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Common Types of Federal Cases

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Maryland federal criminal defense attorney Kush Arora.

What Types of Federal Cases Are The Most Common?

Kush Arora: There are all kinds of federal cases and, a lot of times, federal cases are very similar to the kinds of things that we see in state court. For example, there are speeding tickets that are heard in federal court. There are DUIs that are heard in federal court. There are assault charges that are heard in federal court. Primarily, the misdemeanor kinds of cases that are heard in federal court have more to do with jurisdiction than they do with the seriousness of the criminal act. What I mean by jurisdiction is the place where the act occurred. If somebody is on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, for example, a DUI they receive there falls under the jurisdiction of the federal court, because that is a federally-owned roadway. Similarly, a fight on a military base, while still in the state of Maryland, falls under federal jurisdiction and would go to federal court. These kinds of charges are handled differently than they are in the state court system.

We also see white collar criminal acts of embezzlement, money laundering, and theft charges in federal court. These theft-related offenses have a great deal more complexity behind them than a shoplifting or a standard robbery type of charge that somebody might have committed in a convenience store. We see human trafficking cases quite a bit these days as well. These cases have to do with jurisdiction, but a little bit differently than DUI or assault cases. They often fall under the federal court’s jurisdiction when a person is alleged to be engaging in prostitution or engaging in being an agent for prostitutes in the state of Maryland, but is perhaps bringing those people that are in his employ in from other states. Jurisdictional issues arise in that kind of situation because the crime is not exclusive to the state of Maryland, it has crossed over state borders and therefore, the federal government’s jurisdiction prevails. We don’t see very many misdemeanor drug cases in the federal system unless they took place on one of those federal roadways and constituted federal jurisdiction. We do see a lot of federal cases that could be there because they involved interstate movement of drugs, or because they were referred in from the State’s Attorney’s offices because they were in such a large quantity that they warranted review by the federal system.

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