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What is the difference between State and Federal Crimes?

Posted in Blog on February 7th, 2014

Federal Offenses vs. State Offenses

The United States Government and each individual state government in the country have specific laws that define criminal behavior. If you break one of these laws, you can face federal or state criminal charges.  If you committed a state crime in the State of Florida then you will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney in state criminal court.  If you break a federal law then you will be prosecuted by the U. S. Attorney’s Office in federal court.

Some examples of state crimes are murder, theft, drug possession and assault and battery.  The State of Florida has developed a criminal code that can be found in the Florida Statutes.

In some instances, a crime can overlap into both federal and state laws (i.e. Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon).  The next step is to determine which government; state of federal will prosecute the crime.  Generally, if a crime is committed solely within the boundaries of one state then it is prosecuted in state criminal court.  If, the crime occurs in multiple states or crosses a state line, it is generally will be prosecuted by the federal government as a federal offense.

In addition to crimes that cross state lines, federal offenses are also crimes that violate federal laws or are committed on or against federal property. Many crimes that are considered federal offenses can be found in Title 18 of the United States Code. A few examples of crimes defined as federal include money laundering, mail or wire fraud and drug importation. Drug Trafficking and kidnapping are examples of the type of state crimes that become federal when, during the commission of the crime, the offenders cross state lines.

For more information on the distinction between State and Federal Courts, or if you are seeking representation in regards to a criminal charge, contact Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel at 954-383-3000.00