Service & Results.

nyc criminal lawyers over 30 years of experienceWe Know How To Win Cases

Spodek Law Group handles tough cases
nationwide, that demand excellence.

Get Free Consultation

Faced 5+ Years in Prison

People Vs Joseph Amico

Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.

Faced 10+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Anna Sorokin

Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.

Faced 3+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Genevieve Sabourin

Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.

Faced Potential Charges

Ghislaine Maxwell Juror

Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.

Why Choose Us

Clients can use our portal to track the status of their case, stay in touch with us, upload documents, and more.

Regardless of the type of situation you're facing, our attorneys are here to help you get quality representation.

We can setup consultations in person, over Zoom, or over the phone to help you. Bottom line, we're here to help you win your case.

Law in the Media

View All

Meet Todd Spodek


The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

We’re selective about the clients we work with, and only take on cases we know align with our experience – and where we can make a difference. This is different from other law firms who are not invested in your success nor care about your outcome.

If you have a legal issue, call us for a consultation.
We are available 24/7, to help you with any – and all, challenges you face.

The Key Differences Between State and Federal Criminal Cases

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 21, 2023)

Last Updated on: 21st October 2023, 09:04 am


The Key Differences Between State and Federal Criminal Cases

If you’ve ever been charged with a crime, you probably know that the case can either be heard in state or federal court. But what’s the difference, and why does it matter? In this article, we’ll break down the key differences between state and federal criminal cases in a simple, easy-to-understand way.


The first big difference is jurisdiction – meaning which court system has the power to hear the case. State courts handle cases involving violations of state laws. For example, murder, assault, theft, and drunk driving charges are usually state crimes. Federal courts deal with federal laws like tax evasion, civil rights violations, and crimes committed across state borders or on federal land. Both court systems can charge you if your crime violates both state and federal laws.


Since state and federal courts enforce different laws, the charges and penalties you face will depend on where your case is tried. States have their own criminal codes, sentencing guidelines, and criminal procedures. Federal criminal law comes from the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes passed by Congress. The types of crimes prosecuted federally include drug trafficking, immigration violations, white-collar financial crimes as well as major frauds against the government. Federal laws often have harsher punishments than state laws – for example, some federal drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5, 10, or 20 years in prison.

Courts and Judges

There are major structural differences between state and federal courts. Every state has its own court system made up of trial courts, appeals courts, and a state Supreme Court. Federal courts include district courts, appeals courts called Circuit Courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. State judges are usually elected or appointed by state officials, while federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Also, federal courts have jurisdiction over the entire country, so federal law is applied more uniformly nationwide.


State criminal cases are handled by prosecutors who work for the local District Attorney’s office. They prosecute crimes that violate state laws. Federal prosecutors work for the U.S. Department of Justice and prosecute cases involving violations of federal law. They have more resources and handle more complex cases than state prosecutors. For example, large drug trafficking rings are often prosecuted federally. Both state and federal prosecutors have a lot of power and discretion over criminal charging and plea bargaining.

Defendants’ Rights

Some key defendants’ rights are the same in both court systems – like the right to a jury trial, right against self-incrimination, and right to counsel. However, the way these rights play out can differ. For instance, federal juries have 12 members while state jury sizes vary. Also, indigent defendants are provided public defenders in state courts and CJA attorneys in federal courts. Overall, federal courts tend to have more pretrial motions and procedural rules to follow.

Pretrial Process

After arrest, the pretrial process has some differences too. The main steps are booking, bail hearings, preliminary hearings, plea bargaining, and motions to suppress evidence. Key contrasts are that state courts tend to set lower bail amounts, have quicker timelines, and fewer pretrial motions. Also, not all states use grand juries to bring charges like federal courts do. In federal court, prosecutors have to present evidence to a grand jury to get an indictment before a case can proceed.


Federal sentences tend to be harsher with stricter mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines for judges. There is no parole in the federal system – inmates serve at least 85% of their sentence. States have more flexibility in sentencing and most allow parole. Also, death penalty cases are tried in state court, except for rare federal crimes like treason. The appeals process differs too – federal cases get appealed to the Circuit Court while state appeals go to the state appeals court.

Prison Systems

If convicted and sentenced to prison, federal inmates serve their time in prisons operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). State inmates are housed in prison systems run by each state’s Department of Corrections. Some key differences are that federal prisons have fewer geriatric and special needs facilities, and they are more likely to place inmates farther from their families. But federal prisons tend to have safer conditions and more educational programs.

Probation and Parole

Both systems can sentence offenders to probation for less serious crimes. Federal probation tends to have more conditions like drug testing and counseling. States also use parole boards to determine if and when inmates should be released early from prison. The federal system has no parole – inmates max out their sentences minus 15% for good behavior.

Record Expungement

Many states allow expungement of criminal records for certain offenses after a period of time, which gives people a fresh start. Federal law does not provide for expungement of federal convictions, however, and federal criminal records stay on your record for life.

Key Takeaways

So in summary, some of the main differences between state and federal criminal cases include:

  • State courts handle state law violations, federal courts handle federal law violations.
  • Federal laws and sentences tend to be harsher with mandatory minimums.
  • Federal courts have uniform procedures nationwide, while state courts differ.
  • Federal courts have more pretrial motions and longer timelines before trial.
  • Federal prisons generally have better conditions than state prisons.
  • States allow parole and earlier release, while federal system does not.
  • Record expungement is possible in many states but not in federal cases.

As you can see, the court system that handles your criminal case has a big impact. Understanding these key differences between state and federal prosecution is helpful for anyone facing criminal charges.


State Court – Wex Legal Dictionary, Cornell Law School
About Federal Courts – United States Courts
Plea Bargaining and Conviction Rates – DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – Legal Information Institute
Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual 2018 – United States Sentencing Commission
BOP: Federal Prisons – Federal Bureau of Prisons

Free Consultation


I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

~Fonder Brandon

5 Stars
It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

~A G

5 Stars
After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

~George Cherubini

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We Provide Superior Service, Excellent Results, At A Level Superior To Other Criminal Defense Law Firms. Regardless Of Where Your Case Is, Nationwide, We Can Help You.
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions

Los Angeles

611 S Catalina St Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90005


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions
Call Now!