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Varghese & Accociates, P.C.

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Critical differences between state and federal courts

While being charged with a crime is stressful at any time, charges on the federal level are particularly daunting. It is essential for those accused of a crime to be familiar with the differences between state and federal courts.

State and federal judge appointments involve different processes.

Judges presiding over state courts are selected using a variety of different methods depending on the state. An election system determines who is selected to be a New York state judge. In trial courts, a single judge generally hears the case.

The president nominates federal judges, who are then confirmed by the senate. Typically, these are lifetime appointments unless the senate removes them due to misbehavior.

What court has jurisdiction?

One of the key differences between state and federal courts is that each court has jurisdiction over specific cases. State courts generally hear cases about state laws, including most criminal cases.

Federal laws, on the other hand, have jurisdiction over:

  • Cases involving violations of federal law or the constitution
  • Bankruptcy cases
  • Copyright and patent law
  • Cases which include the United States government as a party
  • Disputes between two states
  • Situations that affect citizens of two different states and higher amounts of money or assets

The details of some cases determine which court has jurisdiction. For example, state courts generally handle charges of theft. However, federal courts may hear the case if charges involve fraud using the United States Postal Service.

Because of these differences, people facing federal charges should have an attorney by their side who knows the federal system. The right attorney assist in navigating the challenges of the federal court and protecting their rights and freedoms.

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