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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.

Embezzlement is a complex crime with many nuances

manhattan embezzlement defense attorney

The word “embezzlement” conjures images of a financial planner skimming their client’s retirement account or Little League treasurer looting uniform deposits – all for personal pleasure. But it is far from a black-and-white offense. The components are complex, and the circumstances can be very nuanced.

Embezzlement is a serious white-collar crime that can result in jail time and fines, depending on the value of the property taken. Anyone working in sales, accounting or banking should be wary. Mishandling money can be an easy mistake to make. But it should not brand you an embezzler.

Charging embezzlement does not prove it

According to federal law, embezzlement is financial fraud in which a person entrusted with property or funds converts them into personal use. New York statutes include embezzlement with larceny. They further define property as “computer data and programs, utilities or any article, substance or thing of value … which is provided for a charge or compensation.”

To prove embezzlement, the prosecution generally must establish the following elements:

  • The person controlling the funds had a connection or relationship with its private or government owner.
  • Their entrusted job allowed them to manage accounts, payroll systems, credit cards, petty cash or signatories.
  • They exploited that authority to convert the property for personal use.
  • They acted with intent to withdraw funds or deprive the owner use of their property.

 Authorities can portray the facts a certain way, but their stories may not capture the whole picture. Handshake deals and verbal commitments can be subject to misinterpretation. Sometimes courts dismiss charges because investigators failed to follow procedures when gathering evidence.

Know how to fight

Honest mistakes happen. Maybe you thought you had a right to the property in question or spent funds on something you believed was approved.

Accusations of embezzlement can jeopardize your career and future job prospects beyond the criminal ramifications. It is important to review the facts surrounding your case and know what options you can pursue to protect your freedom and livelihood.