The Difference Between Federal and State Criminal Charges

All crimes are classified as either misdemeanor or felony charges. They are also divided into state and federal charges. This distinction might not seem like a big deal. However, suppose you are arrested and charged with a crime. In that case, knowing if you face a state or federal charge and the differences between them is crucial. An experienced Illinois federal defense lawyer can help you understand their distinctions and provide reliable representation to fight against your charges.

Federal vs. State Jurisdiction

The most significant difference between state and federal charges involves jurisdiction. Through its federal prosecutors, the federal government prosecutes cases involving federal crimes. Illinois prosecutes defendants who have broken state laws through state prosecutors. The penalties for federal convictions are generally more severe than those applied by Illinois state courts.

Suppose you have been charged with a federal crime or are under investigation by a federal agency, such as the FBI or CIA. In that case, you will need legal representation from someone with years of experience defending federal cases. You need an Illinois federal criminal defense attorney who broadly understands the federal court system.

Common State Criminal Charges

There are many state criminal charges in Illinois. In fact, most crimes are state crimes. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Drug crimes
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
  • Domestic violence
  • Theft

Common Federal Crimes

Some federal criminal charges are the same as state charges. Whether or not you’re charged with a federal or state crime can depend on the location of the crime.

If someone commits a crime on federal property or in multiple states, it will usually be classified as a federal crime. For instance, an assault generally falls under state laws. However, if you are charged with assaulting someone in a national park, you will face federal charges as you committed the crime on federal property. Suppose someone robs a bank whose deposits are insured by a federal agency. In that case, the government may pursue federal charges.

Some of the most common federal criminal cases involve:

Other Differences in State vs. Federal Charges

The differences between state and federal charges don’t end here. At the state level, the district court has jurisdiction instead of the federal court. Crimes are investigated by local and sometimes state police. Governmental agencies like the DEA or FBI are in charge of investigations for federal charges. Judges presiding over state crimes are appointed by the governor and subject to election. In contrast, federal judges are appointed for life by the POTUS and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges? Contact a Seasoned Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Whether you face state or federal charges, you want to be sure that your attorney is knowledgeable and experienced. If you are charged at the federal level, you will want an Illinois federal defense lawyer on your side as the stakes are often higher. You will find these attorneys at Tess, Crull & Arnquist.  To schedule a private legal consultation, call 815-562-8754 or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.