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What’s The Difference Between A State Crime and A Federal Crime?

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Criminal Charges |

Illegal acts come in a variety of different situations and severities. Crimes can range from murder to theft, drug use, rape, assault, or forgery to name a few. Depending on where the crime takes place and the type of crime it is, you could be charged by the state (in this case Florida) or by the federal government if the crime meets certain criteria.

The specific details of the crime like where it happened or if states lines were crossed are just some of the deciding factors in whether or not the crime is considered a state crime or a federal crime.

Illegal Acts That Are Always Considered Federal Crimes

Typically when someone is charged for a crime they are charged on a state level, but there are some crimes that are automatically considered to be federal jurisdiction. This means that the person who is charged for the crime will be charged under federal law and will go through the system via federal court.

Some of these crimes include:

  • Crimes that occur on government land like at a national park
  • Crimes that happen on an Indian reservation
  • Kidnapping that crosses state lines
  • Stolen vehicles that cross state lines
  • Robbing a bank insured by FDIC
  • Crimes against federal law enforcement
  • Counterfeiting American currency
  • Crimes that violate federal law like tax evasion

It’s Possible To Be Charged For Both A State and Federal Crime

Often state and federal charges can overlap. While the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution states that you one can’t be charged with the same crime twice, the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine says, “that more than one sovereign (as a state government and the federal government) may prosecute an individual without violating the prohibition against double jeopardy if the individual’s act breaks the laws of each sovereignty.” This means that if a crime breaks both state and federal laws, it’s possible to be tried under both courts.

If you or someone you know if being charged with a crime on either a state or a federal level, it’s wise to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Russell Spatz has over three decades of experience in Florida with all types of criminal charges. Give his law firm a call today at 305-442-0200 to see how he can help assist you with legal advice today.


Dual Sovereignty Doctrine. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Schwartzbach, M. (2016, August 26). State vs. Federal Prosecution. Retrieved from

What is the difference between federal crime and state crime? (n.d.). Retrieved from

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