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Federal Crime vs. Felony: What to Expect

September 22, 2020

Being charged with a crime can have serious implications for your future. Understanding the difference between a federal crime and a felony, as well as what to expect in either case, is essential if you’ve been accused of a crime

What Is a Federal Crime?

Federal crimes are crimes that are committed in a federal jurisdiction, or in both a federal or state jurisdiction with charges brought by a federal prosecutor. In cases where a crime is alleged to have occurred in both a federal and state jurisdiction, the case can be tried by both the federal government and the state, or by just one. 

A federal crime is normally seen as more serious than a state crime, but the potential consequences of each crime depend on the alleged crime in question. Some examples of federal crimes might include: 

  • Drug Crimes — The majority of drug crimes, especially minor charges, are handled by state courts. Simple crimes related to possession aren’t typically the subject of federal prosecution. Drug trafficking across state lines, however, is a federal crime. Drug crimes investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will also be tried in federal district court. 
  • Weapons Crimes — Weapons crimes can be escalated to the federal level when certain weapons are illegally taken over state lines or if the crime is investigated by a federal agency. 
  • White Collar Crimes — Such crimes as insider trading, embezzlement, money laundering, and other financial or business-related crimes are normally considered to be federal crimes. 
  • Murder Committed on Federal Land — Murders that are committed in a federal jurisdiction—such as in a national park—can be tried as federal crimes.

Considerations for Felony Crimes

A federal crime can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes, and they usually involve fines or incarceration of less than a year. Felonies, on the other hand, are crimes typically punishable by a year or more of imprisonment. 

Felonies, similar to misdemeanors, are organized on a schedule of degrees that increase in relation to severity. Some examples of felonies could include murder, sexual assault, or felony drug possession. 

Possible Consequences of Federal or Felony Crimes

A federal crime could be either a misdemeanor or felony, and punishments for felonies at the state or federal level will normally be higher than for misdemeanors. Even a class E felony, the least serious, could land you in jail for a maximum of three years. Classes D, C, and B can result in penalties that are more severe and could get you 25 years, depending on the crime in question. 

Finally, a class A felony, which is reserved for the worst crimes, could be punished by life in prison or even the death sentence. If you or a loved one are facing a federal charge, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, a criminal defense lawyer could help. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dallas, Texas

Whether you’re facing a felony at the state or federal level, you’ll need a legal team that can give you a fighting chance. At Chris Lewis & Associates P.C., we’re here to help you. 

Call 214-665-6930 or fill out our form to speak with a criminal defense lawyer at Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. 


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