The Differences Between Federal Crimes and State Crimes

Recent Posts



The primary difference between state and federal crimes is that a state crime occurs when someone violates state law. In contrast, a federal crime occurs when someone violates the federal legal code. In some respect, a state’s laws will differ from those of another state, whereas federal law is uniform throughout the United States. In some cases, a crime will be classified as both a state and a federal offense.

Another significant difference between federal crimes and state crimes is where they are prosecuted. For example, federal criminal proceedings are held in a different courthouse than state criminal proceedings, and federal criminal proceedings are presided over by federal judges. Federal criminal court procedures can be complicated, and they frequently involve multiple federal agencies.

Federal Crimes

When an individual violates federal law, they commit a federal crime. Most notably, a federal crime is committed when criminal activity crosses state lines or impacts interstate commerce. While local and state law enforcement investigates state crimes, federal law enforcement investigates federal crimes through agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When a federal crime goes to trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute it. If a person is convicted of a federal crime, they will be sentenced to federal prison.

Examples of Federal Crimes

As an experienced Northeast Ohio criminal defense attorney, Matthew Bangerter represents clients in all types of federal and state criminal cases. Some of the types of federal crimes include:

  • Drug crimes, including trafficking or importation, drug conspiracy, and drug manufacturing
  • Internet crimes
  • Mail fraud
  • Parole violations
  • Sex crimes
  • Tax crimes
  • Violent crimes, including weapons charges
  • White-collar crimes, including embezzlement, forgery, bribery, corruption, money laundering, fraud, and conspiracy
  • Wire fraud

Ohio State Crimes

When a person violates the state’s statutes as set forth in the Ohio Revised Codes and Ohio Administration Codes, the offense becomes a state crime in Ohio. These are crimes committed both within and against the state of Ohio.

Examples of Ohio State Crimes

Some of the types of Ohio state crimes include:

  • Armed robbery
  • Arson
  • Assault and battery
  • Burglary
  • Drug possession and peddling
  • Fraud
  • Grand theft auto
  • Kidnapping and extortion
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Reckless homicide
  • Sex Crimes

An offense may be classified as both a federal and a state crime in a few cases. Without violating the double jeopardy clause, such crimes are prosecuted in both federal and state courts. This occurs when certain crimes violate both state and federal laws.

How Do State and Federal Courts Systems Differ?

Federal crimes are tried in federal courts, while state crimes are tried in state courts. Though the prosecution processes are similar, these courts have distinct differences in their legal systems. These distinctions can be seen in court levels, jurisdictions, and criminal justice procedures.

Cases in federal courts are prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney or an Assistant U.S. Attorney, whereas cases in state courts are prosecuted by a state, district, or city attorney. Federal judges are appointed, whereas state judges can be appointed or elected.

Jail vs. Prison

Although many people use the terms “jail” and “prison” interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two.

Jails are typically run by a local government, usually a county government, and are used to hold people awaiting trial or for shorter sentences of incarceration after a criminal conviction. Prisons are typically run by a state’s corrections department or, in the case of federal crimes, the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Charged With a Criminal Offense?

It is vital to hire a criminal law attorney as soon as possible if you have been charged with a criminal offense. Having an experienced criminal law attorney represent you may help your case and reduce or dismiss the charges against you. The Bangerter Law Office will be able to advise and guide you throughout any criminal proceedings that may arise from your criminal charge.

Improperly Convicted of a State or Federal Felony? Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew C. Bangerter Can Help

Every day we meet with clients who have been wrongly accused. Some clients have even suffered jail time. Any felony is a serious charge and has the potential to ruin the rest of your life. You need an ally, someone who can fight for you. As a former prosecutor, Ohio criminal defense attorney, Matthew Bangerter, at The Bangerter Law Office brings extensive experience in criminal defense and knowledge of the strategies employed by the prosecution team.

What does this mean for you and your case? You can work directly with your criminal defense lawyer to develop a comprehensive criminal defense strategy with your best interests in mind. If you’ve been improperly convicted of a state or federal felony, don’t wait to get help. Contact The Bangerter Law Office here or call (440) 340-1740 to schedule a consultation.


Copyright© 2021. The Bangerter Law Office. All rights reserved.


The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

The Bangerter Law Office
4124 Erie St
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 340-1740