What is the Difference Between State and Federal Crime?

Americans are used to hearing the words ‘state crime’ and ‘federal crime’ thrown around on the news.  Many do not bat an eye at the differing terms, only passing the terminology off as legal banter, however, it is extremely important to understand the difference between state and federal crime.  State and federal courts are the two types of court systems in the United States and it is in these courts that civil and criminal cases will be handled.

The Differences Between State and Federal Crimes

 The primary difference between state and federal crimes is that a state crime occurs when an individual breaks state law while a federal crime occurs when an individual’s offense breaks federal legal code.  In one way or another, a state’s laws will vary from those of another state, while federal law is uniform across the United States.  In some instances, a crime will be considered both a state and federal crime.  Regardless of what you are being investigated for, it is wise to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before any formal charges are filed.

State Crime

 Different states have different laws.  Most notably, marijuana is legal in certain states while the possession of marijuana remains illegal in other states and at the federal level.  For the most part, the majority of crimes committed fall under the state level.  In the state of Iowa, there were over 70,000 crimes reported at the state level in 2015.  When a state crime goes to trial, the case is prosecuted by the county attorney.  If convicted, an offender will serve his or her sentence in an Iowa state correctional facility or a local county jail.

Federal Crime

A federal crime occurs when an individual commits a violation of federal law.  Most notably, a federal crime occurs when criminal activity crosses state lines or affects interstate commerce.  Common federal crimes include identity theft, drug trafficking, firearms offenses, tax crimes, internet crimes, mail fraud, and immigration offenses.  While state crimes are investigated by local and state law enforcement, federal crimes are investigated by agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  When a federal crime goes to trial, it will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  If a person is convicted of a federal crime, that person will serve a sentence in a federal prison.  There are no federal prisons in the State of Iowa, so the person will be sent to a prison in a different State.

Do You Need Help?

If you have been charged or are being investigated for any crime, it is vital that you get ahead of the situation and contact a criminal defense attorney. Law enforcement will be doing everything in its power to get you to incriminate yourself, thus, it is best to speak with your attorney prior to any potential discussion with law enforcement. If you have questions or are in need of assistance contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz. Do not delay, call 800-450-3140 today to schedule an initial consultation.


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