Federal Court Records
Federal court records contain information about some of the more serious crimes committed in the United States. The Federal court system is limited in what cases they can dictate, with most crimes being heard by the state and county court systems.
Due to the Freedom of Information Act, all federal court records must be filed and maintained by the court ruling over the case. These records are maintained in a court database, which can be requested and accessed by the public. If you’ve ever wondered whether your case that went to federal court can be viewed by anyone, the answer is yes -- for the most part.
This can be concerning to many people who try very hard to keep their federal court records hidden from their family and friends. Some people are ashamed of their past mistakes and many are actively pursuing a second chance. Knowing that these records can be brought up at anytime can create anxiety and stress, but there are certain laws and regulations that protect your information in certain situations.
What Are Federal Court Records?
Federal court records shouldn’t be confused with state and county court records, which will contain information on less-serious crimes committed in that specific area. The federal court system is comprised of 94 district courts, 13 circuit courts, and one Supreme Court that rule over the federal law.
The district courts, which are found in all 50 states, are known as the “original jurisdiction” or the trial court -- this is where most cases start. The circuit courts are an intermediate appellate court, which only handles cases where the defendant argues their case was mishandled by the previous judge. The Supreme Court only handles the most extreme cases that might go against the Constitution.
One of the big differences between federal courts and state courts are the types of cases heard by the courts. Here’s a list of the types of cases handled by the federal courts:
- Cases that question the constitutionality of any law
- Cases regarding any laws or treaties signed by the United States
- Bankruptcy cases
- Cases that involve public ministers or ambassadors
- A dispute to multiple states in the US
- Admiralty laws
- Habeas Corpus issues
Outside of that, the state courts handle most criminal cases, lawsuits, judgments, probates, etc. If your case is being brought in front of a federal judge, you’re involved in a serious case that is regarded at the federal level.
The federal court system is solely responsible for any and all bankruptcy cases in the United States. If you’ve ever filed for bankruptcy, then you’ve been involved with a federal district court that ultimately ruled over the bankruptcy.
As mentioned earlier, these courts are required to maintain any files and documents that pertain to your case. Anyone who has your court case number can find these federal court records in their database. They can also go to the clerk’s office to physically request the files. You don’t need any special clearance to do so.
Bankruptcy cases found in federal court records can show the case number, chapter, close date, discharge date, file type, filing jurisdiction, court name, judge name, status history, meeting date, meeting address, debtor information, attorney information, and trustee information. That’s a lot of information out in the open, in addition to the asset records, property history, and more information is available out there.
Federal Civil Cases
Almost all civil cases and disputes are handled by the State courts, but that doesn’t mean the federal court system doesn’t rule over any civil cases. Still, if the case involves a federal law or implements a federal question, it can be heard by the federal court system. These federal court records are also maintained and released to those seeking information on the case.
There is a way for a civil case originally heard by the State courts to make its way to the federal courts, but the petition to do so must be approved before that happens. There can also be a diversity jurisdiction in some civil cases that involve $75,000 or more at stake, which the federal courts can rule over.
Federal Criminal Cases
Much like civil cases, the federal court system is limited in jurisdiction. Federal court records regarding criminal cases will normally involve mail fraud, aircraft hijacking, kidnapping, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, identity theft, tax evasion, counterfeiting, electoral fraud, assassination of the President, and much more.
As you can see, these crimes deal with violations to federal laws -- opposed to laws governed by the states, which are heard in state courts. Federal court records will contain information on criminal cases, though some of the most serious cases might be sealed.
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal law that makes it mandatory for all government agencies and courts to properly document, file, and maintain federal court records so they can be released to the public upon request. In some cases, only partial information might be given due to several exceptions.
The Freedom of Information Act was published in July 1967 and has had several revisions since, but the main goal of the law remains -- to keep a level of transparency across the United States.
How to Find Federal Court Records
Federal Court records can be found by searching through the federal court databases around the web, but this might take a while if you’re looking for a specific case or person. Luckily, we have the tools and resources to bring information across all of these databases into one report. Better yet, it’ll take you no time at all to get started!
First, you’ll need to input the person’s name into the search engine located below. If you don’t know their entire last name, you can start with the first initial and go from there. You can even select their last known location if you know it, but this also won’t be required.
By hitting ‘Search,’ you will be given a list of possible matches to the name you entered. Make sure you open the right person’s report, since many people will share the same name.
It’s that easy, so what are you waiting for? Start your search for federal court records today!