It can be difficult to understand the differences between federal and state courts. Often, you hear on the news that a case has been filed in federal court or that a federal court has overruled a state court. Understanding the differences is important should you ever face a court case, especially if the case is criminal. Learn more about the differences between the two from a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer.
The first thing to understand regarding federal and state court is that each has their own jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear a case. Both federal and state laws determine the power of courts at both the federal and state level. If a court does not have jurisdiction, it does not have the legal authority to pass judgment on a case. If a case is filed in the wrong court, the plaintiff must file the case again in the correct court, even if that court is some distance away.
Federal Court Jurisdiction
Federal courts have jurisdiction over any case that pertains to federal law. If you are filing a suit for a violation of your civil rights, for example, the case would be filed in federal court. Patent infringements are another example of cases that would be filed in federal court. Cases that pertain to the Americans with Disabilities Act or antitrust lawsuits are also handled in federal court. If your case involves someone who resides or does business in another state and there is more than $75,000 at stake, federal jurisdiction applies. For example, you live in New York but visit Las Vegas on vacation. While there, you are severely injured by a Las Vegas resident and your medical bills are over $100,000. In order to recover those damages, you would file your case in federal court rather than Nevada or New York.
Nevada State Court Jurisdiction
Nevada courts are separated into four different areas. Municipal courts manage minor crimes like traffic violations or misdemeanor ordinances that occur within municipalities. Justice courts preside over misdemeanor crime and traffic matters that are more serious than those handled by municipal courts. They also handle small claims, evictions and other cases that are less than $10,000. Justice courts handle preliminary hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to hold a criminal as well as felony and gross misdemeanor arraignments. District courts in Nevada have jurisdiction over all legal matters. Criminal, civil, family and juvenile matters are handled through arbitration, mediation, bench or jury trials. Judges in district court also hear appeals from municipal and justice courts. The Nevada Supreme Court reviews and rules on appeals from district court cases while the Nevada Court of Appeals hears about one-third of the cases submitted to the Nevada Supreme Court.
If you have a case that needs to be filed in either state or federal court, or if you have been charged in one of these courts, contact Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer Brian J. Smith. You can reach our office by calling 702-380-8248 or visit us online.