A large majority of people who are charged with crimes face state criminal charges. While state charges are serious, they pale in comparison to what a person faces at the federal level if they are charged with a crime. An experienced federal criminal attorney will mount a very different defense for federal crimes vs. state crimes.
There are many differences a defendant needs to be aware of at the federal level.
Federal prosecutors are known as Assistant United States Attorneys. In general, they have more resources and handle fewer cases than a prosecutor at the state level. They get involved earlier in a case than at the state level and will spend a lot more time framing a prosecution.
Federal felony crimes are heard by two different kinds of judges. United States Magistrate judges will be the first judge a defendant will appear in front of after they are charged. A United States District judge is appointed by the President and serves the court system for life, meaning their credentials are among the best in the U.S. justice system.
Jurors in federal cases come from a much more diverse pool than with state courts. In a state court, jurors will generally come from the same county as the court. In federal cases, jurors will come from the same judicial district, which can encompass a large number of counties.
Sentencing at a federal level is based on federal sentencing guidelines as well as a variety of laws that govern how a sentence will be imposed. There is less leeway in a federal court than with a state court when it comes to sentencing.
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