Some criminal acts are so serious that they require federal prosecution. Federal crimes are generally worse and come with harsher punishments than state crimes. But what exactly are federal offenses?
There are many types of unlawful acts that are subject to federal prosecution. Here are some of the more common types of federal crimes:
1. Drug offenses
While state prosecutors may sometimes handle drug crimes, federal officials handle the more severe ones. Drug offenses are the most prevalent type of federal crime. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, drug cases account for over thirty-one percent of all federal cases. The vast majority of these crimes involved manufacturing, transporting or selling drugs. However, there are even federal cases for simple possession.
Methamphetamine crimes are the most common type of drug case. The next most common drugs that result in federal sentences include cocaine, marijuana, heroin and prescription drugs.
2. Weapon crimes
Weapon-related offenses account for over 10 percent of the entire federal caseload. Most of these federal convictions involve firearms. Common examples of federal weapon offenses include:
- Possessing or using a firearm during a violent crime
- Possessing or using a firearm in connection to a drug offense
- A felon illegally possessing a firearm
Weapons are an aspect in over 17 percent of drug offenses. Other offenses involve different types of weapons, mostly knives.
Fraudulent acts account for over nine percent of all federal convictions. Some examples of fraud include:
- Identity theft
- Ponzi schemes
- Reverse mortgage scams
- Tax fraud
Individuals and organizations may be guilty of violating federal statutes. Sometimes, the punishment for fraud only includes a fine.
It may be confusing to understand the difference between federal and state crimes, but as a general rule, federal crimes tend to be more intense. Sometimes, federal agents take criminals into custody, or they become involved once local law enforcement needs them.