Difference Between Federal and State Crimes in Alexandria

While all criminal charges can carry serious consequences and deserve to be treated seriously, federal offenses can be even more severe making it imperative that those charged consult with an Alexandria federal criminal lawyer. The following is information on the difference between these types of charges and how experienced legal representation may benefit you.

Criminal Process For State and Federal Crimes

The criminal process differs between state versus federal crimes because it is procedurally different, the laws are written differently, and often the sentences, potential penalties, and fines are more serious than their state counterparts. Additionally, in state court, the prosecutor can only bring charges against a person that has to do with state law. In federal court, the federal prosecutors can bring charges both for the federal offense and also charges that stem from the underlying state that the federal offense occurred in.

For example, in Virginia, if one was pulled over for reckless driving and the individual happened to be on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is a federal property, then the individual would be charged with reckless driving under the Virginia statute, but would also be charged with speeding under the federal statute. The case would be heard in Eastern District of Virginia because there is a federal component to it and therefore the federal prosecutors would be the ones handling the case.

Under What Circumstances Would a Person Be Charged With a Crime In Both State and Federal Court?

If somebody is charged with the same crime at state and local level, it can be any situation where there is enough evidence to support a violation of the two separate state and federal statutes.

Circumstances That Determine Where a Crime is Charged

Whether a state crime becomes a federal crime is determined by whether the offense touches something federally. If something was originally charged as a state crime and they realized that it falls under a federal law, then they might go ahead and carry it up to Eastern District of Virginia or whatever the local federal court is to go ahead and prosecute an individual there. Anything that would violate not only Virginia law, but also the federal criminal code is handled in federal court.

As soon as federal crimes attached to it, it will go up to federal court. An individual can think about it like this: anything that would cross state line or anything that would be outside of the state’s general jurisdiction would also be heard in federal court. But, if any federal offense is alleged, it must be heard in federal court—even if there is an underlying Virginia state offense with it.

Role Of a Defense Attorney

Attorneys representing a client who is charged with a criminal offense will play the same role that they do when they represent a client charged with a state offense. They will be a zealous advocate, they will research all the facts, they will prepare a robust defense, and they will be able to effectively fight the charges against the client.

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