Generally, a crime in the United States is considered federal if it violates the federal legal codes of conduct. Commercial fraud, drug trafficking, and wire fraud are also federal crimes when they are committed across several states. The law enforcement agencies usually investigate such cases and issue charges.

In some cases, the federal jurisdiction provides the federal prosecutors with the right to prosecute the criminal matter. In other situations, criminal activity may be considered illegal under both state and federal laws. As such, federal prosecutors decide when to step in and take over the matter from the state prosecutors. Let’s look at some of the circumstances when criminal activity is considered a federal crime.

Crime against the government

When crimes are against the US government, they automatically lead to federal charges and never get to a state court. Some of them are fraud-related, like an identity theft of a state or federal official. Some involve attacking government systems, such as hacking a federally-owned computer.

Crimes against the government only involve federal criminal defense. Some of them involve an individual’s actions, such as advocating or aiding to overthrow a government. The matter could constitute treason depending on the circumstances, and the individual could face imprisonment or decades of consequences.

Federal property

Some crimes that occur under state jurisdictions become federal crimes because they occur on federal property or soil. Federal property could include government housing, Indian reservations, commercial property, or any other building that the federal government owns.

Such cases call for a federal investigation into the matter. Federal prosecutors have the right to issue charges for the crimes and require the case to proceed to a federal court than a state court. A federal criminal defense lawyer needs to understand the federal legal procedures and the standards for evidence and expert witnesses.

Terrorism crimes

Criminal activities that amount to terrorist behavior fall under federal crimes. These include criminal activities that affect others and lead to injuries or death, such as hijacking an aircraft and causing trauma to the people involved.

Terrorism criminal activities can occur in a larger group, such as robbing a bank or individual, leading to severe trauma that may require lifetime therapy for the people involved. In terrorism crimes, the more the harm, the greater the penalties or consequences with the potential of incarceration at a federal prison.

Intentional harm

Many of the criminal activities proceed from state to federal cases when the individual involved has the intention to harm others. Federal crimes involve severe incidences such as armed robbery, the assassination of an official, and arson. When a matter involves assault with a deadly weapon, it falls along with other aggravated assault charges. Just like crimes committed on federal property, the severity of the crime increases when the individual intends to harm a federal official.


Other federal crimes include kidnapping, abduction, antitrust violations, blackmail across state lines involving a government official, homicide, and computer crimes. An individual facing federal criminal charges requires the support of a federal criminal defense lawyer since the process involves the higher standards of a federal court.


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