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    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

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    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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State vs. Federal Criminal Procedure

Posted in Criminal Defense on March 20, 2020

In the United States, there are many different systems of crime and punishment. Every state in the union has its own court system structure used to prosecute those accused of committing state crimes. However, there is only one federal system used for those accused of committing federal crimes. It is important to understand both of these systems and how they could affect your case.

State vs. Feferal criminal procedure

State Criminal Procedure

The majority of criminal prosecutions take place in the state court systems because most crimes that are allegedly committed are violations of state criminal codes. Under state court procedures, the police make an arrest and investigate the alleged criminal violation. Police officers write up reports describing the crime and the evidence and submit it to a prosecutor for evaluation. There are varying levels of prosecutors in the state system (city, county, and state).

The prosecutor will generally make decisions about which charges they wish to file based on the evidence they have been presented with. After charges have been filed, the defendant’s attorney will have a chance to receive copies of investigative reports and all evidence pertaining to the case. This is called the “discovery period.”

If a defendant pleads not guilty, a case will generally proceed to trial. In California, just like every state in the union, defendants have a right to trial by jury. However, many cases do not go all the way to trial. A prosecutor may offer the defendant a plea deal, in which they agree to plead guilty to the charge (often a lesser charge) because going to court could result in more time than is being offered in the plea deal.

Federal Criminal Procedure

There are far fewer classes of federal crimes, and the federal criminal system generally only handles cases in which they are some federal or national issue involved. This can include interstate trafficking, mail fraud, crimes committed on federal property, federal tax fraud, and more. There are various criminal acts there are crimes under both state and federal law, such as bank robberies, that can be prosecuted in either court system.

Federal crimes are investigated by federal officers, such as the FBI, DEA, or other federal investigative studies. Federal crimes are prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys, and federal trials take place in the US District Courts. Federal judges have magistrates that assist them in various phases of cases. A magistrate is a judge it has limited powers who works under the supervision of the federal judge.

The big difference between state and federal courts is that the federal court system is governed by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and is uniform across the entire country. This governs the rules and timetables for motions, hearings, and trials.

In the federal court system, as in the state systems, defendants have a right to a defense attorney, and their attorney will receive all of the evidence and investigative reports during the discovery phase. Defendants in the federal court system also regularly accept plea deals before a trial occurs.

Contact the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath

If you or somebody you love has been charged with a crime, seek legal assistance from a skilled Riverside criminal defense lawyer immediately. At the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC, we have extensive experience defending clients in both state and federal court. Our team understands the ins and outs of each system, and we will work to build a solid defense for your case. Our goal is to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. Let our California criminal defense attorneys get to work on your behalf today. You can contact us for a free consultation on your case by clicking here or by calling as soon as possible.