What is the Difference Between Federal and State Criminal Charges?
Many crimes, especially those related to drugs and firearms, are violations of both state and federal laws. In those cases, both state and federal prosecutors may file formal charges. Usually, only one or the other will pursue the charges while the other prosecutor waits to see the outcome in order to determine their course of action.
It is important to know that federal criminal charges are much more serious than state charges, as the penalties can be significantly higher. Federal sentencing is based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which usually proscribes a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months for every offense. Fines are also significantly higher, with some felonies carrying penalties of up to $1,000,000.
If you are facing criminal charges that may be pursued in state and federal court, it is important to get a lawyer that knows the ins and outs of the system. If we get started early enough on the case, we may be able to convince the federal prosecutors not to pursue federal charges against you. This can be the difference between a term of state probation or several years in a federal penitentiary.