Criminal charges are filed in different jurisdictions depending on the location or locations the alleged crime occurred in and the nature of the crime.
Jurisdiction, generally, means the power of a court to oversee a case. A person who commits a crime in California will generally be charged in the State of California, whether it be a city, municipal, superior, or otherwise state court. A court cannot properly hear a case without the parties first demonstrating that jurisdiction is proper in that particular court system.
Though there are certain tribunals that are specific to certain crimes (consider military courts, immigration courts, etc.), courts are generally either state-level courts or federal-level courts. If you have a case pending in either court, speak with a criminal defense attorney today who can help you. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.
What Makes a Case State or Federal?
A case will typically be charged at the federal level if the claim(s):
- Involve alleged action in more than one state (intra-state transactions, such as drug trafficking are typically charged at the federal level)
- Allege a violation of the US Constitution or Amendments
- Involve foreign affairs
- Involve suing the United States
- Involve bankruptcy proceedings
- Involve monetary civil disputes in excess of $75,000.00
- Involve Copyright, Patent or Trademark violations
The rationale behind this is that state courts have discretion to delineate responsibility for general legal matters and usually divide their court systems accordingly (i.e. state courts generally have at least civil, criminal, and domestic divisions) according to their state constitutions.
States each also have their own laws that may differ from federal law. Federal law also has its own statutes and when a violation occurs, the alleged wrongdoer may be tried through the federal court system.
Why Does it Matter Where My Criminal Case is Filed?
Federally charged crimes are generally more serious than state-level crimes for both civil and criminal offenses. Though what society considers serious crimes such as rape and murder are generally tried at the state level, complex matters may certainly be tried in the federal court system.
The punishments associated with the violation of federal crimes are typically more serious than those charged in state courts, as well. The federal courts also have significantly more resources available to aid prosecutors than they do at the state level and can increase the prosecutor’s chance at success. The rules regarding indictment of an offender, sentencing, and court procedures generally differ between state and federal courts, as well.
Most attorneys practice specifically at the state level, given the complexity and time involved in taking on a federal case. Being charged with a federal crime requires consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney that is familiar with the unique procedures and requirements demanded by federal courts.
Have You Been Charged with a Federal Crime?
If you or anyone you know has been accused of committing a federal crime, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable federal crimes defense lawyer right away.
Your legal rights do not change because you are being tried in a different court system—the police, prosecutors and other officials still have obligations to an offender that can lead to a dismissal or leniency of charges if not followed exactly. To learn more about how to protect yourself against federal criminal charges, contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today at (619) 525-7005.