Federal crimes differ from state crimes because federal crimes violate statutes passed by Congress, whereas a state crime violates the statutes of local authority or state legislature. As a result, federal crimes generally deal with criminal activity that is a national concern, while state crimes deal with crimes at the state or local level. Some crimes face prosecution at both the federal and state levels. For example, if a person gets accused of violating both state and federal law when manufacturing drugs, they face consequences of both the state and federal laws. In this situation, the trial can be heard in either federal or state court.
State courts hear a wider variety of cases because state laws can be very broad. You can go to a state court for a hearing concerning anything from a traffic violation, to robbery, to murder. In contrast, the federal court only deals with crimes specifically listed in the Constitution. For the most part, this includes:
- Cases involving residents of different states.
- Crimes that violate the Constitution.
- Cases where the United States is a party.
In addition, federal courts can differ significantly from state courts. Many more cases get tried in state courts than in federal courts, which makes the staff at such courts drastically different. This happens because different types of lawyers prosecute federal crimes and state crimes. While state crimes get investigated by local police officers, federal crimes get investigated by federal agencies. For example, agencies such as the DEA, FBI, CIA, and more, can investigate you if you get charged with a federal crime.
In some cases, federal agents can work with state police officers in order to investigate or prosecute a federal crime. Federal crimes are also most often prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office, while state crimes are prosecuted by a District or State’s Attorney. The federal courts in Connecticut have locations in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. State courts are much more commonly populated throughout the state, due in large part because more state crimes are tried in Connecticut than federal crimes.
Occasionally, a United States Department of Justice prosecutor or a prosecutor from an agency will assist in a federal prosecution. The different parties involved can drastically alter a case. For this reason, if you have a court date at a federal court, you should hire a lawyer who has experience in the federal courts. The same goes for your case if it will get tried in a state court.
For help with a state or federal crime, contact our office.