How Serious Is a Federal Crime?

Written by on June 25, 2020 in Federal Law with 0 Comments

As the name implies, a federal offense is one that violates federal law. These are the laws of the country and, as such, must be tried not at the state level but at a higher one. A federal offense relates to an act that goes against federally-regulated activities. As a defendant, you will face trial in court under federal prosecution guidelines. Federal crimes will be prosecuted by a United States attorney, and the hearings will be in a United States District Courthouse.

How are federal crimes defined?

In general terms, federal crimes are related to a federal or national issue. However, some types of crime come under both state and federal law and may be prosecuted in state courts, in federal courts, or in both.

Federal crimes are very broadly defined, but it helps to remember that the federal government has jurisdiction over these types of crimes:

  • Those that take place on federal land such as a national park
  • Those that involve federal officers such as an assault against a federal agent
  • Those in which the defendant moves across state lines such as when a victim is transported from one state to another
  • Those that violate immigration laws

What other crimes are considered to be federal?

Other federal crimes include:

  • Mail fraud
  • Aircraft hijacking
  • Carjacking
  • Kidnapping
  • Lynching
  • Bank robbery
  • Child pornography
  • Credit card fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Computer crimes
  • Federal hate crimes
  • Animal cruelty
  • Violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
  • Obscenity
  • Tax evasion
  • Counterfeiting
  • Violations of the Espionage Act
  • Violations of the Patriot Act
  • Illegal wiretapping
  • Electoral fraud
  • Immigration offenses

What agencies are allowed to investigate a federal offense?

To investigate a federal offense, the following agencies have been granted powers:

  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • The Secret Service

What punishments can people face for federal crimes?

In federal crimes, as well as in state ones, the penalties will vary. However, it is generally understood that federal crimes carry harsher mandatory minimum sentences than the same crimes would if committed at the state level. Also, getting sentenced in a federal court means that the guilty party will have to go to federal prison.

When judging a federal crime, judges can refer to federal guidelines that provide 43 levels according to the seriousness of the offense. A high level is associated with an extremely serious crime, such as murder, which receives a higher level than breaking and entering.

Once the base level is determined, additional characteristics of the crime, such as how many people were killed or how much money was taken, are added and these can increase the offense level. Also, if the defendant has a criminal history, if they have been convicted on multiple counts and if they accept or don’t accept their responsibility in committing the crime, it will also play a part in their ultimate sentencing.

Get the Right Legal Assistance

A federal charge is not something you can or should fight on your own. It is also important that the legal help you get should be an experienced, seasoned attorney with ample experience in federal courts. To learn more about your legal options, visit

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