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The Difference Between State and Federal Crimes


Most criminal prosecutions occur at the state level, which means that many defendants who are accused of committing a crime in Florida can expect to be charged and tried in a county,  municipal court, or state. However, the federal government does have jurisdiction over certain criminal matters, including those reserved by the U.S. Constitution and offenses that occur on federal property or involve a federal employee. In fact, many offenses can be charged in both state and federal court, which can have devastating consequences for defendants, so if you are being investigated for a federal offense, it is critical to retain an experienced federal crimes attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.

When can I be Charged in Federal Court? 

Defendants can only be charged with a federal offense in certain situations, including when the offense involves:

  • The crossing of state boundaries;
  • Injury to a federal employee;
  • Federal property;
  • Allegations of bankruptcy fraud;
  • Mail fraud;
  • Tax evasion and tax fraud; and
  • Counterfeiting.

In these cases, a defendant could face charge in federal court, which can have serious repercussions for the outcome of a case, as federal offenses tend to be more aggressively investigated, tried, and punished than their state counterparts.

Federal Property  

State and city governments have direct authority over most offenses that occur in the state. There is an exception, however, for crimes that occur on federal property. This includes areas, such as national parks, federal prisons, federal courthouses, Indian reservations, and the District of Columbia, as well as places where the federal government is granted temporary authority.

State Lines  

Under the Commerce Clause, Congress was granted authority to criminalize behavior that involves the crossing of state lines or that affects interstate commerce. For example, mail and wire fraud are considered federal offenses. Crimes related to drugs and firearms can also be prosecuted in federal court if they involve trafficking or transportation across state lines.

Concurrent Jurisdiction  

In some criminal cases, federal and state law overlap. This means that a defendant who is acquitted of a federal charge could still technically be tried in state court for the same crime. Having the guidance of an experienced attorney can make all the difference in these types of cases.

Get the Legal Representation You Deserve  

To speak with an experienced Miami federal crimes attorney about your own pending charges, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today. A member of our legal team is eager to help you schedule a free case evaluation at your earliest convenience and get started on your case.


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Miami Criminal Attorneys

9130 South Dadeland Blvd
Miami, Florida 33156

Telephone: 305-670-9919
Fax: 305-670-9299

Miami Abogado Criminal Jeffrey S. Weiner website - Delitos de Negocios, Delitos de Drogas y Apelaciones

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