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Kansas Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And Kansas State Crimes?

Many crimes committed in the United States are state crimes and are often handled by the state courts. However, a significant difference between federal and state crimes can be attributed to the various enforcement agencies in charge of prosecuting the offender. Even though the court procedures are similar, the federal court system remains different from that of the state. Agencies that investigate, charge, and prosecute federal crimes include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Internal Revenue Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Typically, crimes are considered federal crimes when the offense can be prosecuted under federal criminal law. Various examples of federal crimes in the United States include;

  • Bank robbery
  • Computer or cybercrimes
  • Tax evasion
  • Mail fraud
  • Kidnapping
  • Treason
  • Drug crimes
  • Counterfeiting and forgery
  • Embezzlement and fraud
  • Organized crime and racketeering
  • Espionage
  • Crimes against U.S. employees or committed on federal properties

Unlike federal crimes that are prosecuted by federal agencies, crimes in Kansas are handled by the government bodies established under the state jurisdiction, and the process of prosecution is carried out using the Kansas criminal codes. Local law enforcement, state prosecutors, and judges under the state judicial system manage criminal offenses. These acts are considered state crimes because the misdeeds occurred in the state. Examples of state crimes in Kansas include;

  • Murder and manslaughter
  • Sex-related offenses
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Extortion
  • Kidnapping
  • Human trafficking
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Counterfeiting and forgery

Although some criminal acts are only considered crimes under the federal criminal law, many crimes fall under the jurisdiction of both the state and federal criminal laws and can be prosecuted either by the state or the federal judicial systems.

How Does the Kansas Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?

In reference to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures, which guide each part of a criminal trial under the Federal Court System, criminal activities at the federal level are prosecuted by United States attorneys. District court judges decide the outcomes. Although the federal magistrate judges hear the case’s initial stages, the magistrate judges do not give the verdicts of criminal proceedings. Also, grand juries are a vital part of federal trials as the district court judges will make a judgment based on the jury’s uniform decision. The federal criminal process breakdown includes; investigation, charging, the initial arraignment, discovery, plea bargaining, preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions, the main trial, post-trial motions, sentencing, and appeal.

In Kansas, the criminal process is not in contrast to the federal procedure, but the prosecution is either from the municipal, county, or district attorney’s office. Furthermore, the cases are concluded by the district court judges, which retains the authority to try and convict persons who commit state crimes. The state criminal prosecution procedure involves; investigation, warrant, charging, the initial appearance, preliminary hearing, arraignment, pre-trial motions, the main trial, sentencing, and appeal.

How Many Federal Courts Are There in Kansas

The state of Kansas has one federal court, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, which has three locations in Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita. The addresses are as follows:

Robert J. Dole Courthouse
500 State Avenue, Rm 259
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Phone: (913) 735–2200
Fax: (913) 735–2201

Frank Carlson Federal Building
444 S. E. Quincy, Rm 490
Topeka, Kansas 66683
Phone: (785) 338–5400
Fax: (785) 338–5401

Wichita U.S. Courthouse
401 N. Market, Rm 204
Wichita, Kansas 67202
Phone: (316) 315–4200
Fax: (316) 315–4201

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

The United States Supreme Court, following the Freedom of Information Act, has recognized the right to review and make copies of documents used in judicial proceedings and related matters. When access to court records is given to public members, it helps to follow lawsuits and ensures fairness and equity in the process. The ability to review federal cases also helps to protect public health and welfare, while providing the necessary information to the media, which educates the public on matters that concern the public interest. Although public access to court records is vital, confidential files are not ordinarily made available. Examples of private court documents include unexecuted summons or warrants, juvenile records, and information about jurors. Other court records not open to the public include:

  • Documents that have sensitive information like classified details of national security matters
  • Files with protective orders during discovery to fortify an individual from annoyance, oppression, or undue burden or expense
  • Court records with certain information from bankruptcy, which can lead to the risk of identity theft or injury.

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 court records can be obtained online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service, an internet-based filing system used by courts in the United States. Upon registration, PACER grants anyone access to search and locate case and docket information generated by federal courts (appellate, district, and bankruptcy), in and outside the state of Kansas. PACER has features like the PACER case locator that helps to locate a particular case when the requestor does not know the court in which the case was filed. Most clerks of federal courts also maintain a public access terminal online for all cases filed at the court. Through the use of PACER, some information that can be retrieved includes:

  • Names of parties involved in the case, including judges and attorneys
  • Case-related information like causes of action, nature of the suit, and fines
  • A listing of case events as they occur
  • A registry of claims
  • Listing of new cases
  • Court opinions
  • Status of the case and final judgments
  • Documents filed for some cases.

Access to federal court records through the public access terminal at the courthouse is free, but a printing fee of ten (10) cents per page is payable. The PACER service costs $.10 per page to obtain federal court documents, with a maximum charge of three dollars ($3) per copy. PACER users pay quarterly, even though there is a fee exemption when the exemption request form is completed at the court. However, this waiver is only applicable to individual researchers.

How To Find Federal Court Records In Kansas?

In Kansas, there are various means by which federal court records can be requested and obtained by individuals and some of the methods include;

  • Public Access Computer Terminals: The public access terminals are located in the various federal courthouses, which serve as divisional offices of the United States District Court for Kansas. Federal courthouses in Kansas can be found in Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita, and the Clerk of the Courts manages the computer terminals. The search for documents relating to federal cases can be done using information such as the case number, name of parties involved in the legal action, or a date range for when the filing took place. Most civil cases filed after 1991 and criminal cases filed after 1994 can be accessed using the terminals. Also, document images of civil cases from March 2003 onwards are available in PDF format. The courthouses open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. 
  • Record Requests made to the Clerk’s Office: The federal courthouses in Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita, have a repository of court records maintained by the Clerk’s Office. The files can be obtained by contacting the Clerk’s Office by phone call, email, mail, or visiting the office in person. Copies of federal case documents are made when an applicant pays the appropriate fee attached. Forms of payment accepted at the office include check, cash, credit, and debit cards.
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): Most reports of federal case proceedings that cannot be acquired at the district courts may be obtainable at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA provides an online system used for ordering federal court records by the public. Also, records or documents that do not exceed thirty pages can be scanned and sent in a PDF format via email.

For interested individuals who prefer inspecting the records in person, the District Court’s Clerk can retrieve the document from NARA for $64, payable as the request is being made. An essential requirement is the accession and location number of the record provided by the Clerk’s Office. Once the case files have been retrieved, applicants will only have the opportunity to review the Clerk’s Office document. The Clerk of the Court may also permit the reproduction of such records if the requesting party pays the Clerk’s Office’s service charge.

  • Purchase of transcripts: District courts, through the appointed court reporters, keep a written transcript of legal processes during a case. Transcripts can be obtained when a request is made by persons involved in the case or through a court order. The court recorder follows the step by step guide prescribed by the Judicial Conference to prepare the transcripts like the page rates, page formats, or delivery schedules. Individuals who wish to obtain court transcripts will need to contact the Clerk’s Office.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Kansas?

Federal criminal charges can only be dismissed by the prosecutor (in this case, U.S. Attorney or the Attorney-General) or by the court if legal errors were observed when the case was filed in court. Nevertheless, dismissed federal crimes will still reflect on the individual’s criminal record. Rule 48 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure focuses on dismissals. According to this rule, a court can dismiss a criminal charge if there is an unnecessary delay in filing evidence against a defendant, bringing a defendant to trial or presenting a charge to a grand jury, and when the prosecuting party finds the defendant not guilty of the charges.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Generally, it is hard to clear federal criminal records, and the absence of a standard set of statutes to get it done makes it a rare occurrence. When a federal criminal history is cleared or expunged, it is no longer accessible by the public or on background checks. The federal judge reserves the authority to expunge a person’s criminal record. The expungement of files from the conviction of federal criminal offenses is possible under the Federal First Offender Act 18 U.S.C § 3607(c). The act states that a person who has not been found guilty of the possession of small amounts of certain controlled substances and is still under the age of 21 when the charge was filed, can have both the charge and conviction cleared completely from criminal history record. Following the DNA Identification Information, 10 U.S.C § 1565(e), the DNA analysis of a federal offender can be cleared when the conviction is changed. A court can also be petitioned under the U.S.C § 5038, expunge, or clear juvenile records.

However, due to the judicial branch’s division into thirteen federal circuits, with each circuit comprising federal district courts and appellate courts, most circuits agree that the federal judge retains the power to clear both arrest and conviction records. In contrast, some other circuits disagree with this notion. So the chances of getting a criminal record removed depend on the court that heard the case. If the court does not subscribe to federal judges having the authority to expunge, it will not happen. Even circuits in support of judges giving the order for the expunction of criminal records, the unlying rule is, the judge must believe it is in the interest of justice to carry out the act. Expungement is, therefore, mostly reserved for exceptional circumstances. If the records will not help future investigations, misuse of the record might occur in the future, police misconduct was observed during the arrests, and if the arrest records do not protect the society in any way, a court may grant the expungement.

Since there is no standard process for clearing a record, an application can be filed at the district court or by writing a judge at the court to expunge the federal criminal record.

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