Difference Between State & Federal Offenses

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 19-Apr-2016

In the United States we have federal laws and state laws, and thus, “federal offenses” and “state offenses.” Our federal laws are created by the United States Congress, whereas state laws are created by state legislatures.

Some offenses are solely criminalized under federal law; this means that they are federal crimes. On the other hand, some offenses are criminalized under both state law and federal law.

When an offender commits a crime that is a state and federal offense, for example, identity theft, the state and federal prosecutors decide whether to prosecute the case in state or federal court.

Many “federal crimes” involve white collar crimes, such as embezzlement, healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud, and other financially motivated crimes. In contrast, many theft, drug and violent crimes are prosecuted in the state courts.

Not only are offenses categorized as state and federal crimes, but they are also separated into misdemeanors and felonies. Of the two, felonies are considered to be more serious.

A misdemeanor may result in up to one year in jail, whereas a felony can result in at least one year behind bars to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Or, in some cases the death penalty.

What is the difference between state and federal prison?

There is a definite difference between state and federal prison. Just ask anyone who has been to both and they will quickly tell you that they like it better in federal prison. Why? For starters, federal prisons tend to house more white collar criminals, people who are in for non-violent, but financially motivated schemes.

In contrast, the hardened criminals are sent to state penitentiaries. We’re talking about the rapists and murderers, the people who are incarcerated for serious violent felonies. Not only that, but state prisons have a lot of rival gangs who do not fare well when they’re in close quarters with their enemies from the streets.

When given the choice, most people would prefer to be housed in a federal prison vs. a state prison, however, federal offenses tend to carry harsher sentencing and penalties than state-level crimes.

If you are being charged with a crime that is criminalized under state and federal law, you need to speak with a Richmond criminal defense attorney from our firm right away – call now for help!

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