What’s the Difference Between State and Federal Criminal Charges?
States can legally enforce their own state laws, but many overlap with federal laws. For example, when it comes to the manufacturing of drugs it is illegal under both federal and state law. Overall, if a federal law is broken, the penalties are far more severe than when a state law is broken and a period in prison is more likely to be imposed.
Because many crimes are considered illegal at both the federal and state level the federal government normally defers to the particular state in certain situations. In the end, there are more prosecutions at state than federal level. In some areas, though, the federal government may exercise its prosecution rights even if the particular state appears to have jurisdiction over that defendant.
Of great concern to some is the fact that a person can be prosecuted by both the federal and state government for the same offense or even in some cases by two different states. Although it is true that a person cannot be tried for exactly the same offence twice by the same “sovereign,” an individual could be prosecuted by different government bodies, which could be either two completely different states or state versus. This is called “dual sovereignty.”
A famous dual sovereignty example in action is the prosecution of Michael Vick. Vick ended up being convicted for his ownership of a dog fighting concern that was quite illegal. First of all, Vick was prosecuted in the federal court where he was handed out a punishment of 23 months in prison. He was later prosecuted at the state level for the same offense in the Virginia court.
Vick’s attorneys fought the state penalty based on the fact that Vick had admitted being guilty in the federal court. The state prosecutor argued successfully that double jeopardy couldn’t be applied, as Vick was actually not tried twice for exactly the same offense in exactly the same jurisdiction.
The U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to do their own governing but when there is concern about the nation’s welfare, federal law overrides state law. This comes under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Sometimes some aspects of criminal law are occupied concurrently by both federal and state laws. However, a state statute that happens to contradict a federal law is likely to be ruled as “unconstitutional” by federal judges and so is nullified.
The Feds could also exclusively regulate certain areas of criminal law. One example is when counterfeiting of cash is taking place. It doesn’t take much to work out that chaos could follow if individual states were permitted to issue and regulate their own money.
The federal clause on Interstate Commerce often gives the Feds a criminal jurisdiction. This clause provides the Feds with sole power to govern all interstate business matters, like TV, telephone, U.S. Mail trucking and air travel. This is the reason that taking part in sex with someone classified as a minor is classified as a federal crime once that person transits a state line.
Additional areas of criminal law which will invoke a federal jurisdiction include the military, national security, the Post Office and entitlement programs for federal benefits. Graffiti is classified as a local crime, unless the building housing the Post Office is a victim. Similarly, if you are caught for tax evasion or fraud, deliberately avoiding being drafted into the military, entering a National Guard armory illegally, entering the country illegally or returning after being deported or even committing Welfare Fraud you could find yourself in the Federal Court.
If you are facing prosecution for a crime in Florida, whether it’s by the state or the Feds, you should consult Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you can follow Miami Criminal Attorney Albert M. Quirantes on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.