What are Alaska Criminal Court Records?
Alaska criminal court records are formal compilations of reports and documents of criminal case proceedings held in Alaska state courts. These include paper documents and photos as well as video and audio recordings. Criminal court case files also contain forensic evidence and other materials of legal significance. Criminal court records in Alaska are related to but different from Alaska criminal records. The latter comprise individual criminal histories and inmate records documented by state law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities. The Department of Public Safety, Criminal Records, and Identification (R&I) Bureau is responsible for managing the Alaska criminal record database.
What does a Criminal Court Record contain?
The nature of the case, the extent of the charges, and the outcome of the trial determine the contents of a criminal court file. A typical criminal court record may contain the following:
- Original copy of an affidavit written in support of a probable cause
- An executed arrest warrant
- Court summons and filed complaints
- Official receipts of court service fees- bail, fines, filing fees, restitution, and payments as pertained to judgments.
- Judgment mittimus (An order to present the convicted party for the penalty, usually imprisonment or incarceration)
- Notice of legal rights of the offender
- Probation orders
- Documents relating to programs for youth Offender (in Juvenile cases) and evaluation of the offender’s competency to stand trial
- Reform programs such as
- Alcohol Education Program
- Accelerated Rehabilitation
- Family Violence Education Program
- Drug Education Program
Understanding the Alaska Criminal Court Structure
Alaska runs a centralized administrative court system, with 40 courts in 38 boroughs. The Alaska court system is primarily stratified into two levels: the appellate courts and the trial courts. The appellate courts comprise of the Alaska Supreme Court (constitutionally established by the state) and the Court of Appeals while the District Court and the Superior Court make up the trial courts.
The highest-level court in the state is the Supreme Court and plays a key administrative role for all courts in the state, such as determining rules in terms of practice and procedure in both criminal and civil cases and adopting rules for general legal practice in the state. It hears appeal cases from other state courts, and based on discretion may hear petitions from criminal cases from the Court of Appeals.
The Alaska Court of Appeals exercises jurisdiction over appeals on final decisions on criminal cases from both the superior and district courts.
The Alaska Superior Court has general jurisdiction over appeals from the state’s District Courts and certain first-appearance criminal cases. There are 4 judicial districts in Alaska comprising District and Magistrate Courts. Twenty-one (21) district judges administer the district courts.
District courts are where most felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions are processed. They exercise jurisdiction over:
- Violations of county rule, misdemeanors, and minor offenses;
- Search and arrest warrants as well as issued summons;
- First trial felony cases;
- Cases involving domestic violence;
- Presumptive death cases and inquests.
Magistrate courts handle cases in areas of the state where the services of a full-time district judge are not necessary or available. Although magistrate judges may be assigned to preside over court proceedings in more than one location in the county, they serve to support the district judge overseeing the area. There are 43 magistrates assigned to cities in Alaska. They exercise jurisdiction over the following potential criminal matters:
- Search and arrest warrants as well as issued summons;
- First trial hearing in felony cases;
- Formal civil cases not exceeding $10,000);
- Presumptive death trials and inquests;
- Issuing of writs of habeas corpus, i. e. a formal document protecting the rights of a person against illegal imprisonment,
- Proceedings of extradition (handing over of a fugitive to the law).
How to obtain Alaska Criminal Court records
Requests for copies of Alaska criminal records can be made:
- In person,
- By email/ fax
- By regular mail
Requests for records should be submitted to the records department or court clerk where the case was tried. To submit requests other than in person, the requestor must look up the mail address of the court in the court directory. The requestor must then complete and submit the appropriate request form. Available records include case files, audio recordings, and search warrant records. All requests for copies of court records are charged a processing fee, which varies depending on the purpose of the request indicated in the form. The Alaska court system does not provide transcript services to the public. However, audio recordings can be obtained at the office of the clerk in the court where the case was tried.
How to Find Alaska Criminal Court Records Online
Alaska state criminal records are for the most part accessible to the public online for free via the state court’s CourtView portal. A user can search for a criminal court record by case number, name of the defendant, or ticket/citation number from this portal. While most criminal court records are publicly available, some are sealed and deemed confidential. Confidential records, such as juvenile criminal case files, are not available online. Other reasons courts may restrict access to Alaska criminal court records include:
- Dismissal at the first hearing due to an error in charges or the absence of evidence
- Protecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial in a second related case
- Discharge and acquittal of all criminal charges
- The defendant is under 21 years of age
Please note that details of cases filed before 1990 may not be available online unless such a case is reopened. For details of cases before 1990, contact the court clerk where the trial was held.
Are all Alaska Criminal Court Records Public?
Most Alaska Criminal Court records are accessible by the public with the exception of those sealed by state statutes and court orders. By default, juvenile criminal court records are made confidential and sealed to prevent public access.
Can I Access Sealed Criminal Court Records?
Sealed criminal records are not accessible to the public unless by the parties involved. Such persons can only access the records at the courthouse and with a valid means of identification. A third party may access sealed court records if authorized by a valid court order granting access to those records.
How do I find Criminal Records in Alaska?
While state courts maintain criminal court records, criminal records in Alaska are maintained by the Criminal Records and Identification (R&I) Bureau of the Alaska Department of Public Safety. This agency provides criminal histories for a fee. It offers both name-based and finger-based searches. Visit the Background Check Requests page of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to request a name search or submit a fingerprint search request. The DPS charges $35 for each fingerprint-based search and $20 for each name-based search. Each extra copy of a criminal history report costs $5 if ordered alongside the first copy. An extra copy ordered at a later date costs $20. When submitting a request for a fingerprint search, make sure to include a completed FD–258 FBI fingerprint form with the subject’s fingerprints rolled onto it.
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 Obtain Federal Criminal Court Records Online?
In commitment to the right of public access to court information, the federal judiciary offers public online access for a small access fee to information or cases and dockets from federal appellate, bankruptcy and district courts in each state. Federal crime cases older than November 1st, 2004 are however unavailable. Requestors are required to create user accounts to access information. A directory of district courts listed by the state is available on the site. Members of the public can also request for trial transcripts and recordings for a fee.
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.