What Crimes Fall Under Federal Jurisdiction?

Most prosecuted crimes are done so on the state level. However, in certain circumstances, crimes break federal laws enacted by Congress, cross state lines, or are escalated. In these cases, crimes may be prosecuted in a federal court. Federal charges are typically reserved for crimes that break federal law or are closely tied to a national issue (i.e. national security, interstate trafficking, mail fraud, etc.). Crimes that break both state and federal law can be prosecuted in either court. In rare cases, it possible that a crime can be pursued at both the state level and the federal level. Those that have been charged with federal crimes typically face stiffer penalties and different prosecutorial procedures. Learn more about the types of crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction below. 

What Are Aggravated Factors?

Many crimes that break state laws can also be federally prosecuted when taking into account aggravating factors. If the state authorities increase the crime to an aggravated level, it can potentially move the case to the federal level after an investigation has taken place. Examples of aggravated crimes include:


  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Battery 
  • Aggravated Identity Theft
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Mail Fraud

Other Types of Crimes That Can Be Federally Prosecuted

Some crimes only break federal laws or are perpetrated against the federal government. In general, there are far fewer federal cases than there are state criminal cases. This is due to the federal government’s inability to pass laws that do not concern federal or national interest. The federal government has jurisdiction over the following types of crimes:


  • Crimes Committed on Federal Property: Just about any crime committed on federal property can fall under federal jurisdiction. This is true of crimes that would otherwise only be prosecuted in state courts. Examples of federal property include buildings that the federal government owns, government housing, certain commercial properties, Native American reservations, etc. 
  • Crimes That Cross State Lines: This can include physical crimes like taking a kidnapping victim from Florida to Lousiana. It can also include crimes committed online such as an internet fraud scheme. 
  • Terrorist Crimes: Though it can fall under state jurisdiction in theory, this is not usually the case. When an individual intentionally seeks to harm a large group of people, it will likely be prosecuted in federal courts. 
  • International Harm: Some crimes can be escalated to a federal offense if the defendant has a clear intention of harming other people. Some examples include armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, assassination attempts, assault against a federal officer, etc. 
  • Immigration Offenses: Acts that violate federal immigration and customs laws also fall under federal jurisdiction. 

What To Do If You Have Been Charged With a Federal Crime

Unlike crimes that are prosecuted on the state level, federal prosecutors have an unlimited amount of resources to pursue a case. They conduct thorough investigations to build a strong case against defendants. This is why the federal conviction rate is an astounding 93 percent. If federal charges have been filed against you, it may already be too late. It is imperative to consult with a federal defense attorney the moment that you are aware of an investigation taking place. Otherwise, you will be facing an uphill battle. If you are unsure of the status of your case, have already been charged, or are under investigation by federal authorities it is recommended that you contact an experienced federal defense lawyer as soon as possible. For more information click here.  


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