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What are Kansas Criminal Court Records?
Kansas criminal court records are documents that are generated and managed by the state judiciary to provide an official account of the judicial processes of Kansas criminal courts. They feature information regarding criminal court proceedings, including the offenses prosecuted as well as details of court motions and actions, court appearances, motion arguments, sworn statements, witness testimony and filed evidence. These are typically housed in the court's trial transcripts which also details the court's final verdict regarding each case as well as jail terms, fines and other penalties issued offenders who have been proven guilty. As per Kansas state laws, criminal court records may be made available to interested members of the public upon request unless sealed/deemed confidential by state law.
Understanding The Kansas Criminal Court System
The Kansas Judicial Branch is tasked with overseeing the interpretation and application of state laws in all state courts. As such, all state-operated courts in Kansas are unified under the Judicial Branch. While the administrative authority of the state courts is vested in the KJB which provides centralized support to all courts, all the four main courts in the state of Kansas, exercise varying judicial authorities. They include:
- The Kansas Supreme Court
- Kansas Court of Appeals
- Kansas District Courts
- Kansas Municipal Courts
- Kansas District Courts
- Kansas Court of Appeals
Most Kansas criminal cases are initiated in the District Courts which are the state’s trial courts of general jurisdiction. District courts operate from 105 counties organized into 31 districts. These courts each have six judicial departments which are typically assigned to a Supreme Court Justice and are tasked with hearing various criminal cases with only a few exceptions.
If the plaintiff finds the judgment of a District Court unsatisfactory, an appeal can be requested from the Kansas Court of Appeals which serves the state’s intermediate appellate court. The Kansas State Supreme Court functions as the court of last resort and hears appeals from the intermediate appellate court, and in selected cases, from the District Court. The verdict of the state Supreme Court is often considered to be final and binding.
What’s included in a Kansas Criminal Court Record?
Kansas criminal court records are designed to provide official accounts of court proceedings in criminal prosecutions. As such, they feature information regarding the offense and defendant as well as details of the legal processes, the court's final verdict and any reviews made by appellate courts. While most records contain similar information, this may vary depending on the case and the judicial district where the case was filed/heard. Generally, most Kansas criminal court records feature the following:
- Information regarding the offense of the defendant as well as details of its legal severity and associated laws which indicate this
- The biodata of the plaintiff and offender -- including their full names, address and contact information
- Related criminal history of the defendant (if relevant) including completed and ongoing sentences
- Results of the mental/psychological and physical evaluation of the alleged offender to support or question their ability to stand trial (if applicable)
- Any issued warrants pertaining to the arrest or property search of persons relevant to the alleged crime.
- Indictment information, details of court summons and the plea of the defendant.
- Details of court actions and motions, motion arguments, court appearances and miscellaneous documents contained in the trial transcript/docket
- Witness statements, sworn affidavits, the testimony of expert witnesses including any relevant documents/information that prove the competence of a witness (if necessary)
- Details of the court's final judgment including the penalties ascribed to the defendant -- i.e. jail terms, community service, probation, and fine, etc.
- Any revisions to the original judgment made by appellate courts (if applicable)
Obtaining Kansas Criminal Court Records
Pursuant to Kansas state laws, interested persons may obtain and view and obtain copies of criminal court records upon request. However, given that courts operate with unique legal processes, the requirements for accessing these records may vary from court to court. Most Kansas criminal court records can be accessed via three channels
- By making in-person requests to the record custodian
- Using state-managed, district-operated or third party online resources
- By sending written mail-in requests to the courthouse where the case was heard.
How Do I Find Kansas Criminal Court Records Online?
The Kansas Judicial Branch provides a variety of online resources with which interested members of the public can access criminal court records remotely. While there are multiple online repositories maintained by the state’s various judicial districts and corresponding courts, the options provided by the Kansas Judicial Branch allows users to obtain records from a central state-wide database. Given the restrictions on criminal court records, publicly accessible resources only feature public records and exclude any sealed, confidential or sensitive information/records. The Kansas eCourt features:
- The Kansas District Court Public Access Portal
- The Appellate Case Inquiry System
- The 3rd Judicial District Public Access System
Kansas District Court Public Access Portal
The Kansas District Court Records Search application is a service provided by Kansas.gov which features records of criminal cases heard by the state’s district courts. Frequent users may opt to subscribe for access to the online index by providing the requested information on the KanAccess Sign Up page; however, no subscription or pre-registration is required to access this service. Users of the KDCPA portal are generally charged $1.50 per record search conducted, while subscribers are billed on their KanAccess account.
To obtain a criminal court record using the portal, users may search the database by court type or using the case number of the record. Case number-based searches require the requestor to provide information regarding the county where the case was heard and the complete case ID in the format.
The Appellate Case Inquiry System
The Appellate Case Inquiry System features records of cases heard in Kansas appellate courts -- including the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The system features case information, and court opinions as well as a register of actions containing actions taken by legal representatives.
Users of the ACIS may search the portal by the name of the subjects of the record, the appellate case number of the record and the county where the case was heard. Requestors may also opt to provide the five or six-digit appellate case number for expeditious record retrieval.
Also available for public use are the 3rd Judicial District Public Access System, the 10th Judicial District Public Records tool and the 18th Judicial District Subscriber Access network. While the 3rd and 10 judicial districts both provide public access to case action register at no charge, the latter operated by Sedgwick county provides access to selected court case information for a fee.
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.
How Do I Access Kansas Criminal Court Records in Person?
Kansas criminal court records are also available to persons who make in-person requests to the courthouse where the case was filed/heard. The state judiciary enforces some restrictions on the dissemination of court records electronically. As such, sealed and/or confidential records are not available through the available online resources and must be requested in person. Given these restrictions, in-person record requests are recommended for accessing full court case information. To request a criminal court record in person, the requesting party is required to:
Find the Record Custodian
According to the provisions of Kansas state law, criminal court records are generated and managed by the various court clerks of the state district and appellate courts -- including the court of appeal and state Supreme Court. To request a criminal court record in person, the requesting party is required to locate the judicial district in which the case/appeal was heard as well as designated record custodian.
The location of a criminal court record is best determined by confirming the legal severity of the crime, and the current status of the case. Given that District Courts generally do not have jurisdiction over severe felonies and federal offenses, the case records of these offenses may be maintained by the state Supreme Court.
Similarly, records of cases that are ongoing are rarely available to persons other than the legal representative and the plaintiff/defendant. Where the trial has been concluded and a verdict issued, the record is usually in the custody of the court clerk of the courthouse where the case was heard. District court and their respective court clerks can be located using the Kansas Judicial Branch Find a District Court tool. The tool may also be used to obtain the contact information of these courts.
Where the initial verdict of a case has been reviewed by an appellate court, requestors may locate the record in the Kansas Court of Appeals or the State Supreme Court.
Gather All Relevant Information
Having verified the location of the record, the record custodian and/or the courthouse where the case was heard, requestors may proceed to contact the relevant office for information regarding any record retrieval requirements or processes that may be unique to the jurisdiction.
Since various Kansas judicial districts adopt unique management strategies, these districts often have distinct record retrieval requirements. These specificities notwithstanding, requestors are generally required to provide any and all information required to facilitate a record search. The information required generally includes the full name of the plaintiff and defendant, the case file number, appellate record number or docket number of the record and the approximate date the complaint was filed. In some cases, requestors are also required to present the names and bar identification number(s) of the legal representative(s) of either or both parties involved in the case.
Provide Identification & Fee Requirements
Generally, requestors are required to cover the costs of search and/or copies, as well as present a government-issued ID to verify their eligibility to access a record. This is especially important for persons who are requesting restricted records/or information. For the aforementioned requestors, access to sealed or confidential records also requires a court-issued subpoena providing the required authority needed to access the record. If the requestor is unable to provide a government-issued ID the, may access other forms of identification which must also be government-issued. However, this is primarily the prerogative of the custodian and should be confirmed before record requests are made.
Make the Request
Requests for criminal court records can be made during official working hours to the office of the record custodian. However, requestors are advised to schedule their appointment at the applicable courthouse beforehand to ensure the availability of materials and/expertise required for the search. Most courthouses provide public access computer terminals with which interested parties may self serve in the courthouse. However, if the requestor requires full court case information and/or a confidential record, the party may be provided with an application on which information regarding the record of interest should be indicated. Usually, in-person record requests are processed immediately.
How Do I Access Kansas Criminal Court Records via Mail?
Alternative to making in-person record requests, interested members of the public may request Kansas criminal court records via U.S. mail. Mail-in requests for criminal court records are processed by the office of the various state court clerks. However, records may only be disseminated via mail if the record of interest is public information. While the requirements for obtaining criminal court records generally varies by judicial district, case type and the information contained in the record, mail-in requests require that the requesting party provide a written request containing the following information:
- The personal and contact information of the requesting party
- The type of record required
- General court case information -- i.e. details of the initial filing and hearing
- The full name of one or both of the parties (plaintiff or defendant)
- The case file number, docket number or appellate number of the record of interest
- The names and/or state bar number of any of the legal representatives involved.
In addition to the above-mentioned information, some record custodians have specific protocols and additional requirements. Thus, requesters are advised to inquire from the office of the court clerk before proceeding with the request. In some cases, requests must also be accompanied by a cheque/money order to cover any applicable fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a photocopy of the requestor's government-issued ID.
Are all Kansas Criminal Court Records Public?
Kansas criminal court records and court case information which are accessible electronically are often assumed to be public record. These are sometimes maintained in dockets and trial transcripts they include the personal information of the complainant and defendant as well as details of the crime being prosecuted, court summons, warrants, court orders, actions, motions and motion arguments as well as dispositions as well as the final judgment with details of all ascribed penalties. Other information available to the public includes court minutes, schedules and calendars and all related records and information. However, in selected cases, criminal court records may be restricted from dissemination, deemed confidential or sealed by a court order.
In accordance with the Kansas Open Records Act, the right of the public to view criminal court records is not absolute. Following the exceptions, all criminal court records deemed ‘open’ may be accessed by interested members of the public. However, records that have been sealed on the request of the subject(s) or deemed confidential by court order are not available to all requestors but may be accessed by persons who meet specific eligibility requirements.
What Records are Automatically Sealed by Kansas State Statutes?
Following the exceptions of the Kansas Open Records Act, the dissemination of selected records is prohibited by law. While the state judiciary supports the right to access criminal court records, the state records law recognizes that specific information is privileged. Specific records may be sealed on the request of selected subjects. Some of these include:
- The identifying information of selected persons including juveniles and minors, abuse victims, selected witnesses and in some cases jurors
- Records of medical treatment and psychological evaluations
- The personal and contact information of selected restitution recipients
- All records and information protected by attorney-client privilege, records which follow the rules of evidence (i.e. evidence obtained through unlawful means)
- Selected criminal investigation records, preliminary drafts, etc.
- All records pertaining to vunerable persons including documentation of name and/or sex change
Can I Access Kansas Sealed Criminal Court Records?
Sealed or confidential criminal court records are available to persons who meet specific eligibility requirements according to the provisions of Kansas state law. The information accessible to the requestor depends primarily on the authority of the requesting party and the record in question.
Access to restricted criminal court records can be obtained by persons who challenge the confidentiality of the record or prove it’s relevance for legal or financial purposes. To access a sealed record, the requesting party can petition a Kansas licensed judge for a court order or subpoena authorizing access to the record of interest. In selected cases, the requestor may also be required to obtain and present notarized authorization from the subject(s) of the record. Generally, access to sealed or confidential records requires in-person requests made to the office of the record custodian. These records are not disseminated via the state’s online resources.
Are Kansas Juvenile Criminal Records Open to the Public?
Along with other records automatically sealed by state statutes, Kansas juvenile court records are confidential and are not accessible to members of the public with only a few exceptions.
Some juvenile criminal court records may be set aside or expunged according to the provisions of state law after a specific period has elapsed. Records which have been expunged are not accessible to members of the public regardless of their legal authorities. However, selected records that are sealed by state statutes may be released if the court consents to the dissemination of the record. Regardless of these restrictions, some information contained in juvenile criminal records may not be confidential. This includes details of the offense and its legal severity, and information pertaining to the court’s schedule, the personal information of the juvenile’s parents.
The following persons may be allowed access to Kansas juvenile criminal court records:
- The juvenile
- The parent(s), legal guardian and legal representative of the juvenile.
- Authorized court personnel
- Child protective services and social services providers
- The plaintiff/victim (in the case) their parents and legal representative(s)
- Relevant and authorized persons in the educational system
How to Find Kansas Criminal History Records
While criminal court records sometimes feature information pertaining to criminal history information, court records and criminal history may not be substituted for each other. Criminal court records are a summarized account of the litigation processes of criminal courts while criminal history records provide information regarding the criminal activity and conviction history of persons within the jurisdiction of the state.
Kansas criminal history records are managed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation which is tasked with disseminating the records to interested and eligible persons for a variety of purposes including employment.
While interested persons can conduct personal full personal criminal history background checks, third party requests are restricted. Interested persons can retrieve personal criminal history information by conducting name-based checks on the Criminal History Record Search tool. This requires users to preregister for a KanAccess account and pay a fee of $20. Requestors are required to provide their full name and other personal information. However, the records available using this tool may not be used for official purposes.
On the other hand, record checks on other people required the requesting party to either conduct the name-based search or request a finger-print based background check. These checks require that the subject provide a full set of fingerprints, and other personal information such as their full name, birth date, race, gender, and social security number. Alternatively, interested persons may request criminal history information via mail by completing and sending a Certified Record Check Request Form along with the indicated fees. Mail-in or in-person requests may be made to
Kansas Bureau of Investigation
1620 SW Tyler
Topeka, KS 66612-1837