Federal Crime Versus State Crime
A federal crime is an action that is illegal according to federal law, which means it is a crime throughout the entire country no matter where it is committed. On the other hand, a state crime is something against the law of a given state; state crimes vary greatly throughout the country — as do the punishments attached to them.
Sometimes a federal crime and a state crime overlap and the perpetrator could be charged with either offense; the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, though, provides that the federal government take authority over the case, which means the offender will be tried through the federal system.
What are examples of a federal crime?
Generally a federal crime is an illegal action that is committed across more than one state, although that is not always the case. Some common examples of federal crimes include the following:
- Computer crimes/hacking
- Counterfeiting of currency
- Immigration violations
- Insurance Fraud
- Mail fraud and other crimes concerning the postal service
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion and fraud
How are the trial and punishment phases different for a federal crime versus a state crime?
There are many differences between trials for federal and state crimes, beginning with the personnel and location. A federal trial is held in a federal courthouse in the district in which the crime occurred; a state trial is held in a county courthouse in the county where the crime occurred. A federal prosecutor brings federal charges, while a district attorney or other state prosecutor brings state criminal charges.
Sentencing is also a different procedure depending on which court system a trial is held; different guidelines are used for minimum sentences, and the provisions may vary greatly. Moreover, a federal trial is governed by a particular set of procedural and evidentiary rules.
For all of these reasons, if you are charged with a federal crime, it is a good idea to seek out a criminal defense attorney with federal court experience.