Federal district courts often act as the first phase of criminal trials in the United States. A case that involves a Federal offense will be carried out in a Federal district court. Subsequently, the case may move to the United States Court of Appeals, and in some instances, even the Supreme Court. However, in many cases, a verdict that is delivered in a Federal district court is not taken to an appellate court.
Federal district courts are trial courts that hear all types of cases surrounding Federal offenses, including both criminal and civil violations. The district court has the authority and jurisdiction to preside over most Federal cases, though some limits have been set by Congress. The Federal district court system depends upon a group of individuals, known as a jury, to listen to and review the case and subsequently deliver an appropriate verdict. The number of individuals who comprise a jury varies from one case to another.
There are more than 90 Federal district courts situated in various locations throughout the United States. The country is divided into a number of different regions or districts. There are 11 different districts, each of which contains three or more states. There is at least one court located in each State, with some states possessing more than one district court.
Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia also have independent district courts, as do a number of the United States’ territories, including the Marina Islands, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Federal violations that occur in these locations will be tried in the local Federal district court.