Clients who are defended by a law firm in Brownsville Texas against criminal charges find themselves in either state or federal Court. How each of these types of cases are heard and judged is slightly different based on what type of crime has been committed. Frequently based on either severity or location, it may seem an easy differentiation between the two classifications when in reality, there is quite a bit of overlap, especially involving certain types of crime. Classification will affect the type of penalties that can be assessed and in cases that end with incarceration, which facilities will house the convicted person.

State vs. Federal Offenses

There is often no easy way to determine if a particular charge will be brought in state Court or Federal Court.  A law firm in Brownsville TX often looks at the agency that is investigating a crime to differentiate between state and federal infractions. The modern trend is for state and federal agencies to combine their efforts in what is known as a task force. It is not uncommon for state agencies to be investigating federal crimes and vice versa.

Federal Offenses – A Closer Look

Some crimes are classified at a federal level if state lines were crossed during the alleged action or it can be assumed that boundaries were crossed at some time or another, although the cross of a state line is not a mandatory prerequisite. The use of telephone lines, e-mail, roadways, mail or “the stream of commerce” can trigger federal jurisdiction. Events that are charged and heard as federal offenses include: business and commerce-related infractions; child custody involving kidnapping; gun smuggling; and certain drug offenses. Tax evasion and other financial offenses can be classified at the federal level as well as: destruction of federal property (including personal and municipal mailboxes and other postal service equipment), mail fraud, money laundering, child pornography, copyright offenses, and many other criminal acts that appear to have happened beyond just in a local area.

A criminal defense attorney with a law firm in Brownsville Texas also advises that any state offense committed on federal property can be charged as a federal criminal action. This would include a criminal act in or around a federal building, on federally-owned park lands, or on an Indian reservation.

Crime and The Internet

The internet adds a whole new page to the law books on the classification of different crimes, since it is a type of media that is essentially viewable worldwide. Cyber crimes like hacking and e-commerce issues are also assumed to occur on a federal level, maybe even internationally. Additionally, copyright fraud, cyber-theft, impersonation, and other offenses typically seen online only are usually labeled as federal crimes.

Basically, any crime that is committed that can affect laws across state boundaries as opposed to within them or an action that is obviously in breach of national law as opposed to state or local ones is considered a federal offense. It may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony which must be determined by a criminal defense attorney with a law firm in Brownsville Texas in order to build an effective defense. Federal criminal acts will be charged and tried as such – and face appropriate federal sentences as well. So knowing whether a crime is considered local, state, or federal in nature will undoubtedly need the expertise of a federal criminal defense lawyer for a successful outcome!

Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
(956) 202-0067

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