What Is the Difference Between Federal and State Crimes

If you are ever charged with a crime, there can be major differences based on its designation of a state or federal offense. As a resident of Wisconsin, you not only have to abide by the laws of the state, but also the legalities that are set forth by the United States government.

Federal crimes

A federal crime is an infraction of federal law or legal code that typically involves government agencies. These agencies can include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Border Patrol or even the Secret Service. Federally indicted crimes can include:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Immigration crimes
  • Gun and weapon crimes
  • Organized crime
  • Computer crimes and fraud
  • White-collar crimes

State crimes

Even though laws can differ by state, most of the overall crimes that are committed will be considered a state crime. If there is a crime or several crimes that cross over state lines, it will likely be considered a federal crime. State crimes can include:

Both federal and state systems are different when it comes to prosecution. Each will have different judges, prosecuting attorneys and courthouses. Each even has different guidelines for how they proceed. One of the major differences between the two comes in the form of how long required sentences are. Federal sentences are usually much lengthier than a sentence from a state, even if the crimes were similar. There would also be a difference in where a sentence will be carried out. There are both separate federal and state prisons.

The designation of a state or federal crime can make a significant difference if you are ever charged with a crime. Because federal crimes can carry much longer prison stays with a conviction, you will want to make sure you have experienced representation as you make your way through the criminal justice system.


Have you been charged with a crime? See our Criminal Defense service page for help now.

Have you been charged with a crime? Contact Levine Law.

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