Residents of Atlanta may have heard that federal trials are speedier than state trials and also that they are prosecuted more aggressively than at the state level. In some cases these perceptions may be true, but not always. Regardless, federal court can be very intimidating for anyone charged with a crime. If you are accused of federal crimes and learn that your trial is taking place in a federal court, you may be wondering why. This is because the federal court has jurisdiction over the case - in other words, a federal court has the authority to hear that specific case.
Federal courts generally only hear cases in which the United States is a party, the case involves a violation of the Constitution or of US federal law, if the case involves bankruptcy, maritime, patent, or copyright issues, or if the amount involved is more than $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states. In addition to this, if drugs are brought across state lines or U.S. mail is used to deceive someone, it is a federal offense. If the crime is committed on federal property, a federal court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
State courts have broad jurisdiction-this means they have authority to hear a variety of cases, from traffic violations to robberies. Most criminal cases therefore end up in state court. It is also possible that both state courts and federal courts have jurisdiction to hear a case. In this case, the parties involved can elect which court to approach.
If you are facing federal charges, you may not know the options available to you, starting from the rights you are constitutionally guaranteed. A federal criminal lawyer familiar with the system may be able to guide you and ensure your rights are protected from beginning to end of your court case.