Has it been awhile since your last civics class? You’re not alone—many citizens have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the complexities of the court system. However, if you’ve been charged with a crime, two of the most important things you need to know are “where” and “who.” The following is an overview of the courts of the USA, including here in Lubbock, TX.
State vs. federal courts
The first major division is between state and federal courts. Federal courts were established by the United States Constitution as part of the judicial branch of government. State courts, on the other hand, are established under state constitutions and laws.
Both types of courts of the USA handle different subject matter. For example, if a person violates federal law, it’s considered “a federal question” and they will be indicted in federal court. If you violate state law, you can expect to be tried in state court (with some exceptions).
If there is a dispute between people from two or more states, bankruptcy, admiralty or violation of treaties or the Constitution, the federal court system will have the appropriate jurisdiction for the case. Federal courts also hear civil cases such as patents, copyright and Social Security-related matters.
Both state and federal courts have “trial” courts (where a case is first presented, evidence is seen and testimony is heard), and several levels of appeals courts. In federal court, the United States Supreme Court is the final arbiter. The district courts are the first level, then the U.S. Court of Appeals. Attorneys must be specially licensed to appear in federal courts.
State courts may call their courts different names, but they’re set up in much the same way. The major difference is that all of their courts’ jurisdiction is confined within the state, whereas federal appeals courts often encompass multiple states.
In Texas, federal courts are divided into the United States District Court for the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas. But how many state courts are there? State courts are organized into the Texas Supreme Court, the highest court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas District Courts and finally the Texas County Courts. At the very bottom are the Texas Justice and Municipal courts.
Since each court handles different aspects of the criminal or civil trial process, knowing which court you’re dealing with will help your attorney understand which rules apply and where you are in the trial proceedings.
Get legal representation in United States courts and Lubbock, TX
The Law Office of Rob Biggers offers aggressive legal representation in all Texas state courts and the federal district court for the Northern District of Texas. If you’ve been accused of a crime, or need to bring a family law case of your own, reach out to our office. Our firm specializes in criminal and family law, bringing our West Texas values of integrity and honesty into everything we do. Call us today to arrange a consultation.
**This Blog/Website is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog/website you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.**
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