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Federal vs. State Criminal Charges

Whether you face charges in state or federal court depends not only on the severity of the offense but also on which laws you are accused of breaking and which law enforcement bodies investigated your case.

Plenty of journalists have made their careers out of provoking outrage against the federal government; if you can turn every bill that does or does not pass in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives into a clickbait headline, you will always have employment income, no matter how bad the economy gets. Despite this, you need only attend an eighth-grade civics class to find out that most of the laws that affect your daily life are state laws. For example, the guidelines for determining alimony vary from one state to another. In Texas, when judges determine the alimony award at trial, the court will not order anyone, no matter how wealthy, to pay more than $5,000 per month in alimony In other states, some wealthy ex-spouses have alimony obligations to the tune of five figures per month, or even more. Likewise, the question “How illegal is cannabis?” yields vastly different answers depending on the state. In criminal cases, the rights of defendants are the same in state and federal court, as are the definitions of the offenses and the maximum possible penalties for a conviction. If you were arrested in the Dallas area and are facing charges in state or criminal court, contact a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

Which Crimes are Always State Crimes?

Misdemeanor cases go through the state criminal courts. It is not that the federal government has no problem with drunk driving and petty theft; rather, arrests for misdemeanors usually take place within the jurisdiction of the state courts. If you were arrested by a local police department, county sheriff’s deputies, or state troopers, then your case will probably go to state court, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.

Which Crimes are Always Federal Crimes?

Crimes investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI or DEA go through federal court. These arrests often arise from grand jury indictments or from search warrants obtained after a detailed federal investigation. Likewise, the federal courts have jurisdiction if the crime took place in more than one state or violated federal laws. Thus, tax fraud cases are always federal because the IRS is a federal agency. Drug trafficking conspiracy cases are also federal if any of the drugs crossed state lines. Because the Internet is not technically located in one state, internet sex crimes and internet financial crimes also tend to be federal cases.

Which Crimes Can Be State or Federal?

In some cases, the court can choose whether to pursue the criminal case at the state or federal level. This often happens with very severe offenses, such as attempted murder or sexual assault of a minor.

Contact the Fort Worth Law Office of Kyle Whitaker About Criminal Defense Cases in Texas

If you are facing charges in state or federal court, you need a criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss your case.