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State courts and federal courts: What are the differences?

The judiciary in the United States is divided into federal and state courts. Federal courts are under the purview of the Constitution of the United States state courts are under the purview of the state constitution, which means that Indiana state courts are under the purview of the Constitution of Indiana. There are, however, certain differences between state and federal courts, based mainly on the type of cases that are heard in each type of court or, in other words, the jurisdiction of each type of court.

State courts have jurisdiction over various matters. Some examples of a state court's jurisdiction would include family law cases, criminal cases, antitrust cases, bankruptcy-related cases, intellectual property cases and certain types of maritime law cases. Some of these types of cases can also be heard in federal courts, provided that jurisdiction over that particular type of case is listed in the U.S. Constitution.

A federal court usually has jurisdiction over cases where the one of the litigants is the United States, where the case pertains to the violation of the Constitution of the United States, where the case pertains to a dispute between two states and where the case involves considerations in excess of $75,000. Federal courts also have jurisdiction over cases related to intellectual property, bankruptcy and maritime law.

What may interest many readers is how criminal cases are dealt with by federal and state courts. Per current laws, almost all criminal cases come under the purview of the state court as criminal laws often state-specific. A federal court may hear a criminal case only if that crime is classified as a federal crime. Some examples would include drug crimes and crimes committed on federal property.

Another major difference between federal and state pertains to the workload handled by these two types of courts. Per data released by the Federal Judicial Center, 1 million cases are filed every year in federal courts and 30 million cases are filed in state courts across the country. As a result, there are 1,700 authorized judgeships in federal courts and 30,000 authorized judgeships in state courts.

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