The Differences between Federal Crime Vs. State Crime
Are you looking for a definitive guide to be able to tell the difference between a federal crime vs. state crime?
It can be difficult to find good information on what determines if a crime is federal or state, the differences between them, and how to tell if a crime is federal or state. Luckily for you, we are here to break down this topic in an accurate and simple way so that you can understand federal crimes vs. state crimes.
In this article, we are going to be going over the following topics when it comes to the differences between federal and state crimes:
- Why is Knowing the Difference between a Federal and State Crime Important?
- What Makes a Crime a Federal Crime?
- What Makes a Crime a State Crime?
- The Differences between Federal Crime and State Crime Procedures?
- How to Know if a Crime is Federal or State
Why is Knowing the Difference Between a Federal Crime and a State Crime Important?
Knowing the difference between a federal crime and state crime is important for a number of reasons:
- It will determine the level of assistance you need
- Procedures will be different
- Prosecutions will be different
- Punishments will be different
If you understand the differences between a federal and state crime, you will have an advantage over those who don’t. By being able to predict how a case’s procedures will follow, you will be able to better maneuver a case, get in contact with the right people who can help you by getting in contact with a relevant criminal lawyer, and be able to predict sentence outcomes that are more likely or not. With this knowledge, you are much more likely to get an outcome that is better for you in your case.
What Makes a Crime a Federal Crime?
A federal crime is defined as an act that is made criminal or illegal by federal law and is prosecuted in federal courts. Oftentimes, cases are handled in state courts or at a smaller scale than federal. However, if any federal institution is involved in the crime, it is considered a federal crime because it directly involves the United States Government.
What is Considered a Federal Crime?
Here are some charges that are currently seen as a federal offense:
- Aggravative Charges
- Acts of Terrorism
- Criminal Activity on Federal Property (federal prisons, banks, national parks, and courthouses)
- Crimes that Affect Multiple States
- Identity Theft
- Drug Trafficking
What Makes a Crime a State Crime?
A state crime is defined as any action that breaks the state’s criminal law or public international law. The majority of criminal cases are handled in state courts. To put it simply, any crime that is within the state and doesn’t involve a federal institution such as a federal bank, is considered a state crime.
Additionally, anything with a minimum punishment of two years or more is considered a state crime.
What is Considered a State Crime?
Here are some examples of common state crimes:
- Non-Violent Financial Crimes
What are the differences between Federal and State Procedures?
When cases take place in a federal court, they are prosecuted by a United States attorney. When cases are conducted in a state court, they are prosecuted by a state, district, or city attorney.
Enforcement & Penalties
As a general rule, federal penalties are more severe than state penalties, even if it is a similar (or the exact same) crime.
When someone is sent to prison through a federal court, you are sent to federal prison. When someone is sent to prison through a state or local court, they serve time in state prisons or local jails.
Federal crimes can be handled by many agencies that have access to investigate federal events. Some of these agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Secret Service.
For the most part, state crimes are handled by police departments, county sheriffs offices, and state authorities.
What Determines if a Crime is Federal or State?
As far as what determines a federal crime vs. state crime, if the crime affects any type of federal institution or the United States government, then it is considered a federal crime against the United States.
For example, robbing a bank is considered a federal crime because it involves a federal institution, a United States bank. However, if a criminal robs a U.S. citizen’s house, it is considered a state crime because a federal institution is not involved.
The federal courts would handle the bank robbery, while the state courts would handle the house robbery.
If the case involves a federal institution or something that the federal government is involved with, then it is most likely a federal crime. If it doesn’t, then the case will most likely be handled at the state level.
How to Know if a Crime is Federal or State
As a general rule, if a federal institution isn’t involved, it is most likely a state crime. There are exceptions, but for the most part, that is the deciding factor.
If you want to find out if your case is a federal or state crime, than visit The United States Federal Criminal Code, which explains and consolidates the laws of the United States Federal government.
A lawyer knowledgeable in both federal and state court systems is the best option. To get the best guidance, contact Dutko Law so that we can help you work through any personal case or case that you’re involved in.
Understanding the similarities and differences between a federal crime vs. state crime is extremely important for United States citizens. Knowing this information allows you to prepare for or handle any case that you may be involved with. A federal crime is a crime that is handled by the federal courts, while a state crime is a crime that is handled by the courts within that state.
By getting in contact with an experienced attorney, you will be able to fully understand your case so that you can get the best outcome possible.