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What is Difference Between Federal and State Crimes?

Posted on February 15, 2016 in Federal Crimes in Northern KY General Criminal Law Issues - Northern KY

Whether you are charged under a federal crime or state crime often depends on the type of charge or may depend on the agency investigating/charging.

In general, if a city, county or state police investigates and makes the charge or arrest, you will likely be charged with a state crime.

State crimes often include: arson, forgery and possession of forged instruments, murder, receiving stolen property, drug possession and many drug trafficking, sex offenses, .  The large majority of misdemeanor arrests result in state crimes, for example: assault, all traffic and driving offenses, DUI, disorderly conduct, robbery (except bank), prostitution and theft.

If the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service or other federal government agency investigates, you will likely be charged with a federal crime.

Federal crimes include: mail fraud, tax evasion, possession of federally prohibited firearms, counterfeiting, embezzlement, drug trafficking across state lines and generally with significant amounts, hijacking, bank robbery, immigration offenses, and distribution of child pornography across state lines or using internet.

If a DRUG STRIKE FORCE investigates or makes the arrest, you may be charged under local state law OR federal law.

The Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force is comprised of both state and federal officers.  The charges generally depend on the amount of drugs involved, whether the case was a significant trafficker or a low level user and the amount of resources involved.  IF there are significant assets which may be seized, the chances increase of a federal charge.

Sentencing Depends on the Class of Felony and whether federal or state

Using the federal Guidelines Manual and Sentencing Table (PDF), a judge can see recommended sentences that take into account the felony class as well as the defendant’s criminal history. This allows for someone with no criminal history to get a lighter sentence than a career criminal for the identical crime, while still staying within the published guidelines.

States classify felonies in a manner similar to the federal system, although some states have more or fewer classes, and some use number rather than letter classifications. The sentence ranges for each class also vary by state.  In Kentucky, the class of crime determines the range of penalty.  For a class D Felony, the range is 1-5 years and a defendant may receive probation.*  This can be enhanced if the defendant is eligible as PFO for prior felonies.

Both state and federal crimes may subject a defendant to deportation if they are not a US citizen.  Advise your attorney of your immigration status (even if illegal) so that he can consider this factor if you are not a citizen.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a felony, contact an attorney.  For consultation regarding state or federal charges in Northern Kentucky, contact Michael Bouldin at mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453.