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What are the differences between federal and state charges?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Adults get arrested every day in South Carolina for offenses ranging from drug possession to homicide. In many cases, individuals will face state charges, but not always. Prosecutors will sometimes seek charges under federal law.

When you understand the differences between state and federal charges and what helps establish jurisdiction in criminal cases, it’s easier for you to plan a defense strategy after your arrest or when embroiled in an ongoing criminal investigation.

Big differences

Two of the most obvious differences between a state charge and a federal charge will be the laws that apply and the punishments someone will likely face.

In some cases, federal charges result in harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions and other offenses. Also, convictions for federal offenses involve serving prison at a federal facility, which often involves serving time many miles away from home. Typically, convictions for state charges require the individual to serve time inside the state boundary.

What makes a criminal offense a federal case?

There are many reasons why individuals face federal charges over state charges.

For instance, those accused of committing a crime on federal property could face federal charges. Interstate offenses (those involving multiple states or jurisdictions) can also lead to federal prosecution. Drug trafficking charges are one example.

A skilled attorney

Defending federal charges is very different from state charges. The rules and procedures vary. Getting a skilled criminal defense attorney who knows the federal system is vital to ensuring your rights are protected during each stage of the process.