Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

When might a case be prosecuted federally?

The U.S. court systems are complex, and there is often confusion when it comes to understanding what qualifies as a federal case.

Knowing the differences between state, local, and federal cases can be vital in protecting your legal rights. 

Federal charges 

Generally, a crime is considered federal when it violates U.S. federal laws or when the individual carries out criminal activity across multiple states or on federal property. For example, vandalism might be considered a state offense if it occurs on private property but would become a federal offense if it happened on federally owned land.

The most common types of federal crimes include fraud, drug and violent crimes. Government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prosecute these offenses. They can often carry penalties far more severe than those imposed by state courts. 

On the other hand, a felony is a serious criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Felonies are typically classified into different categories based on their severity, with Class A felonies being the most serious and Class E felonies being the least serious. 

It’s important to note that many federal charges are classified as felonies, but not all felonies are federal charges. State governments also have their own criminal laws and can bring charges against individuals for felony offenses that violate state law. However, a federal charge can also be a felony offense if it is classified as such under federal law.

The process for prosecuting a federal case is also different from that of a state case. In a state case, prosecutors or district attorneys bring charges against an individual, while in a federal case, they are brought by United States Attorneys. 

If you have been accused of committing a crime at either the state or federal level, contacting someone who can help protect your rights throughout the process is essential.