State vs Federal Crimes: Can Your Past Follow You Around?

State vs Federal Crimes Can Your Past Follow You Around from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

The vast majority of crimes are prosecuted by the state for violations of state law. However, Congress defines and penalizes conduct that constitutes crimes at the federal level, just as state lawmakers do at the state level. Now, this begs the question;

Are state and federal crimes connected, and can they follow you from one state to another? It’s an important question that affects everything from your relationships to the jobs you can get, so let’s explore what the terms mean and how the law affects you.

Firstly, note that federal criminal laws must be linked to a federal or national concern, such as 

  • contraband trafficking across states
  • tax fraud
  • Fraud relating to the postal service
  • Terrorism attacks
  • Any crimes on federal land

Some offenses are only punishable under federal law. However, several criminal acts, such as bank robbery and kidnapping, are felonies that can be prosecuted in either federal or state court.

Looking into the Jurisdiction of the United States

There are fewer types of federal crimes because, unlike state legislators, they can pass almost any law (subject to judicial review for constitutionality). In this case, federal legislators can only adopt laws where a federal or national interest is at stake. 

For example, counterfeiting US currency is a federal crime. This is because it’s the federal government’s responsibility to print money and handle everything legally. You should now begin to understand the difference between the two.

However, in reality, the term “federal interest” is used quite loosely. The following offenses are under the jurisdiction of the federal government:

  • A murder in a national forest or within an Indian reservation
  • theft of military installations
  • an assault on a DEA agent 

These are all examples of crimes that take place on federal land or involve government personnel.

Federal tax, Medicaid, or federal loan fraud are other examples of crimes against the federal government or a corresponding agency.

The Differences Between State and Federal Procedure 

The differences between state and federal criminal prosecutions are quite plenty, making them fairly easy to distinguish.

Federal judges are appointed for life, whereas state court judges, including those chosen by the governor, must run for re-election regularly. Assistant United States Attorneys prosecute federal offenses, and federal officers such as FBI, DEA, and ICE agents investigate them. 

On the other hand, state crimes are investigated by agents like county sheriffs or local police officers and are prosecuted by state district attorneys or city lawyers. As a general rule, matters in federal court take longer to resolve because there are considerably fewer federal charges.

Obtaining Legal Counsel

When you are charged with a crime, you need a sex crimes attorney, or whatever crime you’ve been convicted or accused of, who has experience defending similar cases in the same court where you are charged. An attorney can assist you in navigating the criminal justice system and obtaining the best possible conclusion in your case, whether you are in state or federal court.


You should see a criminal defense counsel if you have been charged with or are under investigation for a federal or state offense. Because the regulations that apply in federal court are quite different from those that apply in state court, it is critical to see an attorney who has expertise representing persons in federal court. If you’re not sure which applies to you, then make finding out the first thing you do.

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