Public Records Information
The state of Delaware is located on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and covers an area of 1,982 square miles. The state is populated by 897,934 people, resulting in a population density of 401 persons per square mile. Delaware entered the union in December, 1787, and was the first of the original thirteen states to ratify the U.S. Constitution, later earning it’s state nickname of “The First State”. The capital city of Delaware is Dover. Located just outside the capital city is Dover Air Force Base, one of the main employers in the state. The largest employer, however, is the State of Delaware itself. Because of Delaware’s business friendly corporation and tax franchise laws, 50% of the publicly traded corporations in America are incorporated in Delaware, as well as 60% of Fortune 500 companies.
As in other states, Delaware conforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to provide public access to state documents and records in an effort to allow the citizenry to monitor the performance of state agencies and public companies. Information regarding official state decisions, the operation of state agencies and access to meeting minutes can be requested online. Records and documents maintained by most state agencies are also available. Reasonably, there is certain information that is exempt from the FOIA, such as personal medical files, intelligence records, trade secrets, pending litigation, public library users and other records that would infringe on personal privacy rights.
Delaware criminal histories and records are maintained by the Delaware State Identification Bureau, a division of the Delaware State Police. This would include crime reports, fingerprint records, firearm purchase approvals and the official state sex offender registry. These records can be requested individually through Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties. Procedures vary by county and are outlined on the Delaware State Police website.
Because there are a large number of the nation’s corporations and companies that file in Delaware, public access to state business records and assets are in great demand. Corporation and UCC filing information is available through the office of the Delaware Secretary of State. The Delaware Entity Search is available online and provides a database of both active and inactive entities. Another useful resource is the Recorder of Deeds office maintained by each county. These individual county web sites offer online document searches of land transaction records, corporate filings and financing statements.
Court Records Information
Delaware provides public access to many of the state’s court records. The state court system is broken down by individual courts such as Superior, Appellate, Family, Bankruptcy, Supreme, and Court of Common Pleas. The court system provides online database searches via the various court web sites. This information would also include records on civil judgments and liens, divorces and criminal cases.
Delaware's Alderman's court hears cases involving misdemeanors traffic and minor violations. Delaware's justice of the peace courts have jurisdiction over real property rights ($0/$15,000), small claims (where the amount in controversy ranges from $0-$15,000). Criminal justice court hears misdemeanor cases.
Family courts have exclusive jurisdiction over domestic relations matters. The justice of the peace courts have exclusive jurisdiction over juvenile matters, hear cases involving misdemeanors, traffic, criminal appeals and hold venue to preliminary hearings. Delaware's courts of common pleas hear tort cases, contract cases, real property rights cases ($0/$50,000), and other miscellaneous civil and civil appeals matters.
Superior courts hear torts, contracts, real property rights, mental health matters, civil and civil appeals, exclusive felony jurisdiction of misdemeanors and criminal appeals matters.
Chancery courts hear torts, contracts, real property rights matters, and mental health matters, has exclusive jurisdiction over estate matters.
State's highest court, the Delaware Supreme court has mandatory jurisdiction over cases involving civil matters, capital criminal matters, criminal matters, disciplinary matters, advisory opinions for the executive and legislature and original proceeding matters, has discretion to hear ("discretionary jurisdiction") cases involving civil matters, noncapital criminal matters, certified questions from federal courts, and interlocutory decision matters.