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What's the Difference Between a Federal & State Crime?


Being charged with a crime can be a very confusing experience. Adding to that confusion, you may hear that you are being charged with a state or federal crime. While some people might think the difference between these is the severity (similar to a misdemeanor vs. a felony), the real difference is in the jurisdiction where a crime allegedly happened.

What Is a Federal Crime?

A federal crime is an offense that is prohibited by the United States Code, which is a set of laws established by Congress. All federal misdemeanors and felonies are prosecuted in the federal court system, but they aren’t necessarily more severe than their state crime counterparts. That said, many federal crimes – particularly felonies – carry serious penalties, and people sentenced to jail or prison are sent to facilities operated by the federal government.

Some common examples of federal crimes include counterfeiting, tax evasion, bank robbery, fraud, and drug trafficking. The federal government may have jurisdiction over one of these alleged crimes because they directly violate a federal statute or involve a matter that falls within the federal government’s jurisdiction, such as a crime occurring on federally owned land or across state lines.

What Is a State Crime?

State crimes are illegal acts that violate laws enacted by the government of a particular state and occur within that state’s jurisdiction. They can include both felonies and misdemeanors, which are classified according to their severity. Examples of state crimes include murder, theft, fraud, assault and battery, drug possession or trafficking, and driving under the influence.

Depending on where you live in the U.S., the laws regarding state crimes may vary from one state to another. For example, marijuana possession is illegal in Texas but not in California, and permitless open carry is illegal in California but not in Texas. This demonstrates the importance of familiarizing yourself with Texas’s specific laws in order to protect your freedom.

We Can Help If You’ve Been Charged with a Crime

At The Alband Law Firm, we understand that being accused of a crime is an overwhelming experience and our team is here to provide the legal counsel and support you need. Our lawyers have many years of combined experience defending clients against state and federal criminal charges, from drug offenses and white-collar crimes to violent felonies.

We use all available resources to create a solid defense strategy tailored to your case. No matter how bleak your situation may seem, our team at The Alband Law Firm will do everything we can to help you get the best possible outcome.

Contact us today to start building your defense case. We look forward to helping you fight for justice.