While most crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the state in which they were committed, some crimes are investigated and prosecuted by the federal court instead.
In general, federal offenses are those which violate federal laws or laws in multiple states. Federal crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement and the federal court and often result in severe penalties. If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, it’s essential that you contact an experienced federal criminal attorney who can represent you.
What crimes are prosecuted by the federal government?
Federal offenses typically fall under one of the six categories of crimes listed below.
1. Crimes that involve multiple states
When a crime crosses state lines, involves multiple states, or interferes with trade between states it is charged as a federal offense. Examples of some such crimes include:
- Kidnapping and abduction
- Mail fraud
- Antitrust violations
2. Crimes that occur on federal property
Some crimes that are typically handled by the state court become federal offenses when they occur on federal property. For example, a crime like vandalism might be charged federally if it occurs on federal property such as a federal government building, military base, Native American reservation or government housing.
3. Crimes against the government
Crimes against the government are always charged federally regardless of whether they are against the state or federal government. Crimes against the government can include theft of government funds, interfering with government systems (such as hacking government computers), or acts of treason and attempts to overthrow the government.
4. Acts of terrorism
Any act of domestic terrorism with be handled by the U.S. federal court. Acts of terrorism involve the use of violence or force against individuals or property and often result in severe trauma, mass injury or deaths. Penalties depend on the severity of the act and damage caused but will most likely include incarceration in federal prison.
5. Crimes that deliberately cause harm
Crimes in which the defendant possessed intent to cause harm to others may be charged federally due to their severity. Additionally, crimes against federal officials are charged federally, even if they would otherwise typically be handled by the state. For example, charges of manslaughter against a federal law enforcement official would be under federal jurisdiction. Examples of crimes that deliberately cause harm that may be handled federally include:
- Armed robbery
6. Crimes including aggravating factors
When the circumstances of a crime make it worse or more serious than the general legal definition of the crime, it is considered to have “aggravating factors,” which increases the severity of the charge including the potential penalties. The increase of a charge from simple to aggravated may be cause to move the case from the jurisdiction of the state to federal court. Crimes that may be handled federally due to aggravating factors include:
- Sexual abuse
- Identity theft
If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, your future and freedom could be at stake. It’s essential that you secure a defense attorney who is qualified to handle federal cases and who is dedicated to fighting for your rights.
As an experienced defense attorney who has represented clients in California state and federal court for over three decades, I have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the federal investigation and prosecution process and build an aggressive defense strategy against your charges. Call the law offices of Robert M. Helfend today to set up your free consultation – 800-834-6434.