If you are charged with a crime or traffic offense you may be arrested by State authorities or you may be charged in the Federal system. The system you have been charged in makes a great deal of difference to your case. Some attorneys and law firms are comfortable working in one or the other of the two systems, but not all are equally as comfortable working with both. The rules that govern each court system are different, as well as the laws themselves and the penalties each imposes. In addition each works on a completely different schedule and provides for procedures that are unique to each Court.
The Federal Courts generally have jurisdiction over any federal statute such as bank robbery or interstate crimes. They also have control of all crimes and traffic violations committed on any federal property such as military bases and other federal installations. As a general rule the penalties for violations of federal law are more severe, including; higher fines, harsher jail sentences, increased probationary requirements and other consequences.
The procedures used to prosecute federal cases move at a faster pace. Usually, your first appearance in Federal Court happens within a few days of an arrest. Decisions about your situation must be addressed quickly and require an attorney who has experience in that system. Most cases in Federal Court are resolved within three to six months from the time of arrest.
In serious cases, bond is difficult to obtain and many people are held in jail without bond. In addition, the federal system uses a set of sentencing guidelines to help determine what sentence you will receive if convicted and these guidelines require a great deal of skill to compute. It is essential that your lawyer have experience with dealing with the federal guidelines in order to give you a better understanding of what consequences you may be faced with if convicted and allow you to make informed decisions about the conduct of your case.
The Federal Courts also require that almost all paperwork regarding your case to be filed through a fairly new system of electronic filing. Not all lawyers are qualified in using the electronic filing system. The Federal Courts require lawyers to be specially certified in electronic filing to practice in their courts.
The State Courts are somewhat more forgiving, and move at a slower pace. Often even minor cases can take four to six months to be resolved. This gives both you and your attorney a greater opportunity to discuss the case and determine what the best course of action may be for your particular circumstances. More serious cases take even longer, and it is not unusual for a felony to require a year or more to resolve.
The State Courts also have a sentencing guidelines procedure that assists in determining what potential sentence you may receive if convicted but this system is much less complicated than the one used by the Federal Courts. The State system is also a voluntary system that judges use as a guide but not as a requirement when determining sentences.
State cases usually do not resist an accused being placed on bond except in serious violent cases, and even in those circumstances they are more likely to grant bond than the Federal Courts. If convicted in State Court, sentences are usually not as severe as a similar offense would be treated in the Federal Courts.
Both court systems have different rules of evidence and procedures. It is important that your lawyer be comfortable working in the system where you are charged so that you may take advantage of any opportunity available to you in the defense of your case. At The Law Office of Michael S. Davis, we are admitted to both the State and Federal Courts, and have a great deal of experience working in both systems, so that you may receive the best legal representation available and have the best possible outcome for your individual situation.
Contact the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.