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Where are cases involving federal crimes handled?

California residents who have been accused of committing crimes that warrant federal charges may find themselves in difficult legal positions. Federal crimes are not treated the same as state crimes. This type of crime is handled in a different kind of court and has its own set of rules.

The truth is that the majority of common criminal cases will be heard in a state court. However, if an alleged crime meets the standard of a federal case, the case will then proceed to this higher court. Criminal cases heard in federal court might include:

  • Those that involve people in multiple states
  • Those that specifically violate federal laws
  • Interstate issues involving significant sums of money

More detailed examples of these include the running of scams using the mail service, committing illegal activities on federal land and a variety of drug crimes -- among numerous others. If a criminal case results in a federal charge, that case must be heard in a federal court. If a conviction is achieved by prosecuting attorneys, the potential penalties one may face at a federal level may seem particularly harsh, especially when compared to those generally seen at the state court level.

Even having a basic understanding of the difference between federal and California courts can prove helpful when an accused individual is deciding how to proceed. Those who are facing accusations of committing criminal federal crimes would only help themselves by securing representation that has experience in the federal court arena. An attorney with this type of knowledge will have a unique insight as to how certain charges may be treated and what defense options may prove most helpful in achieving an outcome that is best for the client.

Source:, "What the Federal Courts Do: How is a federal court different from a state court?", Accessed on July 27, 2015

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results