sub banner image

What Makes Something a Federal Crime?

Each state has its own criminal statutes and offenses, but did you know the federal government also has a separate set of criminal laws? When someone is facing federal charges, their case takes place in federal court and must adhere to federal court procedures, sentencing guidelines, and other specific legal provisions.

If you are accused of a federal offense in the Nashville area, you need a highly experienced federal crimes defense lawyer on your side immediately.

When Charges Become Federal

Several factors contribute to categorizing an offense as a federal crime, including the following.

Specific Statutes

Federal crimes are defined by specific statutes passed by Congress. These statutes cover a wide range of offenses, including but not limited to drug trafficking, gun crimes, tax evasion (income, payroll, etc.), immigration violations, white-collar crimes like wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering, terrorism, and crimes committed on federal property.


Federal crimes fall under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These agencies handle cases that involve violations of federal laws.

Crossing State Lines

Offenses that involve activities across state lines or that have a significant interstate or international component often fall under federal jurisdiction. For example, crimes like kidnapping, drug trafficking, and certain types of fraud that occur across state borders can be considered federal offenses.

National Security Concerns

Acts that threaten national security, such as espionage, treason, or acts of terrorism, are considered federal crimes due to their impact on the safety and security of the entire nation.

Regulation of Commerce

The federal government has authority over crimes that affect interstate commerce. This includes offenses like racketeering (RICO), wire fraud, antitrust violations, and certain types of fraud that impact the national economy.

Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction

Some offenses, such as crimes committed on federal property (like national parks, military bases, commercial aircraft regulated by the FAA, or government buildings), are exclusively under federal jurisdiction.

Federal Agency Involvement

Crimes that involve federal agencies, employees, or contractors often fall under federal jurisdiction. This includes offenses related to federal programs, customs violations, and corruption involving federal officials.

Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution establishes that federal law supersedes state law in cases of conflict. This means that when a federal law applies, it takes precedence over state laws.

Penalties for federal offenses can be severe, often resulting in longer prison sentences and higher fines than similar state-level offenses. Due to the complexity of federal law, anyone facing federal charges should seek experienced defense representation to navigate the intricacies of the federal legal system, protect their rights, and avoid an unnecessarily harsh outcome in federal court.

Seek Representation from a Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately

Defense attorney Andrew C. Beasley is licensed in all federal courts in Tennessee and has experience defending clients in both state and federal court. Our firm handles federal drug crimes, weapons charges, cybercrimes, violent crimes, and more. We understand the intricacies of federal criminal court and procedure, and we know how to work with the prosecutor and authorities to minimize the consequences you might face. Contact us right away for help.

Get In Touch With Us

By checking this box you agree to receive text messages at the number provided