Skip to Content

State vs. Federal Crimes


In the United States, we have state courts and federal courts and hence state laws and federal laws. Federal laws are established by Congress, whereas state laws are established by state legislatures.

State courts have broad jurisdiction, so the majority of criminal cases are tried in state court. For example, citizens accused of robbery, sexual assault, drug possession or sales, and domestic violence are typically prosecuted in state court.

There are offenses that are only criminalized underfederal law; these offenses are tried in federal court due to the fact that the state court does not have jurisdiction. Examples of federal crimes, include but are not limited to:

  • Extortion
  • Perjury
  • Impersonation
  • Kidnapping
  • Embezzlement
  • Antitrust violations
  • Bank burglary
  • Bank fraud
  • Crimes aboard an aircraft
  • Fraud against the government
  • Sexual exploitation of children

Some criminal offenses are criminalized under state and federal law. In this case, the state and federal prosecutors must decide whether to prosecute in state or federal court. For example, employment discrimination is prohibited by federal law, but states have enacted their own laws prohibiting the offense.

Difference Between State & Federal Prison

There has been a lot of debate about the differences between the state and federal prisons, and for good reason. Many people feel that federal prisons are nicer and more comfortable than state prisons, and that is because they are.

Federal prisons house inmates who have violated federal laws, many of which are "white collar" crimes committed by educated, white collar professionals. They also house political prisoners and bank robbers.

On the other hand, state prisons house the violent criminals, such as the rapists and murderers. Because of this fact alone, people are justified in their thinking that state prisons are significantly more dangerous than federal prisons.

Despite the fact that state prisons house violent criminals, their security is lower than that of federal prisons – an interesting fact.

Facts about state & federal prisons:

  • There are more state prisons than federal prisons
  • State prisons house violent criminals
  • Federal prisons house political offenders and white collar criminals
  • State prisons are more dangerous due to gangs and hardcore criminals

Are you being accused of a crime that is criminalized under state and federal law? If so, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. to learn more about your charges and whether they're likely to be prosecuted in state or federal court. We provide state and federal criminal defense.

Share To: