State Crimes vs Federal Crimes in Florida

Understand the Difference between State & Federal Crimes

Every state in the country has specific laws that define and penalize prohibited behavior. Engaging in these prohibited behaviors often results in either federal or state criminal charges. Cases often overlap both federal and state laws, making it necessary to determine which criminal court has jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. Typically, if a crime is confined to one state, it is tried in state criminal court. If, however, the crime occurs in multiple states or crosses a state line, it is often elevated to a federal offense.

Learn more about the difference between state and federal crimes by calling The Law Offices of Joel DeFabio at (305) 851-5581.

State Crimes in Florida

At the state level, governments are responsible for developing criminal codes and laws that define both crimes and the potential penalties for committing them.

A few examples of state crimes are:

  • Murder
  • Theft
  • Drug possession
  • Assault and battery

State crimes in Florida are listed in Title XLVI of the Florida Statutes.

Federal Crimes

In addition to crimes that cross state lines, federal offenses are also crimes that violate federal laws or are committed on or against federal property. Many crimes that are considered federal offenses can be found in Title 18 of the United States Code.

A few examples of federal crimes include:

Kidnapping and murder are examples of state crimes that become federal when they occur across multiple states.

Beyond the many statutes defining criminal offenses in Title 18, it is also possible to be charged, prosecuted, and punished under one of the many different rules and regulations contained in the Byzantine complex of federal law. According to an estimate made by the American Bar Association and reported in the Wall Street Journal, there are probably well over 3,000 federal crimes on the books.

Federal Courts vs. State Courts

Only federal offenses are tried in federal court. All states have federal district courts that function as federal criminal courts to hear cases regarding violations of federal law. Federal criminal cases are tried on behalf of the people of the United States by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The majority of crimes in Miami, however, are violations of state law and are prosecuted in state court.

States have one or more criminal court systems where cases are brought on behalf of the people of the state by the district or state attorney's office.

Sentencing & Penalties for Federal Crimes

In general, federal crimes carry much harsher sentences in comparison to state criminal charges, such as serving time in federal prison and fines worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in fines. The maximum punishment for federal offenses is much higher than the penalties for state crimes.

Regarding plea agreement negotiations, federal prosecutors have less discretion than state prosecutors. Additionally, federal judges must adhere to strict sentencing guidelines under federal law and have much less discretion when it comes to determining sentences.

Keep in mind, under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, all federal prisoners must spend at least 85 percent of their sentences in federal prison before they become eligible for release. For more state felony matters, you may only serve half of the sentence before becoming eligible.

If you are being investigated or charged with a federal crime, come to The Law Offices of Joel DeFabio for help. We can practice in both state and federal court, and our Miami federal crimes lawyer has a proven track record of success in defending clients.

Under investigation for a federal crime in Miami, FL? Give us a call at (305) 851-5581 to get started on your case today.

Fight For Your Freedom

Having defended over 600 cases, Joel DeFabio has the experience and knowledge to craft winning defense strategies for even the most serious charges.

Recent Victories

Result-Driven Defense

  • Aggravated Identity Theft CHARGES DISMISSED
  • Assault of a Federal Officer CHARGES DISMISSED
  • Charged with refusing to comply All charges were dismissed
  • Conspiracy NOT GUILTY
  • Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud CHARGES DISMISSED
  • Conspiracy to Commit Fraud NO JAIL
  • Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism NOT GUILTY
  • Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S. Government NO JAIL
  • Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S.; False Statements NO JAIL
  • Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine NO JAIL

The DeFabio Difference

What Sets Us Apart from the Rest
  • Nearly 40 Years of Experience
  • More Than 600 Federal Cases Defended
  • More Than 50 Federal Jury Trials Handled
  • One of Miami's Most Respected Defense Attorneys
  • Award-Winning Representation
  • Honest Appraisal of Your Case - "No Surprises"

Put an Award-Winning Attorney in Your Corner


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