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Federal vs. State Charges in Texas

March 3, 2020

Have you been charged with a crime in Texas? You might be unsure what type of crime you’ve been charged with or whether it’s a state or federal crime. It’s important to understand criminal charges in Texas so you can know how to face them (or, hopefully, avoid them). 

State charges have to do with laws that the state of Texas has implemented. If you violate one of Texas’ laws, you could be charged with a crime. You don’t have to be a resident of Texas to be charged with a crime in Texas.

Federal charges concern laws enacted by the U.S. Congress. These laws apply to all citizens of the U.S., no matter what state you live in. Federal crimes often concern illegal behavior that crosses borders. For example, a drug trafficker transporting drugs across state lines.

Are the Penalties Different for Federal vs. State Charges?

Yes, penalties are different depending on whether you’ve been charged with a state crime or a federal crime. You could be convicted of a state drug crime and receive a few years in jail as punishment. If you receive a federal drug conviction, you could spend time in federal prison. 

Penalties range greatly, depending on the type of offense you committed and whether the crime was at the state or federal level. It’s best to talk to a Texas criminal defense lawyer to find out what types of penalties you’re facing.

The Court Process

The court process for state and federal crimes is fairly similar. You have rights no matter which court you enter. If you are charged with a federal crime, your case will go to a federal court. If you are charged with a state crime, your case could go to a municipal court, district court, or county court.

The process for federal and state charges follows these basic steps:

  • Investigation and charge
  • Initial appearance
  • Pre-trial hearings
  • Plea agreement (if applicable)
  • Trial
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal (if applicable)

Can You Fight Your Charges?

Whether you’ve been charged with a federal offense or a state offense, you always have the option of fighting your charge. Your lawyer can build a defense and work to keep a conviction off your record. 

If you sign a plea agreement, you are admitting guilt. That crime will go on your criminal record to stay. You should always think carefully before giving up your right to a trial. You should talk to your lawyer before ever signing a plea agreement.

Call a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer

Thinking about fighting your charges? You don’t have to fight alone. You can get help with building your defense. You could get your charges dropped or you could be acquitted of the crime you’ve been charged with. It’s important to have legal assistance when facing serious criminal charges.

Speak to a Texas criminal defense attorney at Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. to begin working on your defense. Call 214-665-6930 or send in the internet contact form at the bottom of this page.


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