What Makes a Crime a Federal Offense?
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Federal crimes involve conduct that, for various reasons, proceeds through the U.S. court system instead of being governed by North Carolina criminal laws. The distinction is important, since the process is much more complicated if you’re facing charges for a federal offense. Plus, the potential penalties for a conviction are more considerable, including longer periods of incarceration and higher fines. However, there’s a much longer, more detailed answer of what constitutes a federal crime. The determination depends on the alleged act itself, locations of the offense, and many other factors.
When you’re up against prosecutors of the U.S. government who are backed by sizeable financial resources, you can see the need for retaining highly skilled legal counsel. Our defense attorneys at Randall & Stump, PLLC are board-certified in federal criminal law, an honor granted to professionals who have significant experience and success in the courtroom.
Violation of Federal Law
Just as North Carolina’s General Statutes includes information on criminal acts, the federal government has enacted a section on Crimes and Criminal Procedure within the U.S. Code. There are numerous chapters within Title 18, ranging from offenses against property, individuals, crimes threatening the United States as a nation, and many more. Some of the more common types of federal offenses include:
- Crimes involving use of a firearm
- Possession of a gun in violation of federal law
- A wide range of conduct constituting fraud
- Homicide and manslaughter
- Actions prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
In addition, some federal offenses fall under other sections of the U.S. Code. For instance, all crimes involving possession, trafficking, and manufacturing of controlled substances are defined within Title 21 on Food and Drugs.
Crimes on Federal Property
In some cases, a crime is federal in nature because of the location. Under such circumstances, the activity could be a violation of state or federal law; however, because a person committed it on federal property, the case is federal in nature. One of the most common is a violation of drunk driving laws in such areas as:
- A military base
- A national park or historic site
- The parking lot of a federal building
- Other properties under the control of the federal government
Investigations by the Federal Government
You may be familiar with state and local agencies, such as the North Carolina Department of Law Enforcement, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, and Charlotte Police Department. The U.S. government has similar counterparts that are tasked with investigating crimes and arresting suspects. If certain federal agencies head up the case, the offense could be charged as a federal crime. Examples include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and others.
Criminal Activity Crossing State Lines
There are some offenses that would always fall under state jurisdiction when criminal conduct occurs entirely within North Carolina. When the conduct spans or touches on more than one U.S. state, the criminal activity may be charged as a federal crime. Keep in mind that you don’t have to physically be present in another state. Your conduct to lead to federal charges if it extends outside North Carolina through:
- The mail
- Telephone lines, including calls and faxes
- Use of other telecommunications networks, primarily the internet
- Transactions conducted via banks and financial institutions.
Trust a Federal Defense Attorney to Assist with Your Case
If you’ve been charged with any type of federal offense, you’re facing a criminal process that’s even more complex than state law. It’s a mistake to try and represent yourself, so rely on our lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC to tackle the legal challenges.