Getting arrested for a criminal offense—especially if it is your first time—can be a scary and perplexing situation. Many people who experience this type of situation often wonder if their case will be heard in federal or state court. Most first-time offenders are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system and don’t understand which court will prosecute their criminal cases.
Your criminal case will be held in federal court if the following are true:
- Federal authorities made the arrest – If you were arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or another federal agency, your case will most likely be heard in federal court. Since federal authorities are a higher rank above state or local police departments, they generally have more personnel and resources at their disposal.
- The alleged crime crossed state lines – When a criminal offense involves more than one state, federal prosecutors will handle the case. Common examples include transporting drugs from one state to another, stealing a person’s identity in another state through the internet, or committing homicide where one victim is in one state and the other is in another.
- The alleged crime occurred on federal property – When a criminal offense is committed on federal grounds, federal authorities will oversee the investigation. Common examples include robbing a federally-insured bank or possessing drugs in a federal park.
- The alleged crime is serious in nature – The more serious the criminal offense, the more likely federal courts will take the case. For instance, a complex money laundering case involving large sums of cash is more likely to be investigated by federal authorities.
- State and federal authorities decide – Federal and state authorities may deliberate which system should preside over a criminal case. On the other hand, sometimes state police departments hand over a case to federal prosecutors.
If you have been arrested for a federal crime, the penalties you face are harsher compared to a conviction from the state court. It is in your best interest to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we can protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. With more than four decades of combined legal experience, our Miami federal crime attorneys understand what it takes to obtain the best outcome possible.
For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.