An Overview of Federal and State-Level Crimes in Texas

Across the country, each state nationwide, including Texas, has criminal laws specifically tailored to prohibit and punish criminal offenses committed within its borders.  Engaging in criminal behavior can cause a person to face either state or federal criminal charges, depending upon the nature of the underlying activity.  Regardless of the circumstances, it is important understand that federal criminal charges are much different and oftentimes more complex than state-level cases.  Specifically, many of our clients are surprised to learn that their alleged crime has been elevated to a federal level offense by virtue of their actions.

While the federal government has jurisdiction over specific types of crimes such as terrorism and tax evasion, a state crime can become a federally prosecuted offense under certain circumstances.  Moreover, whether a crime becomes within the purview of a federal government or not, it nonetheless can also be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, which also hinges upon the facts of one’s case.  Here is an overview of some of the things you should know if you have been charged with a crime:

Federal vs. State Level Offenses

State governments across the country are charged with the responsibility of developing criminal laws to define crimes and the penalties associated therewith.  A few common examples of state level crimes in Texas are murder, manslaughter, drug possession, theft, robbery, kidnapping, rape and assault.  However, if these crimes cross state lines, they may be considered federal offenses that are governed by federal criminal statutes and sentencing guidelines.

To illustrate, a crime can “cross state lines” in the event that a person physically commits a crime in more than one state.   Therefore, if a serial murderer killed victims in Texas and in one or more the surroundings states, or uses various methods of communication to perpetrate a crime, such as the internet or use of a cell phone, he or she could be charged with a federal crime.  Keep in mind that a Texas prosecutor can also charge the wrongdoer with a state-based crime as well.

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

In Texas, misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for one year or less.  The associated fines and penalties for misdemeanor level offenses are commensurate with the level and severity of the charges.  Felonies however, are much more serious offenses that carry with them significant penalties, such as extended prison time and other severe repercussions.  Under certain circumstances, a misdemeanor can be upgraded to a felony level offense.  For example, if a person is charged with domestic abuse in Texas, it could be elevated from a misdemeanor (i.e. simple assault) to a felony had the offender have used a weapon that caused injury during the commission of the crime.

For additional information, or if you were charged with a federal or crime in Texas, it is important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer to help you fight for your rights.  For more than thirty years, our attorney has successfully defended thousands of individuals dealing with all types of felony and misdemeanor related offenses.   If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.


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