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What's the Difference Between State and Federal Crimes?

  • It is important to know some crimes are handled strictly by the federal government and the others strictly by state government.

    Just as laws passed by state legislators define crimes under state law, also, the congress defines and punishes offenders that commit federal crimes.

    Federal Jurisdiction

    In the United States, a federal crime is an offense against a federal law and which falls in the majority of cases under the jurisdiction of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) since its creation and is handled by the US federal court system.

    An example of a federal crime, among other things, is if a criminal crosses an interstate border to commit a crime to several types of offenses, such as kidnappings, murder, or drug crimes.

    With a few notable exceptions, the jurisdiction of federal courts extends to a wide variety of cases. The federal judges themselves deal with civil and criminal proceedings, disputes that fall within the sector of public and private law, cases involving natural persons, legal entities and governmental bodies, appeals following the provisions of administrative bodies and regulated matters by customary law.

    The State Jurisdiction

    Federal courts are not the only courts available to anyone wishing to bring legal action. In contrast, the vast majority of disputes brought before US courts take place in state courts, separate systems established in each of the 50 states.

    Most state judicial systems are structured in first instance courts with general jurisdiction, intermediate Courts of Appeals and a state Supreme Court. They may also provide for lower-order courts for specific matters, county courts, municipal courts, courts for small claims or justices of the peace called upon to resolve minor disputes.

    The organization of state courts varies from state to state, as well as the very denomination of the courts.

    In New York State, for example, the court of last resort is not called the Supreme Court, as is the case in the vast majority of other states, but is called the Court of Appeals.

    The jurisdiction attributed to state courts is significantly higher than that provided for in favor of federal courts. For example, it is before state courts that divorce and child custody cases, inheritance matters, real estate and child cases, contractual disputes, traffic violations, personal injury lawsuits as well as most criminal cases are held.

    Importantly, federal and state courts are required to give "full trust and credit" to their respective rulings. The supremacy clause of the Constitution states that, in the event of a conflict, federal laws take precedence over state laws.

    Types of Federal and State Crimes

    Some examples of federal crimes include:

    • Drug trafficking
    • Possession of weapon
    • Internet sex crimes
    • Top financial crimes
    • Cybercrimes

     Some of the crimes charged under state laws are:

    • Wrongful Death
    • Housebreaking / burglary
    • Physical attack
    • Robbery
    • Possession of hard drugs in small quantity
    • All forms of theft crimes

    There are some unique cases where the offenses under the state laws are charged as federal offenses. For instance, a robbery crime by a big criminal organization operating in multiple states will be charged as a federal crime.

    If you have been charged with a federal crime, it is best to seek a defense attorney for federal crimes immediately.

    Get Legal Help

    If you are under investigation for a crime, you will definitely need the help of a lawyer who has experience with similar cases. When you're ready to protect your future, your lawyer will help you understand the justice system and begin to build your custom defense strategy. Schedule your free consultation today with Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. by calling 214-984-3113 or by visiting them online.