The United States has numerous court systems. Depending on the crime and jurisdictions one may find themselves in a state, local or federal court. State and local courts can include municipalities, counties, parishes and city courts — and they all adhere to state laws.
The federal court system, however, is established under the U.S. Constitution. Only certain types of cases come under the jurisdiction of the federal courts. These cases could be crimes committed on federal property, bankruptcies, violations against the Constitution and federal laws, crimes that affect national security and cases involving multiple states or crimes that crossed state lines.
The federal court system is broken down into 5 types of courts
In order to make the federal court system accessible throughout the United States, Congress has established 5 different types of federal courts that serve different purposes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
- U.S. District Court: Congress divided the United States into 94 federal judicial districts. Each of these 94 districts has its own U.S. district court.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court: Each district has its own bankruptcy court which administers federal bankruptcy laws.
- Court of Appeals: Congress has also divided the 94 district courts into 12 regional circuits. Each of these 12 circuits has a court of appeals. If a federal case is lost then, one might find themselves in one of the 12 regional courts of appeal.
- Federal Circuit: In addition to the district circuit, there is also a federal circuit. The court of appeals for the federal circuit is based in Washington D.C.
- The Supreme Court of the United States: This court is also located in Washington D.C. This is the highest federal court in the country. If a case is lost in a court of appeals, a petition can be made to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. One difference between the court of appeals and the Supreme Court is, the Supreme Court is not obligated to hear the case.
When you’re being charged with a crime that is under federal jurisdiction, it pays to know as much as you can about the rules and procedures of the court involved. Learn everything you can about the charges and your defense options.