When is a Crime Charged as a Federal Offense?
Whether a crime is charged in state or federal court depends on a variety of factors, including where the offense allegedly occurred and the nature of the criminal activity in question. For instance, an offense that involves criminal activity conducted in multiple states is much more likely to be charged in federal court than in state court. Which agency was involved in investigating the crime and the exact wording of the law that was allegedly violated also play a critical role when it comes to determining whether an offense will be tried in state or federal court.
Whether an offense falls under the jurisdiction of the federal or state court has important implications for defendants, as the penalties for conviction in federal court tend to be much more severe than their state counterparts. Federal prosecutors are also notorious for being especially aggressive in their investigation and pursuit of federal defendants, so if you have been accused of a crime by a federal agency, it is important to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
One of the most common reasons that an offense that would otherwise be tried in state court is tried by federal prosecutors is that the crime was allegedly conducted on federal property. This could include buildings owned by the federal government, in addition to government housing, Native American reservations, or even a national park. In fact, even if a crime was not allegedly committed on federal property, but was committed in more than one state, and so theoretically could affect interstate commerce, it can be charged as a federal offense.
There are also a number of criminal offenses that become federal crimes due to the application of aggravating factors, which usually increase the severity of a crime. Assault, battery, and identity theft are all examples of offenses that can be charged in federal court if it is determined that certain aggravating factors, such as violence or the use of a deadly weapon, were present when the offense occurred.
Crimes Against the Government
Federal courts also have jurisdiction over offenses that involve crimes against the government, whether they involve white collar offenses, such as the identity theft of a single government official, or hacking into a federally owned computer. Alternatively, a person accused of advocating the overthrow of the government, or someone charged with treason would be required to go through the federal courts. Offenses involving accusations of terrorism, such as hijacking a plane, also fall under the jurisdiction of federal courts.
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If you have been accused of an offense in federal court, you could be facing serious penalties, including time in a federal prison. For help defending yourself against these kinds of charges, please contact dedicated federal crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami at 305-670-9919 today or send us an online message and a member of our legal team will help you schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.