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What Are the Differences Between Federal and Kentucky State Crimes?

The United States Congress or federal lawmakers instituted federal laws and procedures to protect national interests. Any violation of federal regulations is a federal crime. Additionally, offenses committed on federal property or within federal jurisdiction are federal crimes. Persons who commit offenses designated as crimes under the federal criminal code will be tried in federal courts. There are federal courts in every United States district, of which Kentucky has two. Persons convicted of federal crimes may face incarceration in federal prison.

Federal agencies typically initiate and handle federal crimes. Examples of such agencies are the United States Secret Service (USSS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Postal System (USPS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Crimes committed across state boundaries are federal crimes. Other examples of federal crimes are:

  • Mail fraud
  • Perjury
  • Tax crimes
  • Identity theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Bribery
  • Drug crimes
  • Human trafficking
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Internet fraud

Any violation of state statutes is a state crime. State legislators pass state laws or statutes, and such laws serve to protect the state’s interests and the public good. Typically, state crimes take place within the jurisdiction or physical boundaries of a particular state. State agencies such as the state police, city police, and local sheriff’s offices initiate and handle state crimes. Persons charged with state crimes are tried in state courts and may face incarceration in state prison or county jail.

Examples of state crimes include:

  • Burglary
  • Murder
  • Assault
  • Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUI)
  • Arson
  • Shoplifting
  • Grand larceny
  • Impersonating a state officer
  • Counterfeiting
  • Sexual assault

Some crimes are punishable under both federal and state laws. In cases of concurrent jurisdiction, where an offense falls under state and federal jurisdictions, parties may move it to the court where a more favorable outcome is likely.

In instances where state laws contradict federal laws, Article VI of the US Constitution provides that federal law is supreme, and federal judges can nullify the contradicting state law. This is the Supremacy Clause.

How Does Kentucky State Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?

The differences between federal and Kentucky state court systems are mainly those of processes and officials. The Kentucky state court system uses the Kentucky Penal Code, while federal code guides federal criminal procedures. State courts such as the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, District Courts, and Family Courts hear state criminal cases in Kentucky. Federal criminal cases are heard at federal courts by federal judges. State prosecutors try criminal cases in Kentucky while federal prosectors try federal criminal cases.

In Kentucky, state agencies such as the Kentucky State Police, city police, sheriff’s offices, and other local law enforcement initiate state criminal cases. Federal criminal cases involve federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ICE, and DHS.

Kentucky state judges are elected from districts by a nominating commission and serve fixed four-to-eight-year terms. The President of the United States appoints federal judges, but Congress confirms the appointments. Federal justices and judges serve until retirement or death. Only the Senate and the House of Representatives may impeach or convict a federal judge.

Although there are differences in federal and state court procedures and systems, some similarities exist in both trial systems. Both methods involve arraignments or preliminary trials and jury trials. A pre-selected panel listens to the arguments, witnesses, and pieces of evidence presented by the prosecuting and defending parties. Both trial systems also involve sentencing by a judge. While the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines guide federal judges, Kentucky state judges use the Kentucky Penal Code guidelines.

How Many Federal Courts Are There in Kentucky?

There are two federal courts in Kentucky.

  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  • The US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky has jurisdiction encompassing up to 67 Kentucky counties. The court’s headquarters are in Lexington, and divisional offices are located in London, Ashland, Pikeville, Covington, and Frankfort.

101 Barr Street
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 233 - 2503

310 South Main Street
London, KY 40741
(606) 877 - 7910

1405 Greenup Avenue
Ashland, KY 41101
(606) 329 - 2465

110 Main Street
Pikeville, KY 41501
(606) 437 - 6160

35 W. 5th Street
Covington, KY 41011
(859) 392 - 7925

330 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 223 - 5225

  • The US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky has jurisdiction comprising 53 Kentucky counties. The headquarters of the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky is in Louisville. Other courthouses are in Paducah, Owensboro, and Bowling Green.

601 W. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 625–3500

501 Broadway
Paducah, KY 42001
(270) 415–6400

423 Frederica Street
Owensboro, KY 42301
(270) 689–4400

Bowling Green
241 East Main Street
Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 393–2500

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Interested parties may request access to federal case records. The Freedom of Information Act, which was enacted to encourage transparency in governance and keep the public informed about government activities, guarantees access. However, there are exemptions to the public records rule. The exemptions protect citizens’ privacy, law enforcement, and national security. Sealed records, records to which public access would constitute a breach of privacy, and records designated confidential by law are not accessible to the public.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, 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

Federal court records are case files, which contain docket sheets and other documents generated or filed in a case. Interested parties may find federal court records online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website.

Users are required to register for an account to use PACER. There are different types of accounts, depending on the use. Persons interested in searching for case records may register for a Case Search Only account. Attorneys and non-attorney filers may also register for accounts based on specific uses. Registration is free; however, users may be charged $0.10 per page and $0.10 per search results page. Users who access no more than $30 worth of records in a quarter may use PACER at no charge.

Persons who do not know which court a record was filed in may use the PACER case locator to search for court records. Users may also find court records filed in specific courts. For example, parties interested in Kentucky Eastern District Court Records or Kentucky Western District Court Records may find the desired information using the website’s links. The PACER website provides answers to questions about how to use the website in the FAQ section.

How to Find Federal Court Records in Kentucky?

Parties interested in obtaining physical federal court records in Kentucky may visit the courthouse where the case record is maintained. Alternatively, interested persons may visit the Federal Records Center (FRC) in Kentucky to obtain physical copies of federal court records. Requesting parties must note that sealed and confidential information may be redacted or removed from public records.

The courts may charge fees to make copies of records, but interested persons may inspect public records for free.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed in Kentucky?

Federal crimes are rarely dismissed. The Federal Rules Criminal Procedure (Rule 48) highlight conditions under which a federal crime may be dismissed. The court may dismiss criminal charges against a person if the person is found not guilty of the charged offense. Cases with insubstantial evidence and cases where the prosecution fails to establish probable cause may also be dismissed. The court may also dismiss a federal crime if there are delays in:

  • Filing against a person
  • Bringing a defendant to trial
  • Presenting a charge against the defendant to the jury

With the court’s permission, the government may also dismiss criminal charges against a defendant.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Some court records, such as juvenile delinquency records, are automatically sealed and only available to authorized persons. Parties interested in sealing personal criminal records may file a motion with the court where the case was heard. If the court determines that it is in the public interest for the record to be sealed or a chance of information being misused in the future, the court may grant the motion to seal the record.

There are no provisions for general expungement in federal statutes. However, individual records may be expunged under some circumstances. The types of records that can be expunged are limited, as are the cases under which the records may be expunged. For example, if a member of the armed forces is charged with a unique offense, but the charge is overturned, DNA information collected in the case process may be expunged.

  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!