What Are The Differences Between Federal And State Crimes?
Federal crimes are illegal acts against the United States federal legislation and are prosecuted under criminal law. Federal offenses include crimes not perpetrated within the United States, and other unlawful acts the state law enforcement agency cannot handle due to lack of appropriate resources and specially trained personnel. If an accused person is convicted of a federal crime, such an individual may spend time in a federal prison rather than state prison. Examples of violations classified as federal crimes are;
- Aircraft hijacking
- Animal cruelty
- Tax evasion
- Bank robbery
- Child pornography
- Credit card fraud
- Illegal wiretapping
- Electoral fraud
- Drug trafficking
State crimes are violations against the state’s laws, and such criminal activities are prosecuted in the relevant county court of the state in which the crime was committed. Local police officers, county sheriffs, or state agents are empowered to investigate a state crime. Also, state violations are usually more frequent than federal crimes and are prosecuted by state or district attorneys. Convicts of state crimes get incarcerated in state prisons or local jail facilities. State offenses include;
- DUI-DWI vehicular crimes
- Domestic violence
- Aggravated assault and homicide
In unique situations, offenders can be charged for federal and state criminal law. In such cases, the federal and state courts share jurisdiction, and both laws overlap through the double jeopardy clause arising from the Fifth Amendment, which states that a person cannot be tried for the same offense twice. Since federal and state governments are separate sovereigns, it is possible to be acquitted of a criminal offense and be convicted for another crime.
How Does the Missouri Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?
For federal crime cases, judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate. Such appointments are for life. According to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, decisions on federal matters, and a defendant will need to consult an experienced attorney. Justice process for federal crimes include:
The Pretrial Stage: The pretrial stage for criminal cases in the United States involves investigation, grand juries, and arrests. Once a crime is brought to the federal authorities’ notice, an investigation begins to take place to ascertain whether the crime was committed or not. However, the type of offense will determine which of the federal agencies will be involved in the investigation. In cases where the jury is involved, the grand jury will also take part in the investigation. If the crime was found to be perpetrated, an arrest will occur.
Upon arrest, the arrestee will be informed to remain silent and get an attorney who would make a plea bargain if the offender enters a guilty plea with the prosecutor. If the court rejects this arrangement, the plea bargain is withdrawn, and the case will proceed to trial.
Trial: The furtherance of a trial is based on the defense and the government’s evidence. Most significantly, if the government can prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Victims and witnesses will also be called to testify to the crime. After hearing both the plaintiff and the defendant, and the jury or judge finds the accused person guilty, a sentence will be imposed. The verdict could be probation, fines, community service, imprisonment, or correctional programs.
Post-Trial: Posterior to judgment, a defendant may appeal the sentence at the circuit court of appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. A review may or may not be done, and that point, there are few options to obtain relief. Clemency by the president is another avenue to get relief, but the probability of having a reduced sentence or pardon is very low as the president rarely uses this power.
In Missouri, the judiciary consists of the trial courts, an intermediate appellate court, and the Supreme Court. The trial courts hold the jurisdiction for criminal cases in Missouri, while the intermediate appellate court deals with appeals from the circuit courts. The supreme court reviews appeals of important cases. The prosecuting attorney in each county handles Missouri’s trial process, and accused persons are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution process include;
Arrest and Complaint: If a charge has been filed formally, the prosecuting attorney will obtain an arrest warrant from a judge. The arrest warrant will grant law enforcement officers the authority to apprehend the suspect.
Preliminary Hearing: At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence to prove that the accused person is guilty of the crime. Cross-examination will then take place. If a probable cause is established, the judge will order that the case proceeds to trial. The case can also be dismissed if probable cause is not demonstrated after going through all evidence or if a witness fails to appear.
Arraignment: Charges are presented to the defendant formally to enter a plea. The suspect can choose to plead guilty or not guilty. After this, the court will set a trial date.
The Trial: The jury will be present during the trial, and after all evidence has been heard, the court will read the jury’s instruction. However, the juror must come to a unanimous decision about the case. If the alleged offender is not found guilty of the crime, the state holds no authority to retry the suspect. If proven guilty, the judge will sentence the criminal upon the jury’s recommendation. Notwithstanding, there are instances where the judge does not require instruction from the jury to preside over a case.
Presentence Investigation: The State Board of Probation may decide if an accused person is eligible for probation and may suggest this to the judge.
Sentencing: Upon recommendation from the jury, the judge may decide to reduce the offender’s sentence but may not increase it. The judge may order the defendant to make restitution by paying a fine or serve a jail term.
Appeals Process: After sentencing, the perpetrator may appeal the court’s decision at the intermediate appellate court or Supreme Court.
How Many Federal Courts Are There In Missouri
The state of Missouri has two federal courts:
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri
- The Eastern District of Missouri has three locations. These include St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, and Hannibal.
Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse
111 South 10th Street
St. Louis, MO 63102
After Hours: (314)810–2251
Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse
555 Independence Street
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
After Hours: (314)810–2251
Hannibal Federal Building
Hannibal, MO 63401
After Hours: (314)810–2251
- The Western District of Missouri is situated in three cities. These are in Kansas City, Jefferson City, and Springfield.
Kansas City - Western Division
Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse
400 E. 9th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
District Court: (816) 512–5000
Bankruptcy Court: (816) 512–1800
Jefferson City - Central Division
Christopher S. Bond Court House
80 Lafayette Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Springfield - Southern Division
United States Courthouse
222 N. John Q. Hammons Parkway
Springfield, MO 65806
Are Federal Cases Public Records?
Federal cases are public records following the Freedom of Information Act. Nevertheless, the act is restricted to classified or confidential federal records containing information such as:
- National security information or trade secrets of the United States.
- Geological and geophysical information.
- Information with bank supervision.
- Law enforcement records.
- Personnel and medical files.
- Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda.
- Internal personnel rules and practices.
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
Federal records are available online for public access through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), which keeps over 500 million documents available on PACER. PACER is updated daily, and there is also a PACER Case Locator option for persons who are unsure of the relevant federal court in Missouri in which a case was filed. Older records dated before 1999 are kept in paper format and obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Registration is free on PACER, but a fee of 10 cents is charged per page.
How To Find Federal Court Records In Missouri?
Interested parties can obtain federal court records online through the PACER database at a small fee, depending on the number of pages viewed. Federal court documents can also be acquired from the National Archives and Records Administration in Missouri by contacting the clerk’s office. However, the first step is to visit the relevant court clerk’s office to get the case number and storage location. A case order form must be completed, which is available at the appropriate District Court of Missouri. The application can be submitted through fax or mail or online, and charges may apply.
Another method to access federal court records in Missouri is to send a written request, and a $64 fee is required for this process. It will take two weeks for the request to be attended to. The clerk’s office can be contacted at:
Clerk’s Office of the Eastern District Court
One Post Office Square
Third Floor, 815 Olive Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63101
Clerk’s Office of the Western District Court
1300 Oak Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64106–2970
Phone: (816) 889–3600
Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Missouri?
Federal cases can be dismissed, but this is based on substantial grounds for dismissal such as;
- An illegal stop or search.
- Improper criminal complaint.
- Lack of probable cause to arrest.
- Lack of evidence to convict the defendant.
- Absence of witness to prove that the defendant is guilty.
- Loss of evidence to verify that the alleged violator committed the crime.
A case may also be dismissed in Missouri by winning the case in a court of appeal, having lost earlier in a district court. In rare instances, the court may issue a dismissal based on the facts of the case or if the defendant has a clean record. Since the state and federal courts are two different sovereigns, a federal case can be dismissed if the federal court.
How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record
The impact of a criminal record can be devastating to the offender’s chances of holding a public office, loans, gaining employment, school admission, and obtaining a driver’s license. It is possible to expunge or seal a criminal record to avoid such collateral damage. There is the absence of federal statute guiding the policy of record expungement, and as such, each U.S. state has unique laws imposed over such cases. However, each state has its expungement law.
In 2016, a vital criminal record expungement rule was signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon in Missouri. This law expanded the records of crimes eligible for expungement, and such offenses include most misdemeanor and felony. Convicted criminals had to wait for 20 years before a request for an expungement could be made, but due to the new law, defendants only have to wait for seven years. Expungement or sealing of criminal records in Missouri requires an attorney’s expertise, and the offender must meet the criteria for the expungement of records. Under section 556.061 of the Senate bill 588, some crimes that cannot be expunged in Missouri are:
- Class A felony
- A felony involving domestic assault and kidnapping
- Felony offense where death is an element of the crime
- Sex-related offenses
- Road or boating offense, such as operating with high alcohol content.
An incarcerated person is eligible for expungement in Missouri if the arrest was based on false information and meets the following criteria;
- There is no probable cause to believe that the person is guilty of the offense
- The person has no prior or subsequent felony or misdemeanor convictions
- The individual did not receive a suspended imposition of sentence for the offense
- The person has no pending civil actions relating to the records sought to be expunged.
Eligible persons can file a petition for expungement in the relevant district court by completing the CR 145 Petition for Expungement of Arrest Records. However, a $250 surcharge will be assessed by the court. The court sets a hearing on the case within 30 days after the petition was filed, and approval or rejection may ensue following the expungement criteria. If approved, such records will still be accessible to law enforcement agencies when the offender is charged with a subsequent crime.