Criminal defendants who are accused of violations in criminal court may have a lot of questions about their looming legal process. Cases that are heard in federal court tend to be very different from those that are handled by state-level judicial bodies. As a result, they may require a different legal approach for criminal defense.
Federal prosecution can occur when a North Carolina defendant has violated any of a set of federal laws. For example, a federal court could have jurisdiction over those who are accused of drug trafficking -- bringing illegal substances across state lines or into the country. Further, federal prosecution may occur when a defendant is accused of attempting to manipulate a federal agency such as the U.S. Postal Service. Mail fraud is just one of many federal crimes that relate to financial violations.
State courts, conversely, tend to deal with violations that are more commonplace. Think about those who are accused of robbery, traffic violations and even domestic violence; in most cases, those proceedings are handled by state courts. In most instances, state laws are applicable to the violation in question. It is the state law, for example, that makes robbery a crime -- the federal government has not issued this type of law.
Criminal defendants who are accused of violating interstate commerce laws and other federal mandates may find themselves in federal court. This court system has different requirements and processes than the state courts, so it is critical to use an appropriate approach for federal criminal defense. Penalties may also be far more severe for federal crimes than for their state counterparts. The high-stakes nature of federal prosecution warrants a meticulous and assertive legal presentation from the defense team.
Source: Federal Judicial Center, "What the Federal Courts Do" Sep. 16, 2014