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Louisiana Court Records

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What Are The Differences Between Federal And Louisiana State Crimes?

Federal crimes in the United States refers to violations against the United States Criminal Codes. Criminal offenses at the federal level are serious, the punishments are severe than that of state-level, and may haunt a person’s life in the future. By authority, federal legislative agencies, including Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can probe crimes committed against the United States. When an individual is under investigation or charged with a federal time, it is advisable to get an experienced attorney to help the defendant get a favorable outcome. Crimes that can be indictable under the federal law include:

  • Terrorism
  • Child trafficking
  • Drug trafficking
  • Piracy
  • Breach of securities law
  • Weapon violation
  • E-crime
  • Money laundering
  • White-collar crimes
  • Kidnapping
  • Child exploitation

State crimes in Louisiana are offenses against Louisiana’s criminal law. Illegal acts in Louisiana are handled within the jurisdiction of the local law enforcement agencies, such as the state police or the county sheriff. Convictions for state crimes may be milder at the state level compared to federal crimes, and prison sentences can be served in a local jail or state prison. Examples of state crimes in Louisiana are:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Human trafficking
  • Armed robbery
  • Arson
  • Carjacking
  • Home invasion
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Theft

The federal and state judicial systems are managed separately. That is, individuals who break federal laws are prosecuted by the federal court, while the state court handles violations of the state statutes. However, legal actions against some certain crimes can be taken up within both the federal and state courts’ jurisdiction. These offenses include kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, money laundering, and child trafficking.

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

The federal criminal justice system begins with filing a complaint officially with the federal authorities, either by a witness or a crime victim. The case will be probed diligently to confirm if a federal offense was committed, and the persons involved in the crime may be invited for questioning. If the suspects have been identified, arrests will be made. The district court, headed by the United States District Judge, tries federal criminal cases. The President of the United States nominates federal judges. Judges of the federation hold this position until the end of their lives and may leave by impeachment or resignation. Also, the district judges selected federal magistrate judges by voting and will be required to serve for eight years or four years for full time and part-time appointments, respectively. Magistrate judges manage issues such as discovery and pre-trial motions.

The court structure in Louisiana is not complicated, and district courts hear most criminal cases as well as the municipal courts in some situations. Additionally, these district courts have limited criminal jurisdiction within the prescribed territory only. Unfavorable judgment at the trial courts can be appealed at the Supreme Court, which gives a final decision and may or may not agree with the district court’s decision. However, a plaintiff also can bring grievances to both the federal and the state court.

How Many Federal Courts Are There In Louisiana

Louisiana has three federal courts:

  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana

The federal court of the Eastern District of Louisiana was established in 1812 and has authority over New Orleans in Louisiana. The court address is as follows:

United States District Court
500 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 589–7650

The Western District of Louisiana federal court is situated in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, and Shreveport. The addresses are:

United States Post Office and Courthouse
515 Murray Street, Suite 105
Alexandria, Louisiana 71301
(318) 473–7415

John M. Shaw United States Courthouse
800 Lafayette Street, Suite 2100
Lafayette Louisiana 70501
(337) 593–5000

Edwin F. Hunter, Jr. U.S. Courthouse
611 Broad Street, Suite 188
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70601
(337) 437–3870

United States Post Office and Courthouse
201 Jackson Street, Suite 215
Monroe, Louisiana 71201
(318) 322–6740

Tom Stagg United States Courthouse
300 Fannin Street, Suite 1167
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
(318) 676–4273

The federal court in Louisiana Middle District operates in just one location within the state, at:

Russell B. Long Federal Building and the United States Courthouse
777 Florida Street, Suite 139
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Phone: (225) 389–3500
Fax: (225) 389–3501

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Louisiana Freedom of Information Laws permits interested persons to review documents generated by governmental bodies. The FOIA law also indicates that the public can not view individual records because of the file’s content in question. Such sensitive information may include an individual’s health status, professional competence, collective bargaining negotiations, discussions on national disasters, deliberations on national security or device, and misconduct investigations.

Also, the Louisiana Open Records Law envisages that, regardless of the method of recording a federal case by a public body, all citizens can access records. Citizens do not need to state the purpose for requesting unless the case involves a juvenile, sexual offense victims, trade secrets, security procedures, or details of a civil servant.

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 from 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

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is the online repository for federal case files. Registration is free on PACER, and interested persons will have to create an account by providing necessary details such as full name, date of birth, address, zip code, phone number, fax number, and email. Inquisitors without the proper knowledge of a particular federal lawsuit can use the PACER Case Locator to conduct a more exhaustive search. However, if the requestor knows the specific court in Louisiana where the case was filed, the search for files from federal proceedings can be done with PACER Case Locator. Furthermore, parties can only find files from federal cases from 1999 to date on PACER, and the court where the case was initially filed maintains documents before 1999 are. Interested parties may have to contact the court to make inquiries. PACER charges $.10 per view or download.

At the same time, each district court located in Louisiana has an electronic database called Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). Records of federal judicial proceedings can be accessed, and parties will be charged $.10 to download a page. The National Archives can also come in handy to obtain records of federal cases online. Interested individuals must register and order copies of selected records by clicking ‘Order Reproductions.’

How To Find Federal Court Records In Louisiana?

Copies of federal court records in Louisiana can be obtained via the National Archives by mail, fax, and email. The National Archives honors requests for records of federal cases related to bankruptcy, civil cases, criminal cases, and the Court of Appeal when the respective request forms are downloaded, completed, and sent to the National Archives’ Office. A duplicated copy of files generated from federal cases in Louisiana costs $0.25. The closest National Archives to Louisiana is located in Fort Worth, Texas, and the address is:

1400 John Burgess Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76140
Phone: (817) 551–2051
Fax: (817) 551–2034
Email: ftworth.archives@nara.gov​

Records filed at the federal court that are not up to 15 years old can not be found at the National Archives. Nevertheless, interested parties may reach out to the appropriate federal court where the case was filed.

Requesters may also order transcripts of the court proceedings of federal cases from the Court Reporter. Each district court in Louisiana has a court recorder that keeps track of every detail of lawsuits. Sealed or expunged federal court records in Louisiana can not be accessed, except the requestor is a law enforcement officer.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In Louisiana?

Indictments for federal crimes are not easily dismissed because violations of federal laws in the United States are perceived as grievous offenses. According to Louisiana State Legislature Art. 576, a court of law can dismiss a federal crime if any irregularity, defect, error, or deficiency, was observed during the court proceedings. If there’s a new prosecution for the same case dismissed earlier, the court will have the new lawsuit dismissed again. In most cases, eligibility for dismissal is based on mental competency, and the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners and the Secret Service will be notified.

Another way to get a federal crime dismissed is to enter a plea agreement for dismissal at the district court where the case was initially filed, upon the grounds that the defendant pleads guilty. However, this process is quite strict because of the peculiarities around federal crimes. For criminal offenses such as bribery and fraud against the government, a written motion for dismissal, highlighting compelling reasons why the crime should be dismissed is compulsory.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

A criminal record can ruin a person’s chance of getting certain political positions, employment, housing, and other opportunities. Options available to erase federal criminal records are expungement and sealing. To expunge a history of crimes means all details of the arrest, the court deletes all court proceedings and convictions from the record. Individuals concerned can deny ever being charged for a criminal offense. Expungement and sealing refer to the same process and can be used interchangeably.

Clearing records of convictions at the federal level can be quite a complex process. The reasons are, the law only made provisions to guide the expungement process of violations related to controlled substances in the United States, and the cost incurred to pursue such relief is on a high side. According to Title 18 of the Crimes and Criminal Procedure, persons eligible for expungement will be placed on probation for up to 1 year. If the violator fulfills the terms of the probation, then expungement will be granted. In the United States, however, the Department of Justice has the right to keep copies of expunged records. Under the United States constitution, only the District Court can expunge federal criminal records, and expungement laws may vary from state to state.

Juvenile charges for federal crimes can be expunged in Louisiana if there is no adjudication where the judge declared that the minor is guilty of the crime and when a case is dismissed or closed five years before the motion for expungement. Before the erasing process can proceed, the court will have to ensure that the juvenile has no pending case. The first step to expunging a juvenile criminal record is to fill the form for Motion for Expungement and Sealing and then sending it to the appropriate agency in charge of the case. If the agency that filed the costs does not support the expungement, a hearing may follow. The court sends all expungement notices to the district attorney of the parish of conviction, the law enforcement agency which arrested the individual, and the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Information.

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