Mississippi Court Records
What Are The Differences Between Federal And Mississippi State Crimes?
A crime is considered a federal offense when it breaches the United States’ legal codes or when a perpetrator commits several criminal acts, including drug trafficking or commercial fraud in various states. Federal crimes are investigated by government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These government parastatals have the authority to charge a criminal to court, and frequently, the offender gets to face more significant consequences like a lengthy jail term or large fines. The trials for federal offenders take place in a federal court. Examples of criminal activities classed as federal crimes in the United States are;
- Insurance fraud
- Child pornography
- Illegal ownership of firearms
- Drug trafficking
- Mail fraud
- Advocating the overthrow of the government
- Concealing escaped prisoner
- Insider trading crimes
State crimes are acts that violate the criminal statutes in Mississippi and are usually probed by the state police and other law enforcement agencies within the state’s jurisdiction. Persons involved in violations against Mississippi will face trial in the state court. The most committed crimes in Mississippi today are genocide and corruption. Other state crimes include;
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
Seldomly, illegal acts can be prosecuted at the state and federal courts if the offense violates federal and state laws. The double jeopardy clause is a constitution put in place to avoid being tied for the same crime twice. However, there is always an exception. Since the federal and state judicial systems operate separately, the double jeopardy clause does not work. Criminal acts such as bank robbery, burglary, and sexual battery, are seen as crimes under state and federal laws so that the offenders can be tried in either or both the federal and state courts.
How Does the Mississippi Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?
In federal courts, federal judges are appointed by the president and are officially recognized for life. The FBI and DEA agents investigate federal crimes, and federal prosecutors, also known as assistant U.S. attorneys, prosecute offenders. The federal government controls the judicial procedure of violators who commit crimes on federal property or crimes across state lines. Furthermore, federal courts have power over crimes related to U.S. customs violations and immigration. In the federal court system, the district court is where both civil and criminal trials take place. Judgment given at the district court can be appealed at the circuit courts, and an oral argument will be set up to hear the reason the district court’s decision should be reversed or affirmed. The highest court in the United States is the supreme court, and parties not satisfied with the verdict of the circuit courts can as well appeal to the supreme court. Unless the crime committed is against federal law, the supreme court may not consider the case.
In Mississippi state courts, governors appoint the judges, who must sit for reelection every four or eight years, depending on the court. Trial judges in state courts have titles like Superior Court Judge, while state prosecutors have various labels such as state’s attorney, city attorney, or district attorney. Mississippi state court handles criminal procedures for individuals who violate the laws of the state. The state courts have the authority to arrest, charge, try as well as convict criminals. The Mississippi Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are two-tier appellate court systems to evaluate the trial court’s decisions during criminal cases. The Courts of Appeal was initiated to relieve the Supreme Court and hasten the review process.
How Many Federal Courts Are There in Mississippi?
The state of Mississippi houses two (2) federal courts;
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
- The Southern District of Mississippi District Courts are situated in 3 different court locations; Aberdeen, Greenville, and Oxford.
Thomas G. Abernethy Federal Building
Temporary relocation to
911 Jackson Avenue
Oxford, MS 38655
203 Gilmore Dr
Amory, MS 38821
Phone: (662) 369–4952
Post Office and Federal Building
305 Main Street
Greenville, MS 38701
Phone: (662) 234–1971
911 Jackson Avenue East
Oxford, MS 38655
- District Court in the Southern District of Mississippi has four different court locations: Jackson, Hattiesburg, Gulfport, and Natchez.
Thad Cochran United States Courthouse
501 E. Court Street
Jackson, MS 39201
William M. Colmer Federal Building & United States Courthouse
701 North Main Street, Suite 200
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Dan M. Russell, Jr., United States Courthouse
2012 15th Street, Suite 403
Gulfport, MS 39501
United States Courthouse
109 South Pearl Street, 2nd Floor
Natchez, MS 39120
Are Federal Cases Public Records?
Federal cases are public records according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that allows complete public access to federal records that are not confidential or sealed off by the court. The FOIA law also enables interested persons to make copies of federal records and other judicial documents filed in court. Some of the records restricted to the public by the law are documents containing trade secrets or private details, therefore, making accessibility of federal records to the public not absolute.
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
Interested persons can find federal court records online using PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), an electronic service provided by the federal government to make dockets, transcripts, and detailed court proceedings in the court archives accessible. PACER incorporates records documented in appellate courts, bankruptcy courts, and federal district courts. Electronic filing or recording is voluntary in many courts, so the database may not be thorough. Users are charged $.10 per page up to 30 pages for each downloaded file.
Although PACER gives the full public access to federal court records electronically, every court maintains its case information locally. Hence, there is the possibility of being denied access to a record for various reasons, including failure to be specific in the request of a record, sensitive content of the document, or absence of the case file in question. Interested persons can as well contact the PACER Service Center on (800) 676–6856.
How To Find Federal Court Records In Mississippi?
Federal court records in Mississippi can be obtained at the clerk’s office, where the case was filed at first. The clerk at the district court’s office might require notice in advance before an individual can view or make copies of a federal record. However, requests to obtain documents from federal cases can be made verbally or by mail. A list of fees to photocopy federal court records is available at the Clerk of District Court’s Office.
Each district court that manages federal crimes in Mississippi has a system where court files are filed electronically, and interested persons may look up federal court cases. The e-filing system is called Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF), and it has a sophisticated user experience. Entries made through CM/ECF can be accessed by the public, except the files are sealed.
Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Mississippi?
A dismissed case is a lawsuit closed by a court of law without finding the defendant guilty or convicting the alleged offender in a criminal case. However, a dismissal will always remain on the defendant’s criminal history record. A motion to dismiss can be sent to the presiding district court to dismiss a federal crime in Mississippi. The court, in return, will set a date to hear pretrial motions. If the court finds a good cause to discharge the defendant, then the case will be dismissed. According to the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure, parties can have federal crimes dismissed in Mississippi under the following conditions:
Prosecutor’s Discretion: Rarely, the prosecutor in charge of a case might decide to drop the charges due to extenuating conditions. For example, a prosecutor may stop a case because the defendant has a good record, and the investigation leading to the defendant committing the crime is questioned. If a prosecutor dismisses a charge without prejudice, the prosecutor can re-file the case later on but within a stipulated period. Also, a prosecutor can close a case as long as the defendant doesn’t have any new cases within one year. If the violator gets into trouble within that one year, the prosecutor can refile the defendant’s previous charges.
Defective Charge: If the court notices an error in the prosecuting process, the judge may order the defendant’s release. In cases where the plaintiff is unwilling to comply with the court rule, the judge may order the court clerk to dismiss such a lawsuit.
Insufficient Evidence to Support the Jury’s Finding: The court of appeal can reverse a guilt charge if the jury doesn’t find enough evidence to support its decision. In most cases, the defense attorney may request the trial judge to enter a judgment of acquittal before the jury decides. In the court of appeal, the defendant will also repeat the argument and may win the case.
No Jurisdiction: Federal courts only hear cases within the court’s jurisdiction per the constitution, because of the disparity between the state and the federal judicial systems. On rare occasions, a court may go overboard to hear a case it has no authority over. For example, a federal court trying a case that happened on a state property, which initially should be tried in a state court.
How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?
While it is true that federal criminal records are public records, there are ways to restrict access to such records. Most significantly, if it will affect the future of the alleged criminal in the long run. Persons who have been convicted of a crime before may find it challenging to get a job later on as many employers do background checks before engaging a prospective employee. The possible options to withdraw a federal criminal record from public view is by sealing and expungement. The expungement of records in the United States means that documents and files relating to the criminal case will be erased, and the existence can be denied. In contrast, the sealing of criminal records means the criminal files can not be obtained by the public, except on court order.
There’s no fundamental law for the expungement of federal criminal records in the United States because expungement or sealing is rarely allowed. However, expungement laws may vary from state to state. According to the Sealing of Court Records Proceedings by the Federal Judicial Center, certain information is sealed from federal criminal records which include grand jury proceedings, identities of juvenile defendants, false claims act, Social Security number, financial account numbers, taxpayer identification, home address, search warrants, exhibits, settlement, sentences, and pleas. A criminal case may not be sealed in the United States if the act is to protect participating parties from embarrassment.
Records of federal crimes easily removed in the United States are minor drug cases and juvenile prosecutions. Regardless, interested persons may file a petition to the court for expunction. The court can now decide to give the defendant a chance to speak on a scheduled date. During the hearing, the defendant can bring forth testimonies and evidence to prove why the record should be expunged. The evidence presented will determine the final judgment, whether to deny or grant the expungement. However, the court’s possible decision may be that the applicant waits for a certain period without committing an offense before the expungement can occur. If the expunction is granted, the convict has the right to deny any criminal charges. The offender can also state on applications and job interviews that an arrest or incarceration has not been experienced before. Due to how cumbersome the process of expunging a criminal record, most convicts are usually dissuaded from using this option.