Federal records can contain any information, documents, or files that gets in the hands of the federal government. It is federal law and routine to keep these files on record for a scheduled amount of time before disposing them -- doing so before schedule could be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
If you’ve ever been involved in a federal case, whether it be a civil lawsuit, a criminal case, or filing for bankruptcy, this information can be stored in federal records. This can be displayed in a background check or even in your public record.
There could be many reasons why you would want to search for federal records. Maybe you want to see if there are any federal cases that you’re involved in or maybe you want to dig up some of your family history. Since federal records could contain criminal cases at the federal level, you might want to dig up some information about your friends or social media encounters.
Whatever your reasoning, federal records are meant to be public -- with a few exceptions -- and allow for transparency at the federal level. A lot of this can be credited to the Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act was made effective on July 5, 1967. It was designed to ensure the federal government properly filed, kept, released, and eventually disposed of any and all documents they control. For those that wonder why we are able to view so many documents or emails from the Supreme Court, Congress, and White House, a lot of it is a result of the Freedom of Information Act.
Although the Freedom of Information Act allows our government to run with transparency, it also allows the public to operate with transparency among itself. This means that anyone involved in a federal case of any sort can have that information available for everyone to see.
Types of Federal Records
Federal records can contain a wide range of information, not only limited to government officials. The federal courts are constantly busy dealing with things happening around the country, so there are plenty of documents to be filed.
Depending on the type of search someone is conducting, a lot of this information about you can be easily accessed by anyone. It’s always a good idea to know what information is out there and maybe even conduct a search on yourself to see if you’re linked to anything. It could help you prepare for any random questions you might get from people you meet.
If you or someone you know has ever filed for bankruptcy, whether it be Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, Chapter 12, or Chapter 15, those documents are filed at the federal level. This is because all bankruptcy cases are handled by the federal courts. The bankruptcy laws regulated by the government are designed to help give people a second chance when life gets away from them.
Your bankruptcy records could be out in the open for everyone to see, especially when included in your public record. This can contain a large amount of information, including the case number, chapter, discharge date, filing type, court name and location, judge name, comments, debtor information, attorney information, and trustee information.
Federal Civil Cases
Civil lawsuits and cases can either be heard by the federal or state court systems. Those that are heard at the federal level will be included in public federal records. Although federal cases can differ in origin, they are viewed as major cases that question federal law and the constitution.
Those involved in cases handled by the state can petition to have the trial moved to the federal level, but it’s unlikely to get picked up since the federal court system is very selective in which cases they accept.
Federal Criminal Cases
Although many of the criminal cases that happen on a daily basis are tried at the state level, the federal courts will have jurisdiction on some situations and this information can be found in federal records online. It all boils down to what laws are being broken. If they are state laws, then the state courts will take control of it.
Federal criminal cases can involve robbing a bank, drug trafficking, using the U.S. postal service to swindle consumers, and any crimes committed on federal property. Not all federal records regarding criminal cases will be available due to the few exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, but you could at least find basic information about what happened.
Are Federal Records Accessible to the Public?
Many federal records can be found online by going to the specific agencies’ database and requesting the information you seek. This can take a while if you don’t know where to look or at least where to start. Luckily, there’s an easier way to get access to someone’s federal records and they can be found in their public record.
Like the name indicates, public records are filled with information intended for public use -- although not intended for discriminating against each other. People will be able to view if you’ve been involved in any civil lawsuits at the federal level, committed any federal crimes, and even filed for bankruptcy.
How to Find Federal Records
If you’re wondering how to start your search, you’re closer than you think! We have all the tools and resources you need to get started right here on our website. You’ll be able to pull up anyone’s public record, including their federal records.
All you need to do is enter the person’s first and last name -- you could even put your own in -- and hit the ‘Search’ button. You can enter the last known location of the person to enhance your search, but this information won’t be mandatory.
There’s a lot to uncover about people we thought we knew very well. You’d be surprised at what a public record search can reveal, so make sure you keep an open mind before opening their report.