Differences between Federal and State Laws

There are different types of laws and Federal laws apply to everyone in the United States, in every state, while the others apply to people who live in a particular state, territory, city, town or village. Most criminal cases are tried in state court, but the ones involving federal laws are tried in federal court, and crimes committed on federal property are also prosecuted in federal court. In the US, federal law is created by the federal government, which has power and authority over state governments and can pass laws that concern foreign affairs and the nation’s currency, based on the US Constitution upholding the basic rights.


The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law in the United States, creating a system in which power is shared, and due to federalism, each of the state governments has their own court systems, different in judicial selection. There are two kinds of courts, thus: state courts and federal courts, they are established by the state under the U.S. Constitution, and the differences between them are defined mainly by jurisdiction, which refers to the kinds of cases a court is authorized to hear. In the U.S. the governments make laws, but each system has different responsibilities.


Federal law is created at the national level, and applies to all 50 states and U.S. territories, establishing government power and responsibility, while state law is the law of each separate state and applies to residents of the state, as well as corporations based in that state. The federal government gets the money it spends and roughly 80% of comes from the taxes that fund social insurance programs, while the rest is from a mix of sources. Bankruptcy law, Supplemental Security Income laws, Civil rights laws, Patent laws, laws against tax fraud are all Federal laws which apply to all commonwealths and territories, although each has its own courts that handle laws regarding divorce, welfare, Medicaid matter, inheritances, real estate, business contracts, medical malpractice or injuries at work. State and local governments are required by law to balance their budgets, and The National Conference of State Legislature reported that 49 out of 50 states have balanced the requirements.


State courts are not allowed to hear lawsuits against the United States or involving criminal, bankruptcy or copyright cases, while federal court jurisdiction is limited to the types of cases specifically provided for by Congress, hearing mostly cases in which the United States is a party or cases between citizens of different states if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. A state law can afford more rights than federal law. In order to learn some of the basics about U.S. regulations and discover resources check out our other articles.


There are different counties, municipalities, townships in each state or territory, and some have their own system that handles issues such as rent laws or local safety. The law comprises many levels of forms of law, therefore in some cases parties are allowed to choose whether to go to state court or to federal court.

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