The Maher Law Group, APC: Your Fairfield Criminal Defense Attorney
Most criminal prosecutions are undertaken at the state level, for violations of state law and carried out in state court. However, just as their are comprehensive state laws enforcing behavior, there are also federal criminal laws which have been approved by Congress. In general, federal criminal laws are related to a federal or national issue such as the flow of goods or services across state lines, federal tax fraud or other offenses committed near federal property. Many crimes, however, may be prosecuted at either the federal or state level depending on the decisions of law enforcement and the prosecutors.
Congress is only able to pass federal laws which involve a national interest. Broadly some criteria which may be used to determine a federal jurisdiction in a criminal case entail:
- Any criminal action taking place on federal land or involving federal law enforcement officers, employees or personnel. Examples could be a murder taking place on a federally protected tract of land, the robbery of a U.S. Post Office or kidnapping and fleeing to a Native American Reservation
- Any criminal action involving the accused individual crossing interstate lines. An example could be a robbery suspect fleeing from Vermont to South Carolina.
- Any criminal action involving action undertaken in multiple states. An example could be an internet based fraud which victimized people in multiple states.
- Immigrations and customs-related crimes. Examples of these could include human trafficking or transit of illegal goods such as narcotics across federal borders.
State courts are presided over by state court judges who are appointed by state governors and face reelection. Federal judges are appointed directly by the President of the United States and serve for life. Federal crimes are prosecuted by U.S. State’s Attorneys and are assisted by federal agents such as ATF or CIA Agents. State crimes are assisted by state and county sheriffs and local law enforcement officers; they are prosecuted by state district attorneys. In most cases, federal court proceedings move at a much slower pace than state cases.
The Maher Law Group, APC: Your State and Federal Legal Experts
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