Washington state court system

Understanding how the system of Washington state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.

Washington Courts Overview

To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Washington by simply going to courts by county.

The trial court system of Washington State consists of Toll Courts, Traffic Violations Bureaus, Municipal Courts, District Courts, and Superior Courts.

Superior Courts

Washington Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over types of cases, but usually hear cases which are not within the jurisdiction limit of any other court.

They have original jurisdiction over misdemeanors that Municipal Court or District Court cannot handle, felony criminal cases, annulment, divorce, probate matters, prevention or abatement of a nuisance, insolvency proceedings, actions for detainer and forcible entry, and all other types of cases that are not exclusively assigned to any other court.

Washington Superior Courts also have original jurisdiction to handle civil cases involving a dispute over a possession or the title of real estate, or legality issues of any tax, assessment, toll, impost, or municipal fine, and all other cases that involve damages, debts or property valued in the amount beyond the jurisdiction limits of the District Courts. They also hear mandamus, habeas corpus, and quo warranto as well as naturalization cases.

Superior Courts may have separate Family Court department for handling parenting plans, custodial interference, child support, child visitation, child custody, domestic relations cases, and distribution of marital property. Family Court departments may also handle dissolution or divorce cases, and juvenile cases that involve other family matters. Some Family and Juvenile Court or Family Court departments regularly hear juvenile or family law cases.

A Superior Court may have a Teen Court or Youth Court division program mainly for juvenile offenders. Eligible cases include truancy, civil and traffic infractions, gross misdemeanors, and misdemeanors.

District Courts

Washington District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of traffic, criminal, or civil cases. Criminal cases heard by these courts include traffic infractions, preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases, gross misdemeanor criminal cases, and misdemeanor criminal cases.

The civil cases District Courts have jurisdiction over include cases with claims for less than $75,000, excluding fees, costs and interest. Civil cases that these courts hear include damages to personal property, damages to a person, fraud cases involving personal property, actions for a penalty, and contract cases seeking the recovery of money among other types of civil cases.

Each District Court has a Small Claims department for handling civil cases considered to be small claims. Small claims are those cases that involve claims for less than $5,000 in dispute.

Municipal Courts

Washington Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances, and forfeitures or recovery of license penalties under those ordinances. Some Washington Municipal Courts may set bails, hold preliminary hearings, and even take recognizance on warrants that another Municipal or District Court has issued.

A Municipal Court may have a Student Courts, Teen Court or Youth Court division program for juveniles aged between six and seventeen, where by other youth are serving as court personnel, lawyers, judges, and jurors in traffic infraction cases.

Traffic Violations Bureaus

These are city departments that have been authorized by Municipal or District Courts to process the traffic cases of the Court. Traffic Violations Bureaus accept bail, payments, and requests for contested hearings, mitigation hearings, and deferrals. Deferrals and hearings are heard only in the authorized Municipal or District Court.

Toll Courts

Toll Courts hear penalties connected with unpaid toll fees that have been contested in person or in writing. In person hearings can be requested in person or by phone. Decisions made by mail cannot actually be appealed.

The Official Website of Washington County

Seattle Seattle.gov Home Official city government site. Citizen, business, and visitor information sections, plus city government information.
Spokane City of Spokane, Washington
Tacoma City of Tacoma The City of Tacoma – Tacoma Washington
Vancouver City of Vancouver City of Vancouver Washington
Bellevue City of Bellevue
Kent City of Kent
Everett Everett, WA – Official Website
Renton City of Renton
Federal Way Welcome to City of Federal Way | City of Federal Way
Yakima City of Yakima | The Heart of Central Washington
Spokane Valley Welcome – Spokane Valley, WA Official website of the City of Spokane Valley. Access to permits, street and transportation projects, city council and city news.
Kirkland Kirkland Washington Official City Website – Welcome!
Bellingham COB Home
Kennewick Kennewick, WA | Official Website
Auburn City of Auburn
King County King County, Washington – King County Official home page for King County Government, Seattle, Wash. Features include innovative government initiatives, information on county services and news.
Pierce County Pierce County, WA – Official Website
Snohomish County Snohomish County, WA – Official Website
Spokane County Spokane County, WA | Official Website
Clark County Clark County Washington
Thurston County Redirect Page Only
Yakima County Yakima County, WA | Official Website
Whatcom County Whatcom County, WA – Official Website
Benton County Benton County WA – Official Website
Skagit County Skagit County Government
Cowlitz County Cowlitz County, WA – Official Website
Franklin County Franklin County, Washington
Grays Harbor County Welcome to Grays Harbor County Welcome to Grays Harbor County, on Washington’s beautiful Pacific Coast. Grays Harbor is the gateway to Washington’s scenic coastal wonderlands, a key producer and exporter of wood and ocean products, and a vibrant and dynamic community. Come visit this gem nestled at the foot of the emerald forests of Washington State.
Chelan County County of Chelan, Washington
Clallam County Clallam County
Mason County Mason County WA Government Home Mason County, Washington – Official Government information and services.
Walla Walla County Welcome to Walla Walla County Welcome to Walla Walla County
Whitman County Welcome to Whitman County
Stevens County Stevens County Washington Web Site
Okanogan County
Kittitas County Kittitas County WA | From the Cascades… to the Columbia Welcome to the Kittitas County web site. Learn more about the services provided to Kittitas County employees and the general public.
Douglas County Douglas County, Washington
Jefferson County Departments A-E | Jefferson County, WA Check out the responsibilities and services of the county's various departments from Animal Services to Environmental Health/Water Quality.
Asotin County Asotin County
Pacific County Pacific County Government Website The Official Pacific County Washington Government Web site. Includes links to County Departments, Information, Contacts, History, etc.
Klickitat County Klickitat County, WA | Official Website
Adams County Welcome to Adams County
San Juan County San Juan County, WA | Official Website
Pend Oreille County Pend Oreille County – A Great Place to Live, Work, and Play
Skamania County Skamania County
Lincoln County Lincoln County, WA
Ferry County Ferry County Government
Columbia County Columbia County, WA – Official Website
Wahkiakum County Wahkiakum County, WA | Official Website
Garfield County Garfield County Washington