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State and Federal Court Practices

There are two different court systems in the United States: state courts and federal courts. The United States Constitution establishes the federal judicial system and its power and jurisdiction, which is the authority by which courts and judges recognize and decide cases. As the United States Constitution confers authority upon the states to ratify their own constitutions, each state’s constitution establishes its various courts. 

The highest law of the United States is, of course, the US Constitution. The Constitution clears the way for a federal system of government whereby states and the federal government share power. This system creates the need for both federal and state courts. If you have been accused and arrested for a crime, a hearing in one of those court systems is imminent.  But how do you know which one? Can any attorney represent you in federal or state court?

Federal Court System

From the bottom up, federal courts primarily consist of 94 District Courts, 13 Courts of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court. A party dissatisfied with a decision in the District Court may appeal to the Court of Appeals and a party dissatisfied with a decision of the Court of Appeals may appeal to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear that appeal. Federal courts also consist of the U.S. court of claims, U.S. Bankruptcy Court and U.S. Court of International Claims. Parties dissatisfied with decisions in those courts may also appeal to the Court of Appeals and, as a last resort, the United States Supreme Court.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They can only exercise the jurisdiction granted to them by the United States Constitution, federal laws and federal regulations. They are required to have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case and personal jurisdiction over the parties. Subject matter jurisdiction generally involves issues arising under the laws, treaties or Constitution of the United States, ordinarily excluding state law issues. Federal courts also have what is called diversity jurisdiction extending to disputes between citizens of different states with an amount in controversy in excess of $75,000.00.

Federal Court Charges

Cases listed in the US Constitution and established by Congress are the ones that fall into federal court jurisdiction. Federal courts cases most often deal with federal criminal laws. If you have been charged with any of the following crimes you will likely be headed to federal court:

  • Antitrust crimes
  • Bankruptcy
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Drug Manufacturing
  • Civil Rights Violations (Alleging intentional employee discrimination)
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Habeas Corpus (detainment without reasonable cause)
  • Identity Theft
  • Interstate and International fraud
  • Patent Infringement
  • Tax Evasion
  • Weapons Possession (In Addition To Drug Possession)

State Courts

The constitution and statutes of each state establish the state courts. All disputes not falling under the federal courts are heard in the state courts. State courts hear criminal cases involving violations of state statutes, divorce, probate, chancery, accidents contracts and other disputes usually not involving the diversity of citizens. Parties not satisfied with the decision of the lower trial courts may appeal to a higher court, and parties not satisfied with that higher court may appeal to that state’s court of last resort, usually known as a State Supreme Court. Some state court cases are reviewable by the United States Supreme Court, particularly criminal cases.

The fact that a federal court can hear a case does not necessarily operate to divest a state court from hearing that same case. Unless state law mandates otherwise or federal law divest a state court from hearing a case, a state court can have concurrent jurisdiction over a case that could also be heard in a federal court. When concurrent jurisdiction arises, the court where the case is first filed is the court where the case is heard. If the case is filed in a state court though, and a federal court also has jurisdiction, the defendant might petition for removal of the case from state to federal court pursuant to the federal removal statute.

The Qualified Advocacy Of Bassett Law Firm, LLP

Bassett Law Firm has more than 33 years experience providing stalwart defense for clients in both federal and various state court cases. We bring a depth of understanding of the court practices within federal court jurisdiction vs. state jurisdiction courts. In addition, our representation includes understanding the different nuances in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma state courts. Bassett Law Firm LLP works diligently to represent our clients’ best interests in pursuit of the most positive outcome for the future. The central focus of our firm is to provide clients with quality legal representation concomitantly guarding our reputation for providing cost-effective methods of representation.

For the defense advocacy of Bassett Law Firm LLP, contact us online anytime or take a moment to call (479) 521-9996 today.