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Federal Crimes vs. State Crimes

Criminal prosecutions are brought in a variety of jurisdictions: municipal court, county court, state court and federal court.

State court prosecutions are for violations of common crimes such as burglary, robbery, assaults, sex offenses and thefts. Federal prosecutions are for violations of crimes which have been declared by Congress to be federal in nature. These crimes include violations of the tax laws, drug/controlled substances laws, frauds (mail or wire fraud for example), bank robbery, etc. There are many laws which can be prosecuted in either State or Federal court. For example, the robbery of a liquor store can be prosecuted in either state or federal court. For the federal court, there must be an interstate commerce connection. The liquor store owner buys his inventory and it is shipped in interstate commerce. This is enough to grant federal jurisdiction to prosecute the simple liquor store robbery.

Drugs/controlled substances is another area which can be prosecuted in either state or federal court. However, the federal court usually will not bother unless the number of drugs/controlled substances involved reaches multi-kilo amounts or there is a drug trafficking organization involved, such as a cartel.

The federal government presides over the following criminal offenses:

  1. Any criminal offense committed on federal land
  2. Any criminal offense involving federal law enforcement agencies (e.g. FBI, ATF, DEA, etc.)
  3. Any criminal offense that involves more than one state
  4. Any criminal offense that involves immigration and customs violations

In federal prosecutions, the U.S. president appoints federal judges, who must serve the position for life. When it comes to state prosecutions, the governor appoints state court judges, who are subject to re-election.

If you are under investigation or charged for a violation of a federal offense in Colorado, contact the Law Offices of David L. Owen, Jr., P.C. and schedule a free consultation with our federal criminal defense lawyer today.