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What is the difference between federal and state crimes?

There are two kinds of courts in our country. Federal laws apply to everyone in the United States, while state and local laws apply to people within a state, city, county and other municipalities. 

States can enforce their own laws and their state constitutions, however, state and federal laws can overlap. Due to federalism, according to the United States Courts, both the federal government and each of the state governments have their own court systems.

Federal crimes

A federal crime constitutes any violation of federal law and legal code. Government agencies will investigate these crimes – FBI, IRS or DEA. When at trial, the Unites States Attorney will prosecute federal crimes rather than a state or district attorney.

Federal crimes include:

  • White-collar crime
  • International money laundering
  • Identity theft
  • Major thefts like art of jewelry.
  • Drug trafficking
  • Hate crimes
  • Felonies
  • Gun crimes
  • Immigration crimes
  • Credit card or ATM fraud
  • Organized crime
  • Intellectual property crimes

State crimes

State crime involves breaking the state’s own criminal law or public international law. A crime or series or crimes will fall under federal jurisdiction if it crosses state lines.

State crimes include:

  • Assault/battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Stalking
  • Robbery
  • Homicide
  • Sexual battery

The state court and federal court are two entirely different systems. Federal judges will preside over federal criminal cases, while elected state court judges preside over state criminal cases. Sentencing is also different between federal and state crimes. Federal sentences tend to be much longer than state sentences because of mandatory minimum sentencing. No matter the crime you’ve been charged with, you’ll want skilled counsel that is knowledgeable in navigating the criminal justice system.

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Cactus Law Office, PLLC
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