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Tennessee General Law Blog

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What is the Difference Between State & Federal Crimes?

State and federal crimes might appear similar on the surface. However, there are several differences between the two that can significantly impact your case. At the Law Offices of Burch, Morrison, & Stewart, we have more than 20 years of experience defending clients. We deeply understand the differences between state and federal crimes, and we’ll use that knowledge to your advantage.

Critical Differences Between State and Federal Crimes

Understanding the distinction between state and federal crimes is crucial to dealing with the complexities of the legal system. While both involve violations of the law, they differ in jurisdiction, prosecution, and penalties.

State Crimes

Penalties for state crimes vary depending on the offense’s severity and the specific state’s laws. Misdemeanors typically result in fines, probation, or short jail sentences, while felonies can lead to lengthy prison terms, substantial fines, and even capital punishment in some states.

Federal Crimes

On the other hand, federal crimes violate laws established by the United States government and are prosecuted by federal authorities, typically through agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Federal crimes often involve activities that cross state lines or have a significant impact on interstate commerce, such as drug trafficking, bank robbery, or immigration offenses. Penalties for federal crimes can be severe, with lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, and asset forfeiture as common consequences.

Prosecuting State and Federal Crimes

One of the main differences between state and federal crimes lies in the jurisdiction of the prosecuting authorities. 

State prosecutors handle cases that violate state laws within their respective jurisdictions, while federal prosecutors have jurisdiction over offenses that violate federal laws or occur on federal property. This means that a crime can be prosecuted at the state level, the federal level, or both, depending on the nature of the offense and the involvement of federal interests.

Federal criminal cases occur in federal courts, which follow federal laws and procedures. Federal courts also tend to have stricter sentencing guidelines and fewer opportunities for parole or early release than state courts.

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

A knowledgeable attorney with Burch, Morrison, & Stewart can provide invaluable assistance in helping you deal with the complications of your case, build a strong defense, and protect your rights.

In cases involving state crimes, we can use our understanding of state laws and procedures to advocate for the best possible outcome. We may, for instance, negotiate a plea bargain, challenge evidence obtained through unlawful means, or present mitigating factors to reduce the severity of penalties.

Similarly, in cases involving federal crimes, our experience in federal court allows us to provide effective representation at every stage of the legal process. This representation may include conducting thorough investigations, filing pretrial motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges, and mounting a compelling defense at trial.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorneys

Whether you’re facing charges related to state or federal crimes, the attorneys with Burch, Morrison, & Stewart are ready to help provide the most effective defense possible. Schedule a consultation by calling (931) 954-1066 or contacting us online.

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