There are 51 different court systems in the United States of America. Each state has their own court system, and there is also a federal court system as well.

Understanding if it is the state or the federal government charging you with a crime is important for your case. According to FindLaw, most of the time cases involving private citizens happen in state courts.

Why are individuals more often tried in state court?

Jurisdiction is what defines which court system will try a case. The word “jurisdiction” in this instance means what sorts of cases a court is authorized to hear. For instance, if the crime took place in Mississippi, the New York court system does not have jurisdiction.

When comparing the jurisdiction of state against federal courts, the state courts’ jurisdiction is much broader. For example, if the crime is a robbery, it is likely that state or local police arrested the perpetrator and thus the trial will happen in state courts. Most laws involving robberies are state-based, not federal-based.

There are exceptions. For instance, the federal courts will take a case where a robbery occurred on federal property.

What if the case could happen in either federal or state court?

In the instance that either the federal or state court could try a crime, this decision is ultimately up to the prosecutors. Defense attorneys have no ability to sway this decision. Again, state courts try most crimes, so it is most common that prosecutors will choose to take this path. However, make sure to follow up with your defense attorney to learn where your trial will take place.