Differences Between a Federal and a State Case

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you may be wondering whether you need a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa. That is an excellent question to ask yourself. The distinguishing factors between federal crimes and state crimes are complex, so knowledge is power when it comes to this topic.

Type of Crime

From traffic violations to murder, state crime encompasses all actions that violate state laws. The majority of crimes committed fall under the umbrella of state crime.

State crimes include, but are not limited to:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Burglary
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug trafficking
  • False imprisonment
  • Felonies
  • Fraud
  • Grand theft
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Resisting with violence
  • Robbery
  • Sexual battery
  • Stalking
  • Weapons offenses

Federal crimes are specifically outlined federal offenses, including but not limited to:

  • ATM fraud
  • Computer crimes
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit card fraud
  • Damaging or destroying mailboxes
  • Drug possession
  • Drug trafficking
  • Felonies
  • Gun crimes
  • Hate crimes
  • Identity theft
  • Intellectual property rights
  • International money laundering
  • Immigration crimes
  • IRS violations
  • Kidnapping
  • Major thefts
  • Organized crime
  • Public corruption crimes
  • RICO
  • White-collar crime

Felonies, drug trafficking, and certain other crimes can be both state crimes and federal crimes.

If the suspect in a case is of great interest to federal law enforcement, federal authorities will probably invoke the US Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause,” which states that federal law will trump state law. When this occurs, the federal authorities will take over the case.

Geographic Boundaries

Usually, if a crime that isn’t designated as a federal crime occurs in one specific state, it is a state crime. If it crosses state lines, occurs throughout a number of states, or occurs to/on federal property, it typically becomes a federal crime.

Harsh Consequences

If a federal case goes to trial, it will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney instead of a district or state attorney. In the event of a conviction, they will follow federal guidelines. The convict can do jail time in a federal prison instead of a state correctional facility.

Federal cases are no joke. Any case should be taken seriously; however, it is important to realize how much more evidence can be brought against a defendant in a federal case. In a typical state court criminal case, there may be a folder of evidence. Criminal cases, on the other hand, usually involve an all-encompassing investigation, complete with multiple boxes of evidence and discovery.

Since the minority of overall crimes are federal, there are fewer truly experienced federal defense attorneys out there. If you need a federal defense lawyer in Tampa, find one with a proven record of success.

For a free consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa, contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Case Results


The Client was charged with Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance and Felony Possession of a Drug Without a Prescription. Attorney Anthony Rickman convinced the State not to prosecute and the charges were dismissed.
Show More


The Client was charged with Felony Trafficking of Cannabis, Felony Manufacturing of Cannabis, Grand Theft, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after a search warrant uncovered a Marijuana Grow House Operation in his home with over
Show More


The Client was arrested for a DUI in Pinellas County after law enforcement stopped the Client for speeding and subsequently conducted a DUI investigation alleging that the Client was intoxicated. Attorney Anthony Rickman made several
Show More