State vs. Federal Crimes Explained

Criminal defense advocacy for residents of Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Greeneville, Pigeon Forge and the Tri-Cities

Anyone in Tennessee can be charged with a federal crime or a state crime. Sometimes, clients are charged with both a federal and a state crime for the same criminal activity. Both federal and state criminal charges can lead to lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines and courts costs, and criminal forfeiture of assets. Convictions of either federal or state crimes can cause you to lose a job and severely damage your reputation. Some of the factors that determine whether a federal or state complaint is brought are where the crime occurred, whether federal property was involved, and the nature of the crime. If you have been charged with a state or federal crime, or both, enlist the support of a Sevierville criminal defense attorney.

Delius & McKenzie, PLLC in Sevierville understands that all criminal charges are frightening. It is crucial to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even a short delay can severely damage your case. Statements given without legal counsel may be used against you. Crucial evidence may be lost. Witnesses may leave. The Sevierville federal and state defense attorneys at our firm have the experience criminal defendants need. Delius & McKenzie, PLLC has been providing strong counsel for defendants in Sevierville, Bristol, Gatlinburg, Seymour, Kingsport, Greeneville, Johnson City, and Pigeon Forge and Eastern Tennessee for more than twenty years.

How federal and state crimes differ

There are many similarities between federal and state crimes. Both require and understanding of a defendant’s Constitutional rights. Both require knowledge of how prosecutors conduct their investigations, what arguments prosecutors use, and both require the skills to try a case before a jury of your peers.

Still, there are many differences. If you are charged with a federal or a state crime in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, or Pigeon Forge, our criminal defense attorneys fight aggressively for your freedom. We examine:

  • The statute that defines the crime. Federal crimes are enacted by the US Congress while Tennessee crimes are enacted by the state legislature. The statute is the key starting point in criminal cases. The prosecutors must prove each and every element of the statute in order to prove their case.
  • The rules of evidence and criminal procedure. Trying a case in a federal court is not the same as conducting a case in state court. There are different filing requirements, different ways a person can be charged with a crime, and different ways evidence can be presented to a jury.
  • The judges who hear the case. Federal court judges can have very different backgrounds than state court judges. Many state court judges are former prosecutors and have been elected to be tough on crime. Federal judges are appointed by the President and often come from an exclusively civil background.
  • The juries that decide the fate of the defendant. Tennessee juries are selected on a county-by-county basis. Federal juries are usually selected across counties. It helps to have some understanding of the type of person who will sit on a jury.
  • The sentences and fines that can be imposed. The sentences and fines are imposed by the corresponding federal and state statutes. Additionally, there are federal sentencing guidelines and state sentencing guidelines, which are different.
  • Where you spend time if convicted. Defendants convicted of a federal crime will spend time in a federal prison. If the accused is found guilty of a state crime, then he or she will spend time in a state prison or local county jail.

Some common federal and state crimes

Some crimes are brought primarily in federal court. These usually involve crimes that involve interstate commerce, a crime on federal land, an attack on a federal official such as a mailman, or other federal laws such as the Securities and Exchange Act or Medicare. Other crimes are usually brought in the state courts in Tennessee. State crimes are often, but not necessarily, less severe than federal crimes.

Many crimes can be brought in both federal and state court. This means the defendant can be charged twice and have to defend two sets of charges. Some of the crimes our Sevierville criminal defense attorneys handle that can be tried in a federal or a state court include:

Charged with a state or federal crime in Tennessee? Let our qualified attorneys help

Delius & McKenzie, PLLC offers aggressive representation to clients charged with state and federal crimes in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Seymour, Greeneville, Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport. We fight hard to have your charges dropped or reduced when dropping them is not possible. To make an appointment with an experienced Sevierville state and federal defense lawyer, please call 865-428-8780 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our team offers in-custody visits.