If you aren’t familiar with the differences between state and federal crimes, now is the time to brush up on some basics.
Federal And State Law
The United States Constitution has a clause called the Supremacy Clause. This provision allows for states to pretty much govern themselves until the point of conflict with federal law. Some crimes fall entirely under the jurisdiction of the federal level because the nature of the crime affects others at the national level.
Other crimes may typically be considered local, but if they transcend into federal jurisdiction, they become federal crimes. One example would be statutory rape. Although that’s usually prosecuted within the boundaries of the state, it becomes federal if the minor is taken across state boundaries because the feds have interstate jurisdiction.
Some areas of crime fall under both federal and state laws. Actually, it’s very common to get caught up in a case with overlapping laws and jurisdictions. Anytime there is conflict or confusion, the case is likely to default to federal jurisdiction, thanks to that Supremacy Clause.
Prosecution And Sentencing
State courts tend to deliver results quickly. A couple hundred pages of prosecuting evidence suffices to deliver a sentence. But take the crime to the federal level, and you’ll be facing a vast pool of resources. Agencies like the FBI and IRS will get in on collecting evidence for the most comprehensive prosecution possible.
State court judges can use a little more discretion in delivering a sentence, while federal ones often are hemmed in with more sentencing guidelines.
Do you know the power you’re up against?