If you have recently been accused of criminal wrongdoing, you likely have many questions about the legal process you’re currently facing. One of the most fundamental questions that you’ll need to be answered is whether you’re facing state criminal charges, federal criminal charges or both. The answer to this question will inform the nature of the road you’re now traveling.
It is important to understand that state prosecution and federal prosecution are distinct processes. Federal and state charges are both filed and prosecuted in different courts. With that said, if alleged conduct violates both federal and state law, someone may be prosecuted in federal and state court simultaneously.
Similarities and differences
In a nutshell, state prosecutors file charges in state court when state law has been violated. Federal prosecutors file charges in federal court when federal law has been violated. If a defendant is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for their alleged wrongdoing, they will be housed in a state facility if they have been convicted of state crimes. They will be housed in a federal facility if they have been convicted of federal crimes.
There is a myth that federal crimes are always more serious than state crimes. This is not true. If you’re convicted of a violent crime at the state level, you’re going to face consequences that are far more severe than you would if you were convicted of a non-violent federal misdemeanor. With that said, being convicted of any crime in any jurisdiction can result in life-changing consequences, so it is important to treat your situation with the seriousness and urgency that it deserves.
Thankfully, you remain entitled to numerous protections under the law, regardless of whether you are facing state or federal prosecution. Understanding your rights and options will help to ensure that you’re able to pursue a favorable outcome to your situation if one is possible under the circumstances.