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Minnesota Court Records

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What Are the Differences Between Federal and State Crimes?

A notable distinction between federal crimes and state crimes is the different legal processes used to handle criminal charges in the jurisdiction of a federal court and state court. Federal crimes in the United States occur when there is a violation of federal laws. They are usually investigated by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA, IRS, and DHS.

Federal crimes in the United States include:

  • Forgery
  • Drug trafficking
  • Espionage
  • Treason
  • Customs violation
  • Illegal immigration
  • Any crime committed in a federal jurisdiction
  • Identity theft
  • Currency counterfeiting
  • Fraud

While federal agencies investigate and prosecute federal crimes, the state and local law enforcement agencies handle state crimes following the state laws. Criminal cases are also heard at a state criminal court and presided by state-elected judges. Typical state crimes include:

  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Murder
  • Assault and battery

However, both the state and federal agencies may investigate and prosecute some crimes. This category of crimes may have violated both the state and federal criminal laws or happened in a jurisdiction maintained by both the state and the federal government. In some situations, the state may have investigated a crime before a federal agency takes over.

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

The Minnesota state court system and the U.S federal court may have similar justice processes but they differ in some procedures. The U.S attorneys, appointed by the U.S Attorney General, prosecute federal crimes. Prosecution of state crimes is handled by elected attorneys. While federal judges preside over all types of criminal cases heard at a federal court, state judges usually specialize in some case types. U.S federal judges are appointed for life but Minnesota state district judges are elected for a two-year term while the elected chief-judge has a three-year term.

How Many Federal Courts are There in Minnesota?

Minnesota state houses three federal court within its jurisdiction:

  • United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota
  • United States Court of Appeal for the Eight Circuit

The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota is a federal district court in Minnesota. The court has four locations in the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Fergus Falls.

Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse

300 South Fourth Street, Suite 202,

Minneapolis, MN 55415.

(612) 664–5000

Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

316 North Robert Street,

Suite 100,

St. Paul, MN 55101

(612) 664–5000

Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse and Customhouse

515 West First Street,

Suite 417,

Duluth, MN 55802–1397

(612) 664–5000

Edward J. Devitt United States Courthouse and Federal Building

118 South Mill Street,

212 USPO Building,

Fergus Falls, MN 56537

(612) 664–5000

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota handles federal cases that involve bankruptcy issues. The court also has its locations in the cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, and Fergus Falls:

Warren E. Burger Federal Building and United States Courthouse

316 North Robert Street,

Suite 200,

St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 848–1000

301 Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse

300 South Fourth Street,

Minneapolis, MN 55415,

(612) 664–5200

404 Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and

United States Courthouse and Custom house

515 West First Street,

Duluth, MN 55802,

(218) 529–3600

204 Edward J. Devitt United States Courthouse and Federal Building

118 South Mill Street

Fergus Falls, MN 56537

The United States Court of Appeal for the Eight Circuit has a location in Minnesota in the city of St. Paul:

Federal Court Building

316 North Robert Street

Room 500

St. Paul, MN. 55101

(651) 848–1300

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Under federal laws, members of the public have access to inspect and copy records of federal cases. However, the public has limited access to non-confidential federal case records. Some federal cases information is exempted from the public due to the sensitive material it may contain. Such information may breach the privacy of the parties involved or could potentially lead to a security compromise. Typically, the public may access information on federal cases at the clerk of court’s office or online.

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

Interested persons may find Minnesota federal court records online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), Intending users of the PACER system will have to register an account to get access to records maintained on the platform. Users can search for a case by the federal court the case was filed or through the national index. Some relevant information about the case may be required to bring out results on the desired records. Access to Minnesota federal court records on the PACER system costs $0.10 per page and $3 per document. 30 pages of a record are equivalent to a single document. Users may view the fee schedule for more information on the costs of accessing records and available waivers.

How to Find Federal Court Records in Minnesota?

Interested persons may obtain federal court records in-person or via U.S mail at the courthouse, the case was filed. The clerks of the federal court are responsible for the management and dissemination of the records of federal cases. To obtain federal court records in-person, interested persons may visit the clerk’s office and provide the required information to get a copy of the desired record. Charges may apply for retrieval and copying of records. Records may also be requested by preparing a written mail and sending it to the clerk’s location via U.S mail.

Requests for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota’s federal court records can be addressed to the clerks of court offices at the courthouses in the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Fergus Falls. in-person requests are done from 8:00 a.m.—4:30p.m. Requestors may also send requests via mail to the court location.

Interested persons may also obtain federal court records from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota by visiting the courthouse location in-person or sending a written request via mail. Charges may apply following the court’s fee schedule.

Records of older federal court cases that are unavailable on electronic platforms may be gotten from the National Archives and Records Administration(NARA). Interested persons may download and complete the forms on the webpage and mail it to a NARA office location. Information required includes the case number and location details. Charges may apply following the fee schedule.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed in Minnesota?

Though very rare, the dismissal of federal criminal cases in Minnesota can happen. The dismissal of federal crimes in a criminal prosecution means the termination of all proceedings against the defendant. The court may dismiss criminal cases if there is an unnecessary delay in the presentation of the criminal charges to the grand jury. Defendants have the right to a speedy trial and a breach of this may invalidate the charges brought against them.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Interested persons may clear their federal criminal records through sealing and expungement. While the expungement of criminal records clears it off an offender’s background history, sealing of records restricts public access to selected records. The court has the power to seal and expunge criminal records. Persons who want to clear criminal records may file a petition at the court where their criminal case was heard. Upon receiving the petition, the judge will decide his verdict based on if the reasons to clear a criminal record is in the state’s best interest. However, some records such as juvenile criminal records involving controlled substance use may be automatically restricted to the public.

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