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Differences Between Federal and State Crimes

Know the difference between state and federal crimes, and whether your attorney is qualified to represent you

In Wisconsin, and everywhere in the United States, being charged with a crime can lead to a trial in either federal or state court. The differences include the laws under which you are charged, the rules of the courtroom hearing the case, and the kind of prosecution team you face. Having an attorney ready to guide you through the process ahead is critical to your ability to defend yourself.

Two Legal Systems

A majority of crimes fall at the state level. Wisconsin’s legislature writes the laws, and state judges preside over cases for those crimes. This includes most crimes of a more specifically local nature:

  • Assault
  • Homicide
  • Sexual assault
  • Robbery

Federal crimes include a narrower set that usually occur across state lines or online:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Immigration violations
  • Tax fraud
  • Kidnapping across state lines

Sometimes a crime may blur the lines between the two, so you need to make sure you understand both what the charges are and where you need to go. Each court system comes with its own courtroom rules and processes that you have to follow, so unfamiliarity with what you have to do can create hurdles for your defense.

Prosecution Resources

The resources available in the system differ between state and federal legal systems as well. Federal crimes are tried by U.S. Attorney offices, which bring a vast array of experience, staffing strength, and financial resources. State and local prosecutors handle state crimes, and while they do not have the same resources, they bring a tremendous advantage in their local standing and knowledge of the courts and judges who will hear cases. Regardless of the system charging you, you need to be ready for a powerful legal opponent.

Criminal charges, whether state or federal, can put your family, livelihood, or life at stake. Don’t trust just anyone to help with your legal defense. If you are facing federal or state prosecution, contact Eisenberg Law Offices online or at (608)256-8356. We will put our experience in criminal defense to work for you.