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Are the Criminal Processes the Same for Federal and State Offenses?

Are the Criminal Processes the Same for Federal and State Offenses?

The laws governing individuals’ rights can fall under federal jurisdiction, state jurisdiction, or both. Federal and state courts have different processes for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed under their laws.

What Are Federal and State Crimes?

Federal crimes are those that violate federal law, crimes committed on federal property, or crimes that cross state lines. Such crimes can include fraud, impersonation, kidnapping, narcotics violations, or sabotage.

State crimes, on the other hand, violate statutes established by the state. These types of crimes can include domestic violence, sex crimes, theft, assault, or drug possession.

While some offenses can break either federal laws or state laws, others violate both. When an individual commits a crime that falls under both federal and state jurisdiction, the U.S. Attorney will work with local law enforcement and prosecutors to determine if the individual should be tried in state or federal court.

They might also decide that the case should be heard in both federal and state court. This might seem unfair, as it appears to violate the double jeopardy clause, asking for the person to be tried for the same crime twice. However, because different government agencies are hearing the case, this rule does not apply.

Who Investigates the Crimes?

Federal crimes are investigated by agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, IRS, or the U.S. Secret Service. These agencies spend a great deal of time reviewing the case and gathering evidence before notifying the individual that they are being charged with a federal crime.

State crimes are investigated by police, state agents, or county sheriffs. For some state-level offenses, the individual may be arrested right after the alleged crime occurred and know shortly after that they are being charged. 

Where Are Federal and State Crimes Tried?

After the individual has been charged, their case will be tried in a U.S. District Court if the crime violated federal laws.

In Nevada, offenses that violate state laws are tried in a municipal or judicial court.

Who Are the Players?

In a federal case, a District Court Judge presides over the proceedings, and a grand jury makes the determination. A U.S. Attorney prosecutes the case.

For state crimes, the case will be presented in front of a state or municipal judge and/or a state jury. A district or state attorney will prosecute the case.

How Do Penalties Differ?

The penalties for federal crimes are generally much harsher than those for state crimes, with longer imprisonment sentences and heftier fines. An individual convicted of a federal crime may be sentenced to time in federal prison and pay a fine.

State crime convictions may result in the individual spending time in a Nevada state prison and/or being subject to a fine.

Call The Draskovich Law Group to Discuss Your Case

Whether you have been charged with a federal or state crime, it is imperative to seek legal help from a skilled attorney. At The Draskovich Law Group, we have over 25 years of combined experience handling both federal and state crimes, and we are familiar with the processes at both levels. Our attorneys can provide the fierce legal representation you need throughout your case.

Call us at (702) 381-6590 or contact us online. Your initial case consultation is free.


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