Posted on 7/1/19

When you are charged with a crime, there are many factors and concerns that will be running through your mind. Am I facing jail time? How do I defend myself? When will this be over? However, the most important consideration is where and by whom you will be tried. Whether your crime is tried in a Texas state court or a federal court can make adramatic difference in your case and future.

Determining Jurisdiction

Crimes are classified based primarily on their location and the scope of their impact. A crime with victims in multiple states will fall under federal jurisdiction, as will a crime occurring on federal lands, such as national parks, military sites, federal prisons, or national wildlife reserves. Certain charges, such as those involving copyright, patent, antitrust, and maritime issues can also be federal crimes. Finally, any charges involving federal parties or agencies will be tried in federal court.

If you find yourself in a rare situation in which both state and federal charges could be filed, your case will be more complex. Authorities may decide where to try your case. However, if you are tried and acquitted in a state court, you can still be charged for the same crime in a federal court. Because state and federal authorities are different entities, double jeopardy does not apply.


One of the most serious differences between state and federal crimes can be the sentencing. Generally speaking, crimes charged in federal court carry more severe penalties than state crimes. In part, this is due to the fact that crimes taken up by federal courts often involve a greater number of victims in multiple states, a higher monetary value to the crimes, or crimes against federal agencies. Additionally,federal sentencing guidelines must be used by federal judges, and these guidelines are generally harsher than state penalties for similar crimes.

Trial Timing

According to theTexas Constitution, you have the right to a speedy public trial. The factors used to determine whether or not the trial is speedy include:

  • How long the defendant has to wait between arrest and trial

  • The reasons for any delays

  • Whether or not the defendant asserted the right to a speedy trial

  • How any delay might hurt the defendant’s case

The definition of a speedy trial is clearly up for interpretation on a case by case basis. However, you are more likely to receive a speedy trial in a federal court, since the federal courts hear fewer cases. Unlike the Texas guarantee to a speedy trial, federal courts must follow more specificlaws regarding the time frame for a speedy trial. Although there are some exceptions which allow for delays in the trial, the indictment must generally be filed within 30 days of your arrest and the trial must begin within 70 days of the indictment.

Contact an Attorney

If you are facing any form of criminal charges, contact the experienced attorneys atAbel Law Firm. We will help to determine which jurisdiction you will be tried in and prepare the appropriate defense.

Flower Mound Office

Phone: 972.584.7837

Denton Office