If you live in New York and have been charged with a crime in Nevada, you might be wondering what to do if you have a court date in another state. Because states have jurisdiction over the crimes that occur there, you'll most likely have to eat the expenses and appear in that inconvenient state's court, with some exceptions. You can transfer a court case to another state, but the process varies depending on the type of case, as does the likelihood of the move. While some state constitutions detail the rights and processes of a change in court venue, it's more often than not left up to statutes or court rules, so the ins and outs of transferring a case can vary widely.
Transferring Family Law Cases
Because family law cases often deal with families in some sort of transition, there's some precedent for transferring these cases among courts. For instance, the federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act establishes uniform rules for custody proceedings across the country, which may help facilitate a change of courthouse venue. However, the state in which the child in question has lived for six months or more, or the state in which the custody decree was rendered typically gets home-state jurisdiction.
If your family spans two states – say, for instance, one parent battling for custody now lives in Vermont, while the other resides in Maine – you can request to modify the jurisdiction in family law cases. Upon this request, the courts in both states will confer to arrive at a decision that best suits the child's best interest. This, of course, is determined at the courts' will on a case-by-case basis.
The requirements for moving a family law case vary by state laws and civil procedures, but some reasons for a potential move include the court determining that the original petition was not filed in the proper venue or that there is no judge qualified to hear the case in the current court. Venues can also change if the current court isn't convenient to the parties or witnesses or if a fair trial isn't possible in the original court.
Change of Venue in Criminal Cases
As for how to transfer a court case to another state during criminal proceedings, the issue of a fair trial becomes particularly important because criminal defendants are entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury. Though a court may have home-state jurisdiction over the crime, it's sometimes inevitable that juror impartiality in that jurisdiction is unlikely. When this is the situation, a defense attorney may choose to move the trial elsewhere. In most states, this option is not afforded to the prosecution. The attorney sets this process in motion via a written affidavit.
In order to achieve the move, the defending attorney must provide ample grounds for change, such as an entire – not partial – jury pool that is likely to have a personal connection to the defendant; a biased judge; or a highly significant and provable amount of unfavorable local pretrial publicity. As in family cases, criminal cases may change venue due to convenience, as well.
Court Appearance May Not Be Necessary
In cases involving misdemeanor crimes, it's common for states to allow a local attorney to represent an out-of-state defendant, which can save the defendant the hassle of having to travel across country to appear in court. If this applies to your situation, you may not need to transfer your case from one state to another after all.
- Nolo Criminal Defense Lawyer: Dealing With an Out of State Criminal Charge
- Evans Law Group: Child Custody – Transferring Child Jurisdiction from State to State
- A People's Choice Registered Legal Document Assistant Service: Transfer a Family Law Case to Another County
- Nolo: Change of Venue in a Criminal Case
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.