Cheronis & Parente LLC

Criminal Defense Blog


6 Ways Criminal Charges Can Become A Federal Case

Facing legal troubles can be a daunting experience.

Understanding how a criminal charge can escalate to federal charges is important for anyone navigating the justice system.

1. Crossing state lines

Criminal charges often start at the state level, but they can quickly become federal if the alleged crime involves crossing state lines. For example, drug trafficking or kidnapping that spans multiple states can trigger federal jurisdiction.

2. Involvement of federal agencies

Certain crimes are directly under federal jurisdiction, as they fall within the purview of federal agencies. Counterfeiting, immigration violations and tax evasion are examples of such offenses that can lead to federal charges.

3. Crimes on federal property

If an alleged crime occurs on federal property, such as a national park, military base or federal courthouse, it automatically falls under federal jurisdiction. Trespassing, theft or assault on federal premises can result in federal charges.

4. Interstate commerce

Any criminal activity related to interstate commerce, such as fraud, hacking or extortion that impacts businesses across state lines, may attract the attention of federal authorities.

5. White-collar crimes

White-collar crimes, including fraud, embezzlement and insider trading, often draw the attention of federal authorities, especially if they involve large sums of money or cross state lines.

6. Cybercrimes

With the rise of technology, cybercrimes like hacking, identity theft and cyber-terrorism can easily become federal cases when they target government agencies, critical infrastructure or cross state lines.

In 2022, federal courts dealt with 71,111 criminal cases. Although these courts have a lighter load compared to the state court system, dealing with federal charges typically comes with extra complexity and potentially steeper consequences.

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