What Are The Differences Between Federal And Indiana State Crimes?
Federal crimes and state crimes are significantly different in the United States. Federal offenses are illegal acts against the United States’ criminal laws, and these crimes are usually indicted by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The penalties for federal lawsuits are much more stern compared to state crimes. Some examples of federal crimes are;
- Aggravated assault
- Child pornography
- Bond default
- Identity theft
- Tax evasion
- Sale of citizenship papers
- Use of weapons of mass destruction
- Immigration violations
- Money laundering
- Murder committed on federal land
- Public corruptions
- Breaking and entering carrier facilities
On the other hand, state crimes are activities that violate the state’s criminal law or public international law. As federal agencies investigate federal crimes, state agencies such as local police officers and county sheriffs have jurisdiction over state crimes. City attorneys or state district prosecutors carry out prosecution of state crimes. Sentences for state crimes are severe depending on the crime, but less harsh than federal crimes. A few instances of state crimes in Indiana include:
- Domestic violence
- Armed robbery
- Child abuse
- Sexual assault
- Disorderly conduct
However, it is possible to face charges for a crime in both state and federal courts. Multiple law enforcement agencies can investigate a particular criminal case at both state and federal levels simultaneously, and the prosecution process will mean the offender is charged at a federal and state court. Certain crimes that will make a criminal face state and federal charges are child pornography, drug trafficking, weapon charges, and fraud cases.
How Does the Indiana Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?
Federal cases are taken up by United States attorneys, and federal judges, following the Crimes and Criminal Procedure. Federal magistrate judges are involved in the legal process to hear initial matters such as pre-trial motions. Still, the magistrate judges do not give the final decision on court actions. Grand juries are required to charge defendants in federal cases unless the defendant relinquishes the grand jury arraignment. The steps for criminal prosecution in the Federal Court system are:
- Initial Hearing/Arraignment
- Plea bargaining
- Preliminary hearing
- Pre-trial motions
- Post-trial motions
- Sentencing and appeal.
A criminal case in Indiana starts with the investigation of a crime or complaint by the police authority. The police prepare an arrest report if the alleged individual has been apprehended, or a case reports if the accused was not arrested at the hour the complaint was made. The report is handed over to the prosecuting attorney or state prosecutors who are often called district attorneys, city attorneys, or state attorneys, to survey the case and conclude whether to lodge criminal charges. The case may or may not require the presence of a jury. The state of Indiana has laws that make specific actions unlawful, and every jurisdiction has penalties set in place for criminals that violate Indiana criminal codes. On rare occasions, the state court’s punishment may be more severe than that of the federal court, but an individual can be charged under the two systems.
How Many Federal Courts Are There In Indiana
There are two federal courts in the state of Indiana, namely the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana is a federal district court and has four diverse locations in Fort Wayne, Hammond, Lafayette, and South Bend.
1300 S. Harrison St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Court clerk’s phone number:
5400 Federal Plaza
Hammond, IN 46320
Charles A. Halleck Federal Building
230 North Fourth St., Room 105
Lafayette, IN 47901–1322
102 Federal Building
204 S Main St
South Bend, IN 46601
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, a federal district court in Indiana, has four locations in Indiana, including Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Evansville, and New Albany.
Birch Bayh Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
46 East Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
921 Ohio Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807
Winfield K. Denton Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
101 Northwest Martin Luther King Boulevard
Evansville, IN 47708
Lee H. Hamilton Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
121 West Spring Street
New Albany, IN 47150
Are Federal Cases Public Records?
According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974, files and documents generated from federal cases are available for public access. However, records secured from disclosure by the nine exemptions to the FOIA are not accessible for public review.
Records identified with legal actions are commonly placed in a case file. A case file incorporates details of court procedures. Still, it may exclude materials revealed through discovery, which are not documented with the court and preliminary exhibits that were not admitted as proof.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Find Federal Court Records Online
To obtain federal court records online, interested persons may use Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), which is an electronic filing system that preserves federal court documents in the United States. PACER gives access to Appellate Court opinions, transcripts filed for certain cases, dockets listing the case events by date, images of documents, etc.
Even though PACER allows the public to retrieve federal court records, each court still has its specific database. It is also possible to be denied access to a record for several reasons, such as the invasion of privacy due to the case file’s sensitive nature, availability of the record, and inability to state the exact record being sought in the request.
Requesters can either search by the specific court where the case was handled or by national index to find a federal case in Indiana using PACER. Either way, interested individuals will be required to register or log in first. Access to case information on PACER costs $0.10 to download a page, and the required fee excludes reports that are not case-specific, name searches, and transcripts of federal court proceedings.
How To Find Federal Court Records In Indiana?
Interested persons can inspect and make copies of judicial records and documents filed in a federal court through the Office of the Public Access Counselor, which is located at:
W470, Indiana Government Center South
402 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Requesters can as well order/request copies of civil cases, the court of appeals, bankruptcy, and criminal case files via mail or on the phone from the Clerk of the District Court maintaining the records. When ordering, the description must be accurate so the record keeper can provide the document in question. Some district courts have specific request forms to be filled before access is given or may ask the applicant to present a written request. If unsure of which district court to contact, the local library or State Information Center may help.
Also, interested parties can download and complete the appropriate form to order federal court records by mail, fax, or email. The forms are as follows:
- Bankruptcy Form
- Civil Cases Form
- Court of Appeals Form
- Criminal Cases Form
Cases filed before 1999 are in paper format and are not maintained electronically. Access court documents generated before 1999 can be granted by visiting the court where the case was filed or the Federal Records Centers (FRCs).
Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Indiana?
Cases of dismissal of federal crimes are relatively rare in Indiana. However, closed federal lawsuits, authorized by the court or persecutor, do not proceed to a trial or plea. Federal crimes can be dismissed under the following conditions;
- Lack of Evidence: To convict a defendant, the prosecutor must showcase enough evidence that proves the alleged offender committed the crime. Furthermore, prosecutors must meet a burden of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ before during the trial process. If the prosecutor doesn’t present credible evidence to the court to show the accused person is guilty, then the trial proceeding is unnecessary. The defendant’s lawyer can file a motion to dismiss the charges.
- Violation of Rights (Illegal Search): When the police stop to search a person, house, or vehicle without a warrant, that search is illegal. However, there are certain situations where the police do not require a search warrant. Examples are searching for a deadly weapon after an arrest due to a reasonable belief that the individual is a perp, raiding a house to search after hearing gunshots or ransacking a car because the driver was driving while impaired.
When a search is conducted for none of the legal reasons and without a warrant or unique situation, any proof gotten from the search is inadmissible and cannot be used against the defendant because it violated human rights. If the court finds a search illegal, then the defendant’s attorney can request the case’s dismissal.
- Unavailable Witness: If an observer in a criminal case is inaccessible to testify or the arraignment loses significant physical proof, the prosecutor may have no real option except to dismiss the case because there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove the defendant was guilty. Sometimes, physical testimony is critical to such an extent that the prosecutor can’t continue the case without it. If a witness goes missing, dies, vanishes, or is unable to testify on Fifth Amendment grounds due to one reason or the other, the prosecutor will have no choice but to dismiss it.
- Successful Appeal: Most times, alleged offenders who may not want to undergo a trial or enter a plea may appeal to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the chances of having a successful appeal are slim. An accused person that was convicted and wins the case on appeal can get an order from the appellate court for the trial court to dismiss the previously lost case or enter a judgment of acquittal.
How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?
There is no valid expungement statute in the United States, and the district courts in charge of federal cases may not permit the expungement of federal cases, except in certain instances. Clerical error or defects, evidence of innocence, or improper conduct of the government discovered during a court proceeding can lead to the removal of federal criminal records. Furthermore, if the government does not object to removing case files of criminal convicts, the court may go ahead. The purpose of expungement is to remove the details of a criminal conviction from a person’s criminal history record. The individual can deny ever being tried for a criminal case. The Attorney General may possess a non-public index for expunged records within the United States.
When there is a need to protect an individual’s fundamental legal rights, the federal court may grant the removal of the criminal record. Also, if a convict can prove that the criminal records’ validity is causing economic hardship, the court can consider expunging the files from the criminal case. The 115th Congress passed a bill in 2018 to permit the expungement of nonviolent criminal offenses, but unfortunately, the bill was not passed into law.
Individuals must file a petition at the court where the applicant was convicted to clear a federal criminal record. The query will be passed to the United States Attorney in charge of the district court, which may submit recommendations to the court. In response to the petition, the government and the petitioner will present evidence before the court. The interest of the defendant will be assessed in line with the evidence and public safety. The court may decide to deny the motion for expungement, and in such cases, the petitioner may not file related requests in the next two years.