The difference between these types of crime is pretty simple—with few exceptions, a state crime is any crime which violates state laws, statutes or ordinances, while a federal crime violates any statute which has been passed by Congress or occurs on federal property. However, a great deal of confusion can occur as many of these laws overlap, and the interpretation of certain federal laws can be very broad.
State Courts v. Federal Courts
State courts are able to hear nearly any case, with the exception of certain federal crimes and lawsuits against the federal government. As a result, the large majority of cases are tried in state court, even when a federal agency such as the FBI is involved in the investigation. Recent estimates from the Federal Judicial Center claim that roughly 30,000,000 cases are filed in state courts annually.
Federal courts, on the other hand, can only hear cases which involve federal laws, name the United States as a party, or are between citizens of different states (with specific conditions). Additionally, if a state law is brought into question, a federal court must rule on its constitutionality. The estimates on annual federal fillings are just 1/30th of state courts, with roughly 1,000,000 new cases per year.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can defend you in both Federal and State courts. Call our firm today at (310) 904-6331.
How Does Interstate Commerce Affect This?
As a result of the interpretation in several landmark Supreme Court rulings, the federal government has fairly broad powers to regulate interstate commerce. What does this mean? Many crimes that would normally be considered state crimes can be prosecuted federally under certain conditions. For example, the theft of $5,000 worth of electronics in California would be a state crime. However, if the goods are transported to Nevada, the case can be tried federally, where prosecutors will attempt to prove that you knew the goods were stolen. Infamously, Michael Vick was charged in both state and federal courts, as his dog-fighting enterprise operated in multiple states.
Facing Federal Charges? Our Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Can Help
Due to the complex and overlapping nature of federal and state crimes, it's vitally important to hire a criminal defense attorney who understands how to build an effective legal strategy. The consequences for federal crimes can often be far more severe than their state equivalents, and they can impact you for the rest of your life.
Don't trust your defense to just anyone—call the experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Decio Rangel, Jr. for reliable representation.