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Hawaii Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And State Crimes?

An important distinction between federal and state crimes is in the type of agency with investigative authority over the crimes. Violations of federal laws are handled by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and others. Whereas, crimes that break Hawaii state laws are under the jurisdiction of state investigative agencies such as the county, city, or state police departments. In some instances, individuals may commit offenses that fall under state and federal jurisdictions and, as such, be subject to prosecution under both federal and state laws. Common instances include kidnapping, murder, weapons trafficking, and robbery cases. Below are examples of federal and state crimes:

  • Federal crimes: Tax evasion, aircraft hijacking, treason, credit card fraud, postal fraud, animal cruelty, child pornography, forgery, embezzling, immigration, and computer crimes
  • State crimes: Arson, murder, insurance fraud, criminal traffic violations, rape, burglary, child abuse, identity theft, investment fraud, and sexual assault

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

In Hawaii, court proceedings in the state and federal criminal courts are different, yet somewhat similar. While the inherent structures of the two court systems are alike in court functions and trial procedures, the parties with authority to hear, investigate, and prosecute criminal cases differ. The Hawaiʻi court system consists of the Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and trial courts such as the Land Court, Tax Appeal Court, Circuit Courts, Family Courts, District Courts, and Environmental Courts. The courts with jurisdiction over criminal cases are the Circuit Courts (felony cases) and District Courts (misdemeanor cases). The Circuit Courts also handle jury trials for misdemeanor cases transferred from the District Courts, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals hears most appeals from the two trial courts. Judges of the Circuit Courts and Intermediate Court of Appeals are nominated by the Judicial Selection Commission, selected by the governor, and serve 10-year terms. In contrast, the chief justice of the Supreme Court selects the District Court judges who serve 6-year terms. Under Article VI §3 of the Hawaii Constitution, judges do not serve past the age of 70 in the state. The Hawaii Attorney General appoints prosecuting attorneys representing the state.

In the Hawaii federal court system, the U.S District Court and United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit handle criminal cases. These courts conduct criminal proceedings under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, Criminal Local Rules, and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The U.S Attorney General designates attorneys to represent the federal government in criminal prosecutions. In the United States, judges are nominated by Congress members, selected by the President, and confirmed by the Senate.

How Many Federal Courts Are There In Hawaii?

There is a district court and bankruptcy court in the State of Hawaii:

  • The United States District Court District of Hawaii
  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of Hawaii
  • The United States District Court District of Hawaii is located in Honolulu at the address below:

United States District Court

300 Ala Moana Boulevard

Room C–338

Honolulu, HI 96850

Phone: (808) 541–1300

Fax: (808) 541–1303

  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of Hawaii has its courthouse in Honolulu. Below is the court’s address and contact details:

United States Bankruptcy Court

District of Hawaii

1132 Bishop Street

Suite 250

Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: (808) 522–8100

Fax: (808) 522–8120

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

A majority of federal case records, transcripts, and docket sheets are accessible to the public. Exceptions include records sealed by statute or court order. Anyone can order court records in electronic or paper forms by requesting through official electronic and conventional channels provided by the courts. Usually, there is no charge to inspect or view these records, but there are fees assessed for copying documents. The court fees are uniform across federal courts and can be viewed on the fee schedule page.

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 resides 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 Court Records Online

Federal court records are available online via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Using the platform, individuals may access docket sheets, case files, case activities, and other case-related information/documents. The Federal Digital System may be used to view court opinions at no cost. Interested parties may search, view, and copy records in the district and appeals courts by paying a fee. Inquiries on using the platform may be directed to the PACER help center by calling (800) 676–6856 on weekdays or by email. Alternatively, this information is accessible on the FAQ and help pages. If the record cannot be found on PACER, the applicable court of record may be contacted.

How To Find Federal Court Records In Hawaii?

In Hawaii, federal court records may be accessed in-person via public access terminals or in the Clerk’s office. Copies made through the terminals cost 10 cents per page while those made and Clerk’s office, whether electronic or hard copies, cost 50 cents per document. Record searches cost $31 per name and it costs $11 to certify a document. Parties requesting over 20 pages may use the Photocopy Request Form to make their orders. The following record information is required by the Clerk to process these requests:

  • Case number
  • Case title
  • File number.

Acceptable payment methods include cash, check, money order, or cashier’s check made payable to the Clerk, U.S District Court. Individuals requiring older records that are unavailable at the courts may order through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) directly using the fax/email/mail, or online services, or request to retrieve the records through the courthouse. For courthouse retrieval requests, it costs $64 per order and $39 for each additional box. Requesters may check other assessed fees on the fee schedule. Orders made through the court take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive at the courthouse. Transcript requests may be made to the official court reporters for a fee using the following forms: the Transcript Order Form (for non-appeal cases) and the Transcript Order Form (for appeals cases). Instructions for ordering are available on the applicable forms.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Hawaii?

Yes, federal charges against defendants can be dismissed in Hawaii. The Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 48 provides instances where the government or courts may dismiss crimes with or without prejudice. Unlike the government who may only dismiss with the consent of the court and defendant, the courts have exclusive authority to permit dismissals when there are delays. These delays may involve presenting charges to a grand jury, bringing the defendant to trial, and presenting evidence. When criminal charges are dismissed without prejudice, the defendant may still face retrial or prosecution at a subsequent date.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Individuals convicted of federal crimes face serious repercussions including immigration, financial, residential, employment restrictions. As a result, ex-offenders may seek to clear their criminal records by expungement. An expungement order ensures that the convictions, charges, and arrests in a record are destroyed completely, thereby giving the offender a clean slate. However, federal expunctions occur infrequently and when they do, may only happen under certain conditions which include:

  • Merit or presidential pardon
  • Government misconduct
  • Clerical error
  • Outdated laws

Federal statues provide an instance where expunction may be permitted for a first time drug offender under U.S. Code § 3607(c). In this scenario, the party is required to have been below age 21 at the time of the offense with no prior convictions. Parties who seek relief under expungement may send a written petition to the court as there are no routine application procedures or forms.

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