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New Jersey Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And State Crimes?

Parties commit federal offenses when they violate federal laws, and can be convicted for state crimes if they violate New Jersey’s criminal laws. There are a couple of differences between federal and state crimes, ranging from the laws, the institutions with jurisdiction, the court system, and law enforcement procedures. However, one critical difference is the type of agency equipped to handle the cases. In federal crimes, the agencies with jurisdiction are federal bodies such as the FBI, DEA, IRS, FAMS, USMS, ATF, ICE, and Secret Service. When an offense falls under the jurisdiction of the state, the agencies involved are state agencies such as law enforcement (state, county, and city police officers), prosecuting attorneys, state criminal courts, and other agencies that are authorized to provide related services. In special cases, a crime can be considered as both if it violates both federal and state criminal laws. An example of this is an interstate crime.

Federal crimes include:

  • Tax evasion
  • Money laundering
  • Identity theft
  • Weapons trafficking
  • Credit card fraud
  • Child pornography
  • Organized crimes
  • Human trafficking
  • Postal fraud
  • White-collar crimes
  • Illegal immigration
  • Computer crimes
  • Electoral fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Any crime occurring on federal property

State crimes include:

  • Crimes committed against persons such as assault and battery, rape, sexual assault, murder, robbery, hate crimes, and kidnapping
  • Crimes committed against property such as arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft, vandalism, shoplifting, and larceny
  • Drug possession
  • Fraud

How Does the New Jersey Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?

Federal courts and state courts have different procedures on how criminal cases are handled. When federal laws are violated, federal agencies are responsible for investigating the offenses. These crimes are tried by the federal district courts located in New Jersey and prosecuted by attorneys appointed by the US Attorney General. Federal judges are authorized to hear these cases, and are nominated by the President and appointed for life by the U.S Senate.

In the New Jersey Court System, criminal offenses are heard in the state and local trial courts: the Superior and Municipal Courts. The courts have different jurisdictions and are only allowed to handle specific crimes. Investigative agencies are the state and local law enforcement agencies. The prosecutors, often called district attorneys, are the county, city, and state attorneys. Judges or justices are not appointed for life in New Jersey. Instead, Superior Court judges are nominated by the governor and are subject to reappointment every 7 years with tenure. Municipal Court judges are appointed by town governing bodies for 3 years without tenure.

How Many Federal Courts Are There In New Jersey?

There are 2 federal courts in New Jersey:

  • The United States District Court District of New Jersey
  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Jersey
  • The United States District Court District of New Jersey has divisions in Camden, Newark, and Trenton. Below are the physical addresses of the courthouses:

Mitchell H. Cohen Building

U.S. Courthouse

4th & Cooper Streets

Camden, NJ 08101

Phone: (856) 757–5021

Martin Luther King Building

U.S. Courthouse

50 Walnut Street

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 645–3730

Clarkson S. Fisher Building

U.S. Courthouse

402 East State Street

Trenton, NJ 08608

Phone: (609) 989–2065

  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Jersey has courthouses in Newark, Trenton, and Camden. Below are the court’s physical addresses:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building

50 Walnut Street

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 645–4764

Clarkson S. Fisher US Courthouse

402 East State Street

Trenton, NJ 08608

Phone: (609) 858–9333

U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (Clerk’s Office)

401 Market Street

Camden, NJ 08101

Phone: (856) 361–2300

Mitchell H. Cohen U.S. Courthouse (Courtroom)

400 Cooper Street

Fourth Floor

Camden, NJ 08101

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Yes, federal cases are public records. Members of the public have the right to inspect or copy these records, except those sealed or restricted by statute or court order. Public records may be accessed by querying the appropriate courthouse through online, in-person, and electronic channels provided by the courts. Sealed records and information may include juvenile records, details of minors, financial or identifying information of parties involved in a case.

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 the person was accused or resides 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 Court Records Online

A centralized system called the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) may be used to access and obtain federal court records online. There is a fee assessed for searching and or copying these records. Searchers may obtain records from a New Jersey federal court, or search for the court of record using the PACER Case Locator. Further questions on how to use the platform are answered on the FAQ page or by contacting the help center via (800) 676–6856 (phone) or email. Case information available on PACER include:

  • The names of individuals or parties involved
  • Case-related information
  • Court opinions, available via the Federal Digital System
  • Day-to-day case listings
  • Claims registry
  • Final judgments
  • Case statuses
  • Other case-related documents

For records unavailable on PACER, the requester may contact the relevant court of record for specific instructions on obtaining the records.

How To Find Federal Court Records In New Jersey?

Federal court records from the United States District Court District of New Jersey may be accessed by written request to the court’s division in Camden, Newark, or Trenton. This request can be made in person or by mail. Records may also be obtained through public terminals located in the Clerk offices. There is a $31 fee per search, $0.50 fee per page (for copy requests made in the Clerk’s office), and a $0.10 fee per page (for copy requests made using the public terminals). Additionally, a party may request certification for a record. It costs $11 per certification. If these records have been archived and are not available from the courts, they may be accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Alternatively, the requesting party may order the archived records from NARA through the courts for a fee.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In New Jersey?

Yes, under Rule 48, federal crimes may be dismissed in New Jersey by the federal courts or government. Yet, not all records can be dismissed. The government may dismiss a record only with the approval of the court or consent of the defendant. Whereas, the court may permit dismissal for unnecessary delays under 3 conditions:

  • When there is a delay in presenting evidence against the defendant
  • When there is a delay in bringing the defendant to trial
  • When there is a delay in presenting charges to a grand jury

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

In some states, offenders can have their criminal records destroyed and made forever inaccessible to the public. This is more permanent than sealing or redacting a record and is often the preferable option. However, under federal statutes, it may not be possible to clear or expunge a federal criminal record except under specific provisions:

  • If the party is a first offender covered under the U.S. Code § 3607(c)
  • If it is in the interests of justice or society
  • If a private concern surpasses the public’s right to access the record
  • If the government does not object
  • If the conviction is invalid or involved a clerical error or misconduct by the government
  • If the party was given a pardon

Because there are no specific provisions guiding the expungement of federal criminal records, an interested party may have to petition the court in writing.

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