The United States has two kinds of courts, and depending on your allegedly criminal actions, you could end up defending yourself in either state or federal court. Both these courts have key differences; therefore, it's important you learn what those differences are so that you can better handle your legal proceedings.
Local and state courts fall under the control of a state, such as North Carolina, which manages the activities of all its state, local, city, county and municipal courts. Federal courts, on the other hand, fall under the control of the Constitution and any laws passed by the United States Congress.
The primary differences between state and federal courts relate to "jurisdiction." In other words, state and federal courts will be able to represent certain kinds of cases, and they will not be able to represent other kinds of cases.
State courts have the broadest jurisdiction, so most matters will fall into the state court system. Traffic violations, theft crimes, contractual disagreements and family disputes will usually be tried under the state court system. State courts, on the other hand, will not have jurisdiction over lawsuits brought against the United States government. Also, they do not have jurisdiction over suits related to patent rights, copyrights, bankruptcy and some other categories.
Here are the lawsuits for which the federal court system has jurisdiction:
-- Cases between people from different states, if the amount exceeds $75,000;
-- Cases that involve a violation of federal law or the Constitution;
-- Cases naming the United States as a party; and
-- Patent, copyright, maritime and bankruptcy issues.
Sometimes, the parties can choose between state and federal court because both courts will have jurisdiction. When it comes down to choice, North Carolina residents may want to discuss the pros and cons of both options with a qualified criminal law attorney, such as an attorney found at the Roberts Law Group, who handles both federal crimes and state-level crimes.