Key Differences Between State and Federal Courts in Criminal Defense Cases

Dallas federal criminal defense firm Broden & Mickelsen, LLP outlines four major differences between Texas state and federal courts.

Thousands of people are charged with criminal offenses and processed through court systems throughout the U.S. each year. For those seeking a caring criminal defense attorney for their case, one thing that is critical to obtaining the best legal defense is knowing that there are stark differences between how state and federal courts operate. According to the Dallas based criminal defense attorneys of Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, identifying whether one’s charge is for state or federal court when a client initially calls a criminal defense firm for assistance should be important to any criminal lawyer for four key reasons:

  1. First time offenders are subjected to harsher punishments in federal court – Says the firm “Often, the results for the defendants charged in state court are dramatically different than the results for the defendants charged in federal court. Indeed, it is not unusual for a defendant charged with a drug offense or child pornography offense in state court in Dallas County to be placed on probation and a defendant charged with the same or similar offense in federal court to be sentenced to ten years or more in prison.”
  2. The reason for the difference is that federal court sentencing is done under a different set of guidelines which scores offenses and criminal history based on a grid system.
  3. There are limited options in federal court for dismissing or winning a trial – The firm says that in counties in the state of Texas for example “a defendant charged in state court can make a presentation to the grand jury in an attempt to convince the grand jury not to indict them in the first place. Such presentations cannot be made to federal grand juries and it is rare that a federal grand jury will refuse a prosecutor’s request to return an indictment.”
  4. There are less options in federal court than in state court for individuals who have been convicted – According to the firm “…suppose a defendant receives a ten-year sentence in state court and a different defendant receives a ten-year sentence in federal court. The defendant in state court might be paroled after serving only a couple of years of his sentence. On the other hand, parole has been abolished in the federal system and defendants serve 85% of their sentences.”
  5. There are fewer defense attorneys who have experience with cases involving federal crimes – On the final issue the firm asserts, “Because the federal system much more complicated, only a small percentage of criminal lawyers can effectively represent a defendant in federal court. Indeed…a defendant charged with a crime in federal court must carefully question his lawyer regarding the lawyer’s experience in federal court and ask the lawyer to give them a printout from the PACER system showing the number of defendants the lawyer has represented in federal court.”

About Broden & Mickelsen, LLP

The Dallas based criminal lawyers of Broden & Mickelsen, LLP is available to assist individuals who have been accused of a federal crime or Texas state crime, and are in need of legal representation.

For more information about getting legal help for a specific state or federal criminal case contact the law firm directly by calling 214-720-9552, or visiting our website.

Follow Broden & Mickelsen, LLP on social media #dallasfederalcriminaldefenselawyers.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.