing with court records.
Some information in a court document is automatically kept private by law. A separate request to keep the information private is not required. In these cases, you may need to let the court know if a document you are filing has legally protected information such as a social security number or tax return. Read about notifying the court of restricted information.
Last updated: June 2021