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What Are the Differences Between Federal and State Crimes?

The United States criminal law defines offenses that are within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CIA, IRS, and DHS investigate federal crimes in their field. Persons accused of committing federal crimes are usually tried at a federal court following the U.S federal judicial system. U.S federal crimes include:

  • Corruption
  • Treason
  • Terrorism
  • Drug trafficking
  • Homicide
  • Crimes that occurred on federal properties
  • Credit card frauds
  • Crimes that occurred across multiple state boundaries
  • War crimes

The Delaware Crimes and Criminal Procedures code guide the prosecution process of Delaware state crimes. The state’s criminal court adjudicates criminal cases violating Delaware criminal laws after investigations from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security or the local law enforcement agencies. Typical state crimes in Delaware include:

  • Reckless endangerment of someone’s life
  • Vehicular assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Arson
  • Criminal trespass on properties
  • Burglary
  • Identity theft
  • Health-care fraud
  • Domestic violence

Sometimes, some offenses may violate both federal and state criminal laws. In such cases, the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine allows the investigation and prosecution of such crimes by the federal and state law enforcement agencies.

How Does Delaware State Court System Differ from the Federal Court System?

The Delaware state court system consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Chancery, the Superior Court, the Family Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Justice of the Peace Court. The federal court system comprises the trial courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

The U.S federal courts have limited jurisdiction on only cases authorized by the federal constitution. Delaware state courts hear both civil and criminal cases within the state’s jurisdiction. The Justice of Peace Court and the Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over civil cases and misdemeanor criminal cases while the Family Court hears all family and juvenile related cases. All family court civil appeals go to the Supreme Court while the Superior Court hears criminal case appeals.

The Delaware Superior Court handles civil and criminal cases. The court has exclusive jurisdiction over felonies and drug-related crimes. It also hears appeals from the lower courts. The Supreme Court is the highest in Delaware, and it hears appeals from the Superior Court.

The U.S president selects federal court judges, and the U.S Senate confirms their appointment. Federal court judges, except the magistrate court, may hold lifelong appointments. However, the removal of federal court judges may happen through impeachment. Delaware state court judges are elected for some years.

How Many Federal Courts are There Delaware?

Delaware State has two federal courts in its jurisdiction:

  • The United States District Court for the District of Delaware
  • The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware

The United States District Court for the District of Delaware handles federal court cases in the state’s jurisdiction. The court has its office located at:

United States District Court
844 North King St Unit 18
Wilmington, Delaware

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware hears bankruptcy cases in the state. The court has its location at:

824 Market Street N
3rd Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Federal cases are public records, as provided in the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA allows the general public to copy and inspect information maintained and generated by federal agencies. The custodian of the records of federal cases provides methods that interested persons may get it with. Typically, interested persons may obtain records of federal cases at the court he case was heard or online. Information that persons may obtain include documents and transcripts used during the court proceedings, case dockets, and details of the parties involved. However, not all federal court records are accessible to the public. Some records are unavailable for copying or inspecting due to the private or sensitive information they contain. A Federal court may also seal/expunge federal cases on its initiative.

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 Courts Records Online

Persons who wish to get Delaware federal court records can use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) site. PACER gives the public access to court records maintained at the federal level. Upon the creation of a PACER account, interested persons may access desired federal court records online. To search for Delaware federal court records, interested users may pick the Delaware federal court from the listing of federal courts. After users have identified the federal case records they want, they may pay the fees charged to obtain copies of the records. A page cost $0.50. To obtain documents, users have to pay $3.00 for each copy. Users may view the fee schedule for more information on charges of copying records and fee waivers.

How to Find Federal Court Records in Delaware?

Persons looking to get federal court records in Delaware may get them at the court where the case proceedings occurred. Federal court records can be obtained from the custodian upon the satisfaction of all requirements. Typically, individuals may obtain records at the custodian’s office or via mail.

To obtain records of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, interested individuals may complete the Copy Order Form and submit it in-person or via mail to the court’s office clerk. Requestors may pay a copying fee of $0.50 per page and $11.00 per document, following the fee schedule. Requestors may submit their order form to:

Office of the Clerk
United States District Court
844 North King St Unit 18
Wilmington, DE 19801–3570
(302) 573–6170

In-person requests are only available on weekdays from the hours of 8:30 a.m.—4:00 p.m.

Requestors may get archived records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Requests can be placed directly at the NARA records center or through the clerk’s office. Retrieval of records cost $64 for the first box per case and $39 per subsequent boxes. Interested persons may find more information on the NARA FAQ webpage.

To get records of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, interested individuals may request in-person or via U.S mail to the clerk’s office address:

824 North Market Street
3rd Floor
Wilmington, Delaware 19801
(302) 252–2900

In-person requests are available on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Requestors may pay fees for copies of records, following the fee schedule. To obtain Delaware bankruptcy federal court records maintained by NARA, requestors may complete the order form and submit it online.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed in Delaware?

The dismissal of federal crimes in Delaware occurs when there isn’t enough evidence against a defendant, and the criminal charges are dropped. Also, when there is a violation of the Speedy Trial Act, the dismissal of federal crimes may happen. Violation of the speedy trial act occurs when there is a pointless delay in the prosecutors’ criminal trial procedure. This may be due to the lack of evidence or witnesses.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Federal court records can be cleared by sealing or expungement processes. Some federal crimes are automatically sealed/expunged.

Following the U.S Code section 5038, juvenile criminal records and sealed and, therefore inaccessible to the general public. However, eligible persons such as law officers and individuals with court orders may view such records.

Federal criminal records of persons under the age of twenty-one who violate the Controlled Substance Act can be expunged upon request following U.S federal laws.

Interested persons may also write a letter to the judge or file a petition at the court where the criminal case proceedings occurred. The judge reviews petitions to clear federal criminal history and passes a verdict based on the reasons stated. If the judge grants the petition, records of the federal crimes are cleared.

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