What Crimes Fall Under Federal Jurisdiction?

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Most crimes committed in the U.S. fall under the jurisdiction of whatever state the crime was committed in. However, depending on the type of crime, location,  and/or the severity of it, it may potentially fall under the purview of both the federal and state or just federal jurisdiction alone.

In general, crimes that include aggravated factors, crimes against the government, terrorist crimes,  violations of immigration laws, as well as crimes that cross state lines will be prosecuted by the federal government.

The constitution places limits on federal jurisdiction to ensure that the government does not overstep its boundaries. So, it is rare that federal charges are brought against defendants. However, if they are brought against you, it is imperative that you connect with a proven federal defense attorney like the professionals at the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC. Learn more about the crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction below.

Types of Crimes That Can be Federally Prosecuted

State crimes are prosecuted by the district or state attorney and investigated by a law enforcement agency employed by the state (local police, sheriff, state police, etc.). Federal crimes are prosecuted by the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and investigated by federal agencies such as the DEA, FBI, and other federal officers. Essentially, when the federal government opens an investigation, they have unlimited resources and will usually not prosecute the case unless they have an ironclad case. This is why more than 90% of those charged with federal offenses take a plea bargain and only two percent actually go to court. Listed below are the most common crimes (but not limited too) that fall under federal jurisdiction.

  • Aggravated Crimes: Many crimes that would typically be considered state offenses become federal charges when aggravating factors are applied. Some of those crimes include aggravated sexual assault, assault, battery, fraud, etc.

  • Crimes Against the Government: This can include any crime that is specifically against the government such as an attack on the government, identity theft of a federal official, attempting to (or advocating for) the overthrow of the government, cyberattacks against the government, etc. In addition, any crime committed on federal property that would typically be prosecuted by the state may fall under federal jurisdiction.

  • Terrorism Charges: Any crime that affects another person or group of people through terrorist-related actions or intentions.

  • Intentional Harm Against Federal Officers: Crimes like assault, attempted murder, and murder may be bumped up to federal charges if they are against a federal officer. This can include law enforcement as well as any person that is employed by a federal agency or department.

  • Crimes that Cross State Lines: Any crime that crosses state lines can be prosecuted on the federal level. Examples can include a kidnapper taking their victim(s) across state lines, cybercrimes that cross state lines, as well as fraudulent activities like mail fraud.

  • Violations of Immigration and Customs Laws: Immigration and customs fall under federal jurisdiction, any violation can lead to a date in a federal courtroom.

What to do if You Have Been Charged With a Federal Crime

Being charged with any crime can be scary. That feeling is further amplified when charged with a federal crime. In most cases, if you haven’t taken any action until you are formally charged, it may already be an uphill battle. The moment that you learn the federal government is investigating you is exactly when you should contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. An adept lawyer will explain to you how the federal process works as well as advocate on your behalf to have the charges decreased, dismissed, or potentially lessen the punishment that is levied against you.