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Federal and State Criminal Trials

Berkeley, CA |

In the news there was a story from Florida of a politician pleading guilty before Circuit Judge Marc Lubet.

I thought that Circuit courts are Federal Appellate Courts (11 Circuit Courts in the U.S.). And Federal Trial Courts are called U.S. District Courts (94 U.S. District Courts in the U.S.).

While on the state level, trial courts are called Superior Courts (For example in California, there are 58 Superior Courts and 451 court houses covering the 58 California counties).

So can a defendant make a plea in a Circuit Court?

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Attorney answers 4


Dont believe everything you read, though you may want to have a gander at this:


Federal appellate courts are Circuit Courts of Appeal. Circuit Court in Florida is the state Court with general jurisdiction over $15k for Covil and felonies for criminal courts). It is the equivalent to CA Superior Courts. The same level courts in the federal system are district courts as they are in state courts on Colorado. The moral of this story is that each sovereign can call its courts whatever it wants to call them. A defendant cannot enter a plea in any appellate courts. The Florida Circuit Court must have been the court at issue in your politician's case.

The information provided herein does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided is to suggerst some general principles and should not be relied upon for client decisions. Only upon the hiring of counsel can such advice be custom-tailored to the client's specific situation and needs.


State trial courts come with various names. For example in the State of Florida, their trial courts are called "circuit courts." In New York, the highest level trial courts are called the 'supreme court." So yes in Florida you can plea in the circuit court, but it is the state court.

The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.


Illinois, for example, has no Magistrates Court, no Superior Court, no District Court, no Surrogate's Court, no Orphan's Court (my favorite) no Appellate Division and no Court of Criminal Appeals, all of which are found in some other states. The Illinois trial court is called the Circuit Court. The court that hears appeals from the circuit court is called the Appellate Court. The state's highest court is called the Supreme Court. Every state sets up its own court structure and uses its own names.

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