When Spokane residents read or tune in to the local news, they may sometimes hear that a person has been arrested on federal charges. Even if a person is completely unfamiliar with the court system, he or she is likely to know that facing federal charges is a very serious matter. A criminal offense may be a violation of state law or it may violate federal law -- what types of crimes are considered federal offenses?
First, the majority of crimes that people are charged with every day in Washington State are violations of state law. Thus, these cases are tried in state courts. In fact, the only types of cases that are generally not heard in state courts are either specific violations of federal laws or cases in which the United States is a party, among a few others.
Cases that involve a violation of federal law may only be heard in federal court. Examples of federal crimes include offense that contain an element of a federal agency, such as using the U.S. mail system to execute a scam. Another type of federal crime might be an offense that crosses state lines, such as running a drug trafficking operation through different states and across the U.S. border with another country. A federal crime might also have to do with location -- for instance, an offense that is committed on federal property might be a federal offense simply due to geography.
While most crimes are tried in state courts, there are still a wide variety of federal crimes. Additional examples of these types of serious charges include certain offenses that involve exploiting children, computer fraud, forgery and more. If a person is charged with a federal crime, they may need extensive legal help as soon as possible. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can help.
Source: , "Federal vs. State Courts - Key Differences," accessed Sept. 15, 2016