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Federal Prosecution vs State Prosecution

Chicago, IL criminal defense attorney Gal Pissetzky discusses the main difference between federal prosecution and state prosecution.

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The difference is obviously the venue. Federal crimes are prosecuted in federal court. State crimes are prosecuted in state court. There’s completely two different set of rules between state and federal courts. There are crimes where the stakes are much higher in federal court because of certain mandatory minimums. Where in state court even though there are mandatory minimums, many times if you reach some type of a plea agreement with the state, they would agree to reduce the crime to a lesser crime. It’s legal fiction in a way where they agree to say that – let’s say it’s a drug crime and you have over 100 grams of cocaine. But they will reduce it from possession with intent to deliver to just possession. And that makes it a lower level crime. Or they will reduce it and say okay, we will agree just to say you only had 50 grams rather than a hundred grams. In federal court it doesn’t happen. Federal prosecutors will prosecute you on what they believe that you have committed. So if you had a hundred grams, it will be a hundred grams. The plea agreement or the plea bargaining in federal court is a lot different than in state court.

Federal prosecutors usually hold themselves to and believe that they are better prosecutors or better litigators than state prosecutors. Federal court is known to be a tougher place for criminal defense attorneys to litigate cases. Many criminal defense attorneys are afraid of federal court.

I get referrals from other attorneys. I get a lot of calls from individuals who are facing federal charges because they know, and my reputation is that I am not afraid of challenging the federal prosecutor.

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