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What Are The Differences Between Federal and State Crimes?


States have jurisdiction over offenders who break state laws, which involves arresting, charging, prosecuting, and convicting them. On the other hand, the federal government has jurisdiction over offenders who commit crimes on federal property, such as murder in a national building, or whose acts occur across state lines, such as a human trafficker who transports a person from Texas to Florida, for instance. The U.S. government also prosecutes federal offenses, including those related to customs and immigration violations.

Both the federal and state governments have jurisdiction over offenders whose crimes violate federal and state laws, like robbery or drug offenses. In these cases, federal and state prosecutors must decide whether to prosecute an offender in federal or state court.

What Are The Most Common Federal Crimes in Texas?

Drug Crimes

These involve the possession, sale, manufacture, or trafficking of drugs. The most common drug involved in these cases is methamphetamine.

Immigration Offenses

These involve illegally entering or reentering the U.S., trafficking people into the U.S., or illegally remaining in the country without proper authority.

Firearm Offenses

Firearm or weapons offenses involve the illegal possession, transportation, or receipt of weapons or ammunition, including illegal sales of weapons and ammunition. Most cases involve convicted felons in illegal possession of firearms. Some cases involve using or possessing a firearm related to drug trafficking or a violent offense.

White Collar Crimes

These include fraud, tax evasion, insider trading, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, bribery, and forgery, among many others.

Violent Crimes

Violent offenses include conspiracy to murder, murder, involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, death resulting from a felony, sexual abuse of minors, and a range of robbery and assault offenses.


The distribution, possession, receipt, and production of child pornography is illegal under state and federal laws. Buying and trafficking children for pornography and intentionally viewing or searching for child pornography is also illegal.

Penalties for State and Federal Crimes

In general, the federal government imposes much harsher penalties and sentences than state governments for similar offenses. Particularly, federal drug offenses and crimes involving children carry more severe mandatory minimum prison sentences. The penalties imposed by federal judges for federal offenses can differ significantly based on the gravity and nature of the offense but refer to maximum and minimum sentences for many federal crimes.

Judges may likewise consider mitigating or aggravating factors when determining the most appropriate penalties for offenders. These factors typically include the severity of the offense, whether the offender is regretful of their actions, and whether or not the offender has previously been convicted of the same offense. Take note that judges can only impose the death penalty on murder and other capital crimes.

Talk to a Skilled Texas Federal Crimes Lawyer Now

Being accused of any crime, especially at the federal level, can be immensely terrifying. But the specific steps you take will help you protect your freedom, reputation, and legal rights. Reach out to Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC at 210-222-9132 or online to schedule your case review with our Texas federal crimes lawyer.