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Washington Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And State Crimes?

Crimes in the United States are largely divided into Federal and State crimes. They are primarily distinguished by the laws governing them.

Federal crimes are acts illegal under Federal criminal law passed by Congress. These offenses treated under the criminal law are acts that are generally tied to the welfare of the entire country. They typically threaten the U.S. national security, they are committed on federal property, investigated and prosecuted by federal agencies, and have occurred across multiple state borders. Examples of such crimes include;

  • Bankruptcy Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Embezzlement
  • Federal False Statements
  • Federal Child Pornography Charges
  • Fraud Crimes such as Health Care Fraud and Immigration Fraud
  • Intellectual Property Crimes
  • Internet Crimes
  • Real Estate Fraud
  • Securities Crimes
  • Tax Crimes
  • White Collar Criminal Defense

The federal agencies in charge of investigating federal crimes include;

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF);
  • Department of Homeland Security;
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA);
  • U.S. Secret Service; and the U.S. Marshall Service.

State crimes in Washington DC violate the state criminal codes and are investigated and prosecuted by state and local law enforcement agencies.

Being the national capital, there is a significant presence of law enforcement officials and crimes as well. The state has a crime rate of 54 per 1,000 residents and the highest proportion of police officers to citizens than any other state in the country.

Crimes that fall under state crimes may include;

  • Murder;
  • Burglary;
  • Armed robbery;
  • Theft;
  • Assault and battery;
  • Kidnapping; and
  • Sexual assault.

Some of the state and local law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating state crimes in the district are;

  • Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
  • District of Columbia Protective Services Division.
  • District of Columbia Department of Corrections
  • District of Columbia Housing Authority Office of Public Safety
  • District of Columbia Protective Services Division
  • District of Columbia Public Schools Police

Generally, State crimes reflect acts and conduct that violate state, local or municipal laws, while federal crimes involve violating federal statutes.

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

The Washington Court System constitutes the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Superior Court, and the Courts of limited jurisdiction (District and Municipal courts). In contrast, the Federal Court System comprises only the district courts (the trial court), circuit courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Federal Courts were generally established under the Country’s constitution to address disputes involving the laws passed by the Congress and the Constitution. At the same time, state courts are established under state constitution and laws.

Federal and state courts in Washington differ mainly by their jurisdiction and the types of cases they handle. The state courts have broad jurisdiction over cases in the state. In contrast, the federal courts have limited jurisdiction and address only cases listed in the Constitution, and involve specific federal laws and statutes.

Therefore, a broader jurisdiction translates to state courts having more caseloads and contact with the public than federal courts. Hence, a bulk of regulatory authority resides in the state courts.

Federal and state courts also differ based on procedures and prosecutions. While federal judges are appointed for life by the president, Washington State court judges are elected via nonpartisan elections and sometimes, assisted appointments by the Governor. These judges are elected to serve four and six-year terms depending on the Court they will be presiding over.

Finally, federal crimes are prosecuted by Assisted U.S Attorneys and State crimes are prosecuted by the Washington State District Attorney, otherwise known as the “Prosecuting attorney.”

However, on rare occasions, federal courts may hear cases that relate to state laws that violate the federal institution.


There are 2 Federal District Courts in Washington State, namely;

  • Eastern District of Washington
  • Western District of Washington

The Eastern District of Washington serves a total of 20 counties and has courtroom locations in Spokane, Yakima, and Richland.


Thomas S. Foley the United States Courthouse

920 West Riverside Ave, Room 840

Spokane, WA 99201

Mailing Address:

U.S. District Court

P. O. Box 1493

Spokane, WA 99210–1493

Phone:(509) 458–3400


William O. Douglas the United States Courthouse

25 South 3rd St, Room 201

Yakima, WA 98901

Mailing Address:

U.S. District Court

P. O. Box 2706

Yakima, WA 98907

Phone: (509) 573–6600


Richland U.S. Courthouse & Federal Building

825 Jadwin Avenue, Room 174

Richland, WA 99352

Mailing Address:

U.S. District Court

825 Jadwin Avenue, Room 174

Richland, WA 99352

Phone: (509) 943–8170

The Western District of Washington is divided into 2 divisions that comprise the following counties;

  • Seattle Division: Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties
  • Tacoma Division: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum counties

The federal District Court has courtroom location in;


U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office

700 Stewart Street, Suite 2310

Seattle, WA 98101

(206) 370–8400


U.S. Courthouse

1717 Pacific Avenue, Room 3100

Tacoma, WA 98402–3200

(253) 882–3800

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Federal case records documenting federal court proceedings are generally open to the public per the Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589 (1978).

These have provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency, including courts. They have been mandated by law to disclose any information requested unless it is exempted or sealed by law.

The right of access to inspect and copy judicial records is not absolute because access to some court documents may be sealed to protect interests of personal privacy, national security, trade secrets, and law enforcement.

If an individual is denied access to a case file due to a judicial order, he/she may contest the court order with legal assistance and request a hearing to open the records.

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 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 Court Records Online

Federal courts in Washington state use the system Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) to file their records electronically. These Court dockets and case files can be accessed via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records service, otherwise known as PACER, by establishing a PACER account.

Per country laws, all records sealed or exempted by law are inaccessible on these platforms

PACER provides access to information such as;

  • Names and details of all parties involved in a case, including presiding judges and attorneys.
  • All open case-related information such as nature of suit, cause of action, etc
  • Final judgments or current case status
  • Images of documents, etc.

Inquirers may search the PACER database using case number and party name. If the requested records prove elusive, the inquirer is advised to contact the Federal Court where the case was filed.

PACER provides access to federal court records for a fee that is billed quarterly. However, the fees may be waived if the bill is not more than the specified limit in a quarter.

Inquirers may inspect electronic records for free at the Court clerk’s office in the Court where the case of interest was filed.

For older court records, usually older than 15 years or filed before 1980, the inquirer may search the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) database or contact the Federal Records Centre. Old court records that are due for permanent preservation are transferred to this database.

Federal Records Center

6125 Sand Point Way NE

Seattle, WA 98115–7999

(206) 336–5115

How To Find Federal Court Records In Washington?

An inquirer seeking a Federal court case file in Washington must first determine the Court where the case was filed and if it is publicly available for inspection or copying. This information can be found on each Court’s website and requests section.

  • Eastern District of Washington
  • Western District of Washington

Typically the courts will only provide access to records that are not available on PACER or inaccessible via NARA.

Requests for these records can be made online, via email or traditional mail. The inquirer is required to complete the Copy request form, with the appropriate fees and mail to the clerk’s office

Requests via email should be sent to

questions@wawd.uscourts.gov (Western District)

Or via mail to the Eastern District

Mailing Address:

Spokane Division

U.S. District Court

P. O. Box 1493

Spokane, WA 99210–1493

Phone:(509) 458–3400

Yakima Division

U.S. District Court

P. O. Box 2706

Yakima, WA 98907

Phone: (509) 573–6600

Richland Division

U.S. District Court

825 Jadwin Avenue, Room 174

Richland, WA 99352

Phone: (509) 943–8170

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Washington?

Dismissing a case is closing a lawsuit with no finding of guilt of conviction for the defendant. This procedure is governed by Rule 48 of the Federal Criminal Procedure.

A dismissal doesn’t necessarily mean that a defendant is factually innocent, and although there was no conviction, the charges remain on the individual’s criminal record.

According to the rules, a federal court case or indictment or complaint can only be dismissed by the Government with leave of Court and by the Court when there is unnecessary delay.

The Government, with the permission of the Court, may dismiss a criminal case usually when the dismissal might give the Government tactical advantage over the defendant.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a speedy, public, and fair trial to all defendants in criminal cases. Hence, when unnecessary delays are defeating the purpose of conducting a speedy and fair trial, the Court may dismiss the case. This may be the case when there is delay bringing a defendant to trial, presenting a charge to the grand jury, or filing an information against the defendant.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Expungements legally allow individuals to fail to acknowledge a criminal conviction legally. It is a process that treats conviction and arrests as if they never existed by permanently removing them from an individual’s criminal history. It is similar to sealing criminal records; however, this only restricts public access to the sealed information; it doesn’t delete it permanently.

Generally, a federal court will seal trial records of proceedings where charges against the defendant were overturned and the defendant was found innocent of the charges. The court also seals juvenile records to preserve the confidentiality of juvenile or minor defendants.

However, a federal judge may seal or expunge records of a case if it is in the interest of justice to do so. This action is justified when;

  • Law enforcement misconduct has been proven,
  • The record is no longer important to future criminal investigations,
  • Access to the records may jeopardize national security.

Ex-convicts convicted of a federal crime may have their records expunged by petitioning the federal judge in writing because, typically, sealing or expunging a record depends on the discretion of the presiding judge. The individual must be able to convince the judge that the circumstance is exceptional and that a miscarriage of justice will occur if those records are acknowledged in public.

  • 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!