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What is the difference between state and federal criminal charges?

Like many people, you may be under the impression that criminal offenses tried in federal courts are more serious than those tried in state and municipal courts. To some extent, this is true. But the primary difference between state and federal crimes can have more to do with jurisdiction than severity in many cases.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you should know what you’re up against. You may benefit from having a basic understanding of the types and nature of offenses tried in federal court.

The Federal Judicial Center explains that state courts implement and enforce state and municipal laws, while federal courts uphold Congress-enacted policies and constitutional guidelines. Therefore, cases tried at the federal level deal with a limited number of issues.

Unlike state courts, which have jurisdiction over a broader range of offenses, federal courts typically hear matters dealing with violation of the U.S. Constitution, violation of federal law, cross-state disputes and copyright and bankruptcy proceedings.

There are instances, however, when your case may fall under the jurisdiction of either or both state and federal courts. The specific nature and severity of your alleged offense would be used to help determine which court your case should be tried in. For instance, a robbery-related offense would not typically warrant a federal trial. It is also worth noting that your case could be tried on both the state and federal level under particular circumstances.

Because the federal government has vast resources, the conviction rate for federal criminal charges is much higher than for those tried in state courts. If you facing criminal charges – especially ones that could fall under both state and federal jurisdiction, you should seek the help of a criminal defense attorney with experience handling cases at all levels.

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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