Jurisdictional rules can make a charge a federal crime
New Orleans residents who watch legal dramas or who read crime novels may be familiar with the concept of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction gives certain courts or law enforcement agencies the right to pursue particular kinds of criminal and legal cases. For example, there are some crimes that are only heard under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana state courts. There are others, however, that are only heard under the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
State and federal courts have jurisdiction over different legal matters, and this post will focus on how a case my fall under the jurisdiction of the federal legal system. A case may be of federal jurisdiction if the law broken is a federal law or if the legal matter at hand arises under the United States Constitution. When the United States of America is a party to a legal action, the matter is generally heard in federal court.
Most criminal laws are written and enforced by the states, and therefore many criminal prosecutions occur in state courts. Some national laws do, though, address federal crime. If federal property is involved in a crime or if one of the relatively few federal criminal laws is broken, the criminal case will be heard in a federal court.
State and federal courts handle legal matters based on their own procedures and rules. Therefore, anyone who is facing a federal crime may seek the assistance of legal professionals who understand the nuances of the federal criminal system. Criminal charges in both the state and federal courts can be intimidating, and individuals facing allegations in either jurisdictional arena can utilize the assistance of their own defense counselors as they prepare for their trials.