If you've recently found out that you're facing federal criminal charges, then you may feel completely lost. It can be helpful for you to learn more about the differences between the state and federal legal systems, their respective players and what to expect as your case moves toward trial.
State and federal cases are prosecuted by different individuals. District attorneys or prosecutors generally file state cases. United States attorneys are responsible for filing federal cases.
Each jurisdiction has its own terminology that they use to refer to judges that preside over criminal matters. Each state refers to trial judges differently. Federal cases are heard by district court judges. The latter presides over most cases filed by the U.S. government and are generally called upon to decide cases. Federal magistrates, however, often hear preliminary matters including pre-trial motions.
State prosecutors can charge a defendant with a crime without having to first present evidence in front of a grand jury. U.S. attorneys are always required to use these to decide whether a suspect should be charged with a federal offense. The only exception to this rule is if a defendant waives their right to it.
It's important that you know that individuals are required to abide by both state and federal laws. What's defined as a crime in one jurisdiction may not be a crime in the other.
Minnesota legislators are responsible for defining what a crime here in this state. They also set the punishments as well. Federal lawmakers are responsible for drafting laws and punishments for violating them. The penalties associated with a state conviction may not be aligned with federal sentencing guidelines.
It's important to keep in mind that individuals can be prosecuted by both state and federal officials for crimes that they commit.
If you're facing federal charges, then you may feel daunted to say the very least. You may think of all of the resources U.S. government officials have at their disposal and think that you'll never win going up against them. There's some validity to this. There is hope, though, too.
A federal defense attorney who has a proven track record of success can advise you of legal strategies that can be pursued even when the stakes are high. When you're facing federal charges, don't just consult with anyone. Trust your case to a Minneapolis attorney who is both experienced and intent on getting results.