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How State and Federal Criminal Cases Differ

Okabe & Haushalter Aug 19, 2021 White Collar Crimes

The American legal system can seem complicated. Federal and state courts are set up in different ways to serve specific legal needs. Clarifying the differences between how state and federal courts handle cases can help unravel confusion when someone is facing federal, or state charges and the process laid out in front of them.

If you or someone you know is under investigation or has been arrested for a white-collar crime, your freedom and reputation are at risk. The success of your case relies on selecting the right legal representation. The Los Angeles white collar crime attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter have the experience to secure your future.

The difference between federal and state court systems

Federal courts and state courts are different in many ways. The courts are constructed differently. In federal courts, the President of the United States selects the judges, and they must be confirmed by the senate.

Federal judges have the option of keeping this position for the rest of their life, but these lofty positions are accompanied by high standards. A federal judge can be impeached by the senate for misconduct.

Federal courts are designed to be streamlined. The courts handle smaller caseloads than state courts to enable cases to move through the system with more assurance of resolution.

In-state courts, a trial date can be changed or continued. Federal court dates are more set-in-stone, rarely continued. State courts may hear multiple cases in a day. In Federal courts, it is common to only focus on one case on a given day.

Federal prosecutors are vetted more vigorously than state prosecutors. Federal prosecutors have more time to be prepared for trial because they have less cases than state prosecutors. This does not mean state prosecutors are less skilled. It simply means federal prosecutors have the convenience of more time.

Often, the types of cases heard in federal and state courts can intersect. Sometimes, white collar cases like fraud can move from a state court to a federal court. Prosecutors typically use their discretion in deciding where charges are brought. The defense does not have this luxury.

Whether or not federal prosecutors decide to ask the state court to dismiss charges so they can bring federal charges relies on:

  • Who is investigating – local police, DEA, FBI?
  • Where was the case initially brought after investigation – U.S. Attorney’s Office or state prosecutors
  • Size of the case – interest in a particular defendant, corporation, or government official

When should I contact a lawyer?

There is a broad range of nonviolent crimes which fall under the category of white-collar crime. This list includes:

  • Antitrust violations
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Bribery
  • Computer and internet fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit card fraud
  • Economic espionage and trade secret theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Environmental law violations
  • Financial institution fraud
  • Government fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Insider trading
  • Insurance fraud
  • Intellectual property theft/piracy
  • Kickbacks
  • Mail fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Phone and telemarketing fraud
  • Public corruption
  • Securities fraud
  • Tax evasion

For six consecutive years (from 2005to 2010), the Los Angeles white-collar crime attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter were named Los Angeles Magazine Super Lawyers. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation of your case today by clicking here or calling 310-430-7799 when you need help.