Hawaii Criminal Court Records
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What are Hawaii Criminal Court Records?
Hawaii criminal court records are official accounts (written or otherwise) that chronicle criminal case proceedings at Hawaii state courts. The records of a criminal court case include creating documents spanning complaints filed at the initiation of the trial to the final court judgement. In Hawaii, court clerks have custody of these records. While they are available to the public by default, some records are sealed by court order or state/federal statutes.
What Does a Criminal Court Record Contain?
The documents included in a criminal court record depends on case type, duration of trial, and jurisdiction. A typical Hawaii criminal court record will include these documents:
- Complaint and indictment;
- Hearing proceeding discussing probable cause and grounds of arrest;
- An arrest order;
- Payment receipts of court fees and related charges;
- Juror list for jury trials
- Written notice of rights of protection of the defendant;
- A written court judgement;
- Audio and/or written transcripts of court proceedings; and
- Notice of executed sentence
Understanding the Hawaii Criminal Court Structure
The Hawaii state court system is structured into two tiers which administer the four judicial districts in the state. These are the appellate and trial courts, the appellate being the higher court.
The appellate courts are further structured into the Supreme Court and the Intermediate Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court represents the administrative head and highest court in the Hawaii state judicial system. Both appellate courts hear first trial criminal cases and also appeals of criminal cases from the lower trial courts.
The trial courts of Hawaii state are the Circuit, Family, and District Courts. Of these, the Circuit and District Courts hear criminal cases. The District Courts have jurisdiction over:
- Criminal cases with penalties up to a maximum of one-year jail term
- Preliminary hearing of probable cause (that is, to provide grounds for the lawful arrest of the offender)
There are 10 District Courts in all 4 judicial districts of Hawaii. These are presided over by 30 judges and several per diem (part-time) judges as needed.
How to Obtain Hawaii Criminal Court records
Hawaii Circuit and District Court criminal court records are accessible to the general public. Members of the public can view and/or obtain copies of these records in person, by mail, and online.
To find Hawaii criminal court records in person, visit the courthouse that heard the case and provide relevant information to help court staff quickly find and retrieve requested records. Required information include full names of the person(s) involved in the case, case ID number, and the status of the case (active or closed). Visit the courthouse during business hours to submit an application to the clerk.
To request Hawaii criminal court records by mail, download and complete a request form for the court where the case was heard and mail it to the clerk of that court. Call the clerk’s office to enquire about the cost of court record copies and other requirements for obtaining them.
There are two online portals for accessing criminal court records in Hawaii. The first one is the Judiciary Electronic Filing and Service System (JEFS). This is restricted to authorized users and may provide access to some records considered confidential or sealed from public access.
Judiciary Information Management System (also known as eCourt Kokua), on the other hand, provides general public access. Anyone can view and order records available on this portal. Confidential or sealed records are unavailable on this site. Visit the eCourt Kokua to search for Hawaii criminal case records by the names of the parties involved or case IDs. The platform also provides a link for the public to view copies of court documents they purchased. Members of the public can also pay to subscribe to view and purchase criminal court records via this portal.
Additionally, publicly available records are 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.
Are all Hawaii Criminal Court Records Public?
Most of them are public records. However, certain criminal court records are confidential by Hawaii law. These include:
- Juvenile criminal case records;
- Adult Probation records
- Grand jury proceedings
- Mental health evaluation reports
- Substance abuse treatment records
- Records of pending cases
Some information may be redacted in publicly available records. Judges usually make these confidential to protect the identities and privacy of the parties concerned. Examples of confidential information in a typical criminal case file include social security numbers and identities of minors and victims of a state or federal crime.
Can I Access Sealed Criminal Court Records?
Criminal court records in Hawaii can be sealed by court order or state/federal statute. One or more parties involved in a criminal case may request the court to seal part or all of the records of the case. In such cases, criminal court judges weigh the need to maintain open records against potential or perceived damage to the parties involved when deciding whether to seal or keep court records open. Records of cases where the accused has been acquitted are expunged.
Sealed criminal records in Hawaii are only accessible to the parties involved, the legal representatives, and members of the judiciary administrative. To obtain information from sealed records, qualified persons above must present valid means of identification. A third party may access sealed records only with a court order authorizing access to those specific records. For expunged records, a copy of the expungement certificate is needed for access.
How Do I Obtain Hawaii Criminal Records?
Criminal history records in Hawaii are public records that are available and accessible as “Police Abstracts” or “Police Clearance”. Public criminal records in Hawaii are restricted to Adult conviction records or arrests that led to convictions. They can be found at designated police departments. These law enforcement agencies provide inmate records, name-based criminal history searches, and fingerprint-based criminal history searches.
The E-crim website is another portal for accessing and obtaining criminal records in Hawaii. Information about sex offenders are, however, not available on this website. After creating a user accounting and signing in, search for a Hawaii criminal record by providing name, gender, social security number, and date of birth. The Department of the Attorney General charges nominal fees for each search as well as copies of criminal records requested. Requested records can be delivered in person, by email, and by regular mail.