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How to Find Out When Inmates Will Appear in Court

It can be difficult to try to follow a court case when the defendent is already an inmate. It is not always easy to know when he or she will next appear in court. This information is getting easier to find, however, as many jurisdictions post much of their inmate information, including upcoming criminal court dates, online. Of course, not all jurisdictions have online databases.

Find Inmate Court Appearance Dates Online

Much public information about inmates is now freely available online on department of corrections, court, or county websites. You can find links to many state resources for finding prisoner information on The Inmate Locator website. The federal Bureau of Prisons website provides a database of federal inmate information.

Each site is set up differently, but in general you will have a choice of how to search:

  • By name: For common names, this can turn up a lot of results. If the site accepts multiple inputs, additional information like a birth date can be helpful.
  • Case number or inmate number: Searching by case or inmate number is your best option if you happen to know it. It will lead right to all public information about the specific case.
  • Other information: Some sites will also allow you to search by things such as Social Security number, gender, and age range. Some databases allow you to enter multiple pieces of information to narrow your results, while others only accept one.

The record for each inmate displays all available public information, including the next scheduled court date, often along with the courthouse location and courtroom number. Not all websites provide the same level of information, and some jurisdictions do not yet have inmate information available online.

Finding Court Appearance Information Offline

If the inmate is housed in a correctional facility that does not provide a searchable online database, or the records you found did not include a next court date, you will have to resort to "old-school" methods such as these:

  • Call or visit the jail or prison where the person is being held. Officials there should know when inmates' next court appearances are scheduled because they must make arrangements to transport them to court.
  • Call or visit the courthouse(s) nearest to the correctional facility. In most cases, you will want to talk with the clerk of the court's office.
  • Talk with the prosecutor, the person's defense attorney or the public defender's office. They can either give you the information or tell you whom to contact.

It can be frustrating to follow the case of someone who is in prison, especially if you do not know what is happening with the case. However, you have many options for finding information about inmates, including when they will appear in court.