Oregon Court Records
What Are the Differences Between Federal and Oregon State Crimes?
Criminal offenses are violations of state or federal criminal statutes. There are many differences between federal and state crimes. Some of these differences are:
- The location or jurisdiction where the offense occurs: offenses that take place on federal property or across state boundaries are federal crimes, while violations that occur within the confines or jurisdiction of a state are typically state crimes.
- The guiding statutes or laws: the Federal Criminal Code defines federal crimes, while state criminal codes define state crimes. Federal lawmakers pass federal laws, such as the United States Congress, while state lawmakers pass state laws.
- The enforcing agencies: Typically, state law enforcement agencies initiate and handle state criminal processes. Examples of such agencies include the Oregon State Police, city police, and county sheriffs. Federal agencies initiate and handle criminal cases. Examples of federal agencies are the DEA, FBI, USSS, DHS, and ICE.
Examples of federal crimes are:
- Internet crimes
- Money laundering
- Drug trafficking
- Immigration violations
Examples of state crimes are:
- Sexual offenses
It is possible that an offense is both a state and a federal crime or that a violation is a crime within both federal and state jurisdictions. The United States Constitution protects citizens from double jeopardy. In other words, a person cannot be tried more than once for the same offense in the same state. However, this rule does not apply to violations that fall within both federal and state jurisdictions. According to the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine, a person may be tried for the same offense in different states and federal and state courts. This is because each state is identified as sovereign with its particular laws.
How Does the Oregon State Court System Differ from the Federal Court System?
The Oregon state court system involves state-instituted processes and state agencies. The Oregon Statutes define what constitutes a crime in the state and the applicable penalties. Additionally, state prosecutors, state law enforcement agencies, and state courts handle crimes or offenses. State courthouses, such as circuit courts, justice courts, municipal courts, tax courts, courts of appeals, and state supreme courts hear criminal trials and other litigation cases within the state’s jurisdiction.
In Oregon, judges are elected by non-partisan votes.
If there is a vacancy, the Governor may appoint a judge to fill the position. However, such a person will be required to go through the voting system at the next election. The Supreme court may remove, retire, or suspend any Oregon state judge deemed unfit to serve. Judges may also be subject to recall elections.
The federal court system, on the other hand, involves federal processes and federal agencies. The Federal Criminal Code defines what constitutes a federal crime, and it also establishes applicable penalties. Federal courts hear federal criminal cases, with a U.S. Attorney serving as prosecutor. While persons convicted of state crimes face incarceration in state prisons or county jails, any person convicted of a federal crime will face imprisonment in federal prison.
The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the authority to confirm federal judges’ appointment and justice and convict or impeach them when necessary. Typically, federal judges serve for life or until retirement.
How Many Federal Courts Are There in Oregon?
In Oregon, there is only one federal court, which is the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. The court serves the state of Oregon and has four courthouses. The court’s headquarters are in Portland, and the other courthouses are in Eugene, Pendleton, and Medford.
Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse
1000 S. W. Third Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse
405 East Eighth Ave.
Eugene, OR 97401
John F. Kilkenny United States Post Office and Courthouse
104 S. W. Dorion
Pendleton, OR 97801
James A. Redden U.S. Courthouse
310 West Sixth St.
Medford, OR 97501
Are Federal Cases Public Records?
According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), every federal agency’s records are public, and any interested persons may inspect or copy them. Unless the requested records are exempted or excluded from the FOIA, the agency maintaining the records must make them available for inspection or copying. The exemptions protect
- National security
- Federal agency rules and internal practices
- Trade secrets
- Any records restricted from public access by law.
- Policy-making processes
- Personal privacy
- Certain law enforcement records
- Financial institution regulation
- Geophysical and geological information
- Classified FBI information
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 of 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
Requesting parties may use PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) to find federal records online. PACER allows users to search for records by national index and specific court. The Case Locator tool helps users without court information to search a nationwide index of records for particular case records. To use PACER, interested persons must first create user accounts. Account registration is free, but case record searches bring fees over a certain threshold. Every record search is billed at $0.10, and users who expend more than $30 every quarter will be charged the corresponding amount. The platform waives fees for users who do not spend more than $30 in a quarter on record searches.
Interested persons may also find court-specific federal records online through the District of Oregon Case Management and Electronic Filing System (CM/ECF Document Filing System).. It is a PACER-related system, and users may log in using PACER credentials. The CM/ECF user manual provides useful information on navigating the website and the requirements for use.
In some courthouses, requesting parties may find court records using PACER terminals.
PACER contains federal court records filed since 1990. Interested parties may need to contact the court where the case was heard or where the records are maintained to find records filed before 1990.
How to Find Federal Court Records in Oregon?
Clerks of Court serve as custodians of court records and case files. Interested persons must contact the Clerk of the court where the record is maintained to find physical copies of federal court records in Oregon. Requesting parties are advised to make requests detailed, containing enough information to make the record identifiable. Requesting parties interested in making copies of records may be charged a fee; however, such persons may freely inspect public records at the courthouse.
Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed in Oregon?
Under certain conditions, federal courts may dismiss criminal cases. Although federal crimes are not typically dismissed, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provide for dismissal when there are unnecessary delays in processing the case. If there are delays in filing charges, bringing a defendant to trial, or presenting payment to a grand jury, the court may dismiss it.
Additionally, the federal government, with the permission of the court, may dismiss a federal criminal case. However, the defendant must consent to the government’s dismissal of the prosecutor during a trial.
How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?
Federal laws do not provide for express expungement of criminal records. Very few federal criminal records may be expunged. There are also limited circumstances under which the records may be expunged. The FBI may expunge DNA records for persons whose convictions have been dismissed or overturned where military service members are concerned. Drug misdemeanor records for persons under 21 may also be expunged if:
- The person has no prior drug conviction.
- The court dismisses the case without entering a judgment.
Federal criminal records are also rarely sealed. Records of juvenile delinquency are sealed and restricted from public access. For other federal court and criminal records, interested persons may petition the court to have records sealed. The motion to seal must be filed in the federal court where the case was heard. However, the decision to seal the records lies solely with the court. If the court finds substantial reasons for the records to be sealed, the court may grant the request.