How Cases Get To Federal Court from Edwardsville IL
Many Americans have a limited understanding of the federal court system. Beyond the expression “making a federal case out of it,” the general impression is that federal courts are for the biggest and most important cases. This isn’t entirely true, though if you have been served with paperwork for a federal case you can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. There are actually several advantages to having your case heard in federal court. No matter what kind of case you’re dealing with, or whether you’re filing or responding to it, it is always best to talk to an experienced federal attorney before you appear in federal court.
State Versus Federal Court
There are two basic types of court in the United States, state and federal. Your state and local courts interpret state laws and hear the majority of cases in your area. Most of the laws people live under are state or local laws, and the courts in your jurisdiction are usually the first venue for most types of cases.
Some types of cases can only be heard by the federal bench. These are usually interstate crimes, large interstate lawsuits and some matters dealing with federal law, such as copyright claims. At the bottom of the federal system are the 94 district courts. The judges who sit on these benches serve 8-year terms. They often hold hearings for bail, search warrants and other matters relating to federal criminal cases.
Above the district courts are the 12 circuit courts. The judges on these courts mostly hear appeals from the district court cases, and they sometimes rule on constitutional questions where the Supreme Court has not laid down a definitive ruling yet. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, and its decisions are final. Any kind of court case can, in theory, be appealed to the Supreme Court, but the vast majority of cases are resolved well before getting to that stage.
Types of Federal Cases
It is rare for federal courts to get involved with petty crimes or strictly local cases, though these are sometimes appealed to the federal bench. One type of case that often gets into federal courts is interstate crimes. When someone is accused of trafficking drugs across state lines, immigration violations or other matters the federal government has outlawed, it’s common for the criminal case to be heard in federal court. Many gun-related offenses are heard in federal courts, as are nearly all tax-related cases. Many cases of white collar crime, such as fraud, embezzlement and money laundering, are also heard as federal cases.
Civil cases can also wind up in front of the federal bench. One reason this may happen is diversity, which is the term for when one party is suing another across state lines. The federal system has the option to handle these cases when the amount involved is more than $75,000. Federal courts also hear cases that could have an impact on the United States’ standing with foreign countries, such as when a foreign diplomat is involved or a U.S. citizen is suing a person overseas. Federal courts are also the appropriate venue for lawsuits people can file against the government, or for cases that relate to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or other federal laws.
Why Choose a Federal Court?
Even if you have the option of filing in your state court, it might be a good idea to file on the federal level. Federal courts operate somewhat differently from state courts, and the differences can work to your advantage. If you are the defendant in a civil action, for instance, a federal court may be more willing to dismiss the case before arguments are heard, based just on the lawyers’ pretrial filings. The process of discovery is also more regulated than in state courts, so there are fewer surprises.
The Importance of Finding a Federal Attorney in Edwardsville, IL
Your case can come before federal court in three ways. You can be charged with a federal crime, you can sue or be sued in federal court, or you can request a notice of removal, which moves a state-level case to the federal system. Once you have requested removal, the federal court reviews your application and decides whether your case meets the criteria for being heard on that level.
No matter how your case gets to federal court, or if you haven’t removed your case to the federal system yet, you need a federal attorney to help you navigate the system. Federal cases can be significantly more complex than state cases, and finding a lawyer who has been admitted to the federal bar can make all the difference in protecting your rights and getting justice in federal cases. If you have a case that’s headed for a federal courtroom, contact the Law Office of Robert Elovitz for advice and a consultation about your options. Call us today at (618) 692-4800 to talk over your civil or criminal federal case.