When a crime is committed, the nature and location of the crime determines whether the case is heard in a state or federal court. Although most offenses are considered state offenses that violate state law, some crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the United States and its federal laws. Understanding whether your case will be tried in a state or a federal court can provide information regarding the potential consequences you may face and the strategies your lawyer may use during your trial.
The majority of criminal prosecutions that occur in the United States today are state prosecutions. A state offense is a crime that violates state laws; these cases are tried in state courts and subject to punishments set forth by each state. In some cases, state punishments are less severe than the punishments associated with federal crimes, and individuals who are convicted will be required to serve 85% of their full sentence. Some of the most common state offenses include robbery, theft, rape, murder, and arson.
While state laws may vary from state to state, federal laws remain consistent throughout the country. Federal offenses involve crimes committed either against the United States or crimes that specifically violate federal laws, as well as certain offenses that take place on federal land or involve federal employees. When defendants enter the United States from Mexico or cross state lines during a crime, they may also be tried in federal court. Some common federal offenses include counterfeiting, immigration or customs violations, federal tax fraud, mail fraud, and interstate trafficking of contraband. Federal offenses typically carry harsher punishments, and individuals who are convicted must typically serve at least 85% of their sentence.
Steven D. West has extensive experience handling criminal cases on both the state and federal level. If you are accused of a crime, the consequences of a conviction can be severe—please call our Tucson law office today at (520) 623-4387 or visit our website for more information about Mr. West’s legal experience and how he can help you protect your freedom and your future.