What’s the Difference Between a State and Federal Crime?
Don’t make a federal crime out of it. We’ve all heard the phrase, but what does it really mean? What’s the difference between a federal crime and a state crime? This distinction can be very important if you’re facing criminal charges. Becoming better informed on the subject can help you better understand the charges you’re facing.
State Crimes vs. Federal Crimes
The United States is made up of 50 states, each of which has its own legislature – which enacts the state’s own laws that apply only to that individual state. A prime example of distinct state laws is that Colorado laws allow you to possess a small amount of recreational marijuana while Texas laws decidedly do not.
Penalties for breaking similar laws in different states are specific to each of the states. If you break a law in South Carolina, for example, your punishment will be specific to South Carolina; if you break a similar law in another state, you may face a distinctly different punishment.
Federal laws are enacted by Congress, and they apply to everyone in the country. Further, the penalties for federal crimes are the same across the board – no matter what state you happen to be in when you commit the crime.
Can a Crime be Both a State and Federal Crime?
Yes, some crimes are both state and federal crimes. Such crimes include child pornography, drug trafficking, many white-collar crimes, identity theft, and fraud-related crimes. The more serious the crime, the greater the chance that it will be prosecuted at the federal level rather than at the state level. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the primary federal agency – often in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the IRS, and other local, state, and federal agencies – that investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of federal crimes.
Federal crimes are typically more serious than similar charges at the state level. Thus, a conviction at the federal level generally incurs harsher sentences and fines than a similar conviction at the state level. Further, federal prisons – sometimes jokingly referred to as club fed – are often nicer facilities. Federal prisons are more likely to be minimal security facilities that house white-collar criminals who’ve committed financially-motivated offenses, while state prisons often house criminals who’ve committed violent crimes.
If You’re Facing Criminal Charges in the Columbia Area, Contact Criminal Defense Attorney William A. Hodge Today
Whether they’re state or federal, criminal charges are always frightening. After all, your continued freedom could be in jeopardy. Learning more about how the state and federal criminal justice systems work can help assuage your fears by allowing you to better understand the legal process you’re facing. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need experienced legal counsel. William A. Hodge, Attorney at Law, has the experience, skill, and commitment to aggressively advocate for your rights and for your case’s most positive resolution. I’m William, and I’m here to help, so please contact me online or call me at 803-457-2216 today.