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Because each state is autonomous with regard to its ability to create criminal laws, as well as civil laws within each state legislature, criminal laws can vary from state to state.
However, when it comes to being charged under federal criminal law, the outcome, regardless of the state in which a charge is made, should be the same. In addition to providing for the same under federal criminal law, someone being charged under federal criminal statutes will most generally face a more severe penalty than being charged with breaking a state criminal law.
Some type of criminal code and procedure, whether state or federal, will govern all criminal trials. State constitutions may add to the rules of criminal procedure, but may not take away from any of a person's federal rights or protections. Regardless of being charged in state criminal court or federal criminal court, the burden of proof is slightly different than a civil proceeding.
A criminal defense lawyer will need to provide representation to his/her client such that they show that there is a reasonable doubt that the crime being charged was not committed. In a civil proceeding, plaintiff must only show a preponderance of the evidence.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|