Hawaii State Court System
Understanding how the system of Hawaii state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.
Hawaii Courts Overview
The trial court system of Hawaii State consists of Tax Appeal Court, Land Courts, Family Courts, District Courts, and Circuit Courts.
To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Hawaii by simply going to courts by county.
Hawaii Circuit Courts
Hawaii Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction to handle all criminal and civil cases, including jury trials, but typically handle only those cases that other courts have no jurisdiction to handle.
Typical cases that these courts handle include abuse prevention, juvenile matters, guardianships, probate matters, domestic relations, felony criminal cases, and general civil cases with amount in dispute exceeding $10,000.
Circuit Courts have limited jurisdiction to handle civil cases with amount in dispute exceeding $20,000 exclusive of interest, fees and cost. They share jurisdiction over civil cases with disputed amount ranging between $10,000 and $20,000, excluding interest, fees, and costs with District Courts.
Circuit Courts also share jurisdiction with Family Courts over family law cases. Each Circuit Court also has a Girls Court for some cases that involve female juvenile offenders.
Hawaii District Courts
Hawaii District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of criminal and civil cases, but don’t offer jury trials. Criminal cases that these courts handle include traffic infractions, county ordinance violations and misdemeanors. District Courts share jurisdiction over some types of criminal cases with Family Court divisions. Some criminal cases may be transferred to a district Court by a Family Court.
These courts can also issue a restraining order against harassment. There is a Family Court Division in every District Court for handling domestic relations cases that a Family Circuit Court Judge has assigned.
They have jurisdiction to handle most civil cases with less than $20,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest, costs and fees. District courts have limited jurisdiction to handle most civil cases with less than $10,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and cost.
District Courts have Small Claims divisions for civil cases that involve recovery of amount below $3,500, excluding costs and interest. Small Claims division also have the authority to handle dispute over the return of leased or rented property and landlord-tenant security deposit disputes worth $3,500 or less if the amount disputed is less than $3,500, excluding costs and interest.
District Courts cannot handle jury trials and some certain types of cases, including false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation of character, slander, libel, and dispute over real estate title.
Hawaii Family Courts
Hawaii Family Courts are typically divisions of District Courts and Circuit Courts. The majority of Family Court cases are typically heard in Circuit Courts. However, a District Family Court division maybe signed a case by a Circuit Family Court judge.
These courts have jurisdiction to handle divorce, civil commitment paternity, child support, guardianship of adults and children, and other domestic violence related cases.
Family Courts have limited jurisdiction over most juvenile matters including child neglect, juvenile delinquency, guardianship of a child, child custody, juvenile curfew violations, termination of parental rights, truancy, and judicial consent to enlistment, employment, and marriage.
These courts have jurisdiction to handle some criminal cases, including non-felony cases against a spouse, failure to provide child support, abandonment, desertion, offenses committed against a child, and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders violations. They share jurisdiction with District Courts and Circuit Courts over some criminal offenses.
Hawaii Land Courts
Hawaii Land Courts have jurisdiction over cases related to some rights associated with land, and registration of title of land. They also handle cases that the Land Court Registration statute has authorized.
The Land Court is located at the First Circuit Court in Honolulu County, and handles cases for the whole state.
Hawaii Tax Appeal Court
This court is located at the First Circuit Court in Honolulu County and hears appeals of decisions of real property taxation as well as problems related to real property taxes. The court handles cases for the whole state.
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