Federal Criminal Law vs. State Criminal Law

Federal criminal law. This is a somewhat elusive term, but one that is important to understand. What is federal criminal law and how does it differ from state and local criminal laws? Put simply, federal criminal codes are laws detailed in United States Code. These differ from civil law, and outline crimes against the federal government of the U.S. Each state in the country has a body of criminal codes that closely reflects federal codes.

Sometimes, state codes differ from federal codes. The major difference between a federal criminal case and a state or local criminal case is that federal criminal cases are dealt with in federal court, and involve investigations from federal investigation agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

A case could be handled in federal criminal court if the alleged criminal activity took place on U.S. federal property or an Indian reservation. Cases held in criminal court could also be those that involve crimes against Title 18 of the U.S.C, Title 26 of the U.S.C. or other criminal bodies of law in the United States Code. When a criminal offense crosses state lines (i.e. drug trafficking) or involves a federal agency or organization such as an offense against the IRS (i.e. tax evasion), the criminal case will likely be dealt with in federal criminal court. Overall, a majority of the criminal cases handled in the United States are handled in state and local courts, rather than federal courts.

Federal cases are prosecuted based on guidelines that are established by the U.S. Attorney in that particular jurisdiction. The U.S. Attorney is the federal prosecutor. This individual is representing the federal government in a U.S. district court. There are various U.S. district courts in the state of California, such as the Central District of California, Southern District of California, Northern District of California and Eastern District of California.

State cases are prosecuted by those who work for the office of the District Attorney (DA). These individuals represent the state government and handle cases in criminal courts within the jurisdiction of California. The Los Angeles Superior Court- Criminal Division handles cases in which the state of California has filed charges against individuals alleged of committing criminal offenses. Those criminal offenses can be infractions, misdemeanors or felonies. There are various courthouses in Los Angeles County.

If you would like to learn more about federal criminal law and how it differs from state criminal law, please feel free to contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Martinian & Associates Inc. Our firm has years of experience handling both state and federal criminal cases, and can assist you if you or someone you love has been arrested for an alleged criminal offense.

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