State vs. Federal Offenses

If you have been arrested for a crime, especially one involving a financially-motivated crime, identity theft, or a fraud-related offense, you may be wondering if you will be facing state or federal charges.

You may not even be sure about the difference between state-level crimes and federal crimes. If you are like a lot of people, you may be wondering, “What is the difference?”

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

State or federal prosecution?

Under the law, some crimes are solely federal offenses; those crimes are prosecuted in Federal District Court. On the other hand, some criminal acts are criminalized under both state and federal law.

When someone commits a crime which violates state and federal law, the state and federal prosecutors must decide whether the defendant will be tried in federal court or state court.

In the U.S., crimes are considered misdemeanors or felonies, with felonies being the more serious of the two. Misdemeanors carry a sentence of one year or less, whereas felonies carry a prison sentence that could result in more than a year, or even life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If an offender is prosecuted in federal court, he or she will face the penalties that have been established by the United States Congress. In contrast, someone who is charged in state court faces penalties that were established by the state legislature.

State vs. Federal Prison: There is a Difference

There has been a debate over the differences between state and federal prisons, namely because federal prisons are considered to be more comfortable, while state prisons are notorious for being more dangerous.

Federal prisons house inmates who have violated federal laws, many of which are nonviolent and involve financially motivated crimes. In effect, the federal prisons tend to house white collar professionals, many of which are highly-educated individuals.

In contrast, the state prisons house inmates who are in for a host of state-level crimes, including drug crimes and violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder, etc.

The state prisons house rival gang members, which makes state prisons more dangerous than federal prisons as far as the inmates’ safety is concerned.

More about state and federal prisons:

  • There are more state prisons than federal prisons.
  • State prisons have lower levels of security than federal prisons.
  • Federal prisons have a high percentage of white collar criminals.
  • State prisons are particularly dangerous because they house violent criminals.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, there are six federal prisons in Florida spanning from Pensacola to Tallahassee, to Orlando and Miami.

As of December 31, 2014, the Florida Department of Corrections was housing over 100,000 inmates in 56 state prisons across the state, including seven prisons that were being privately ran.

FBI and White Collar Crime

One aspect that sets certain federal crimes, namely white collar crimes, apart from state-level crimes is that they are investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – the FBI.

The FBI’s website says that white collar crime involves lying, cheating, and stealing. So, a white collar crime can involve anything from bankruptcy fraud to identity theft, to healthcare fraud, to mortgage fraud, and any dozens of other types of fraudulent schemes.

If you find yourself in the situation where you are facing state or federal charges, you need the best defense representation you can find. At Thomas & Paulk, P.A., we are former felony prosecutors who are licensed to practice in the state and federal courts. We have what it takes to defend you.

For an aggressive defense against state or federal criminal charges, contact our firm without delay!