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Federal and state laws often overlap, but although the offenses they define may be similar, the court process and the penalties may not be the same. You may find yourself facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania that send you before a federal judge rather than going through the state’s criminal justice system. At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices, we have extensive experience and a deep knowledge of federal laws and how to defend clients charged with federal offenses.

Here are some facts about the federal court system explained by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jurisdiction

Federal courts only have jurisdiction over cases that have authorization from federal statutes or the U.S. Constitution. So, for example, you may be tried in a federal court if you face charges for breaking intellectual property law, tax law, securities law or some other violation of a law that was passed by the U.S. Congress.

You should note that if you are charged with breaking a federal law that is also a state law, you are not protected by the double jeopardy principle, which states that a person may not be tried for the same offense twice. You may be tried in both state and federal court.

Appeals

If you receive a conviction in a federal district court, you may be able to appeal the decision to a circuit court. In a brief, you would provide your reasons for requesting the appeal of the trial court’s opinion. A panel of judges reviews briefs and listens to oral arguments from attorneys before making the decision to affirm the original decision or reverse it.

You have the right to appeal the circuit court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is rare for the Court to take cases unless they involve an issue that has been decided differently in courts across the country. If there has been an egregious error in your case, you may also become one of the less than 1% of cases that the Court accepts.

More information about the federal courts is available on our webpage.