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Understanding Federal and State Crimes in North Carolina


The justice system is complicated for many reasons. One of the biggest points of confusion is the question of when a crime becomes a federal matter. 

Whether you’re facing charges, you’re trying to help a loved one, or you simply want to gain a clearer picture of the U.S. legal system, it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of the differences between federal and state offenses in North Carolina.

Federal Crimes in North Carolina

Federal crimes violate United States federal laws. When this happens, a crime falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts. Many different types of crimes can become federal issues. 

Most of the time, these offenses involve activities that cross state lines. In some cases, they might have enough of a national impact that they fall under federal jurisdiction. Sometimes, federal crimes are direct crimes against the U.S. government, such as tax fraud. 

Examples of crimes in North Carolina that can lead to federal charges include:

Federal crimes are usually investigated by federal agencies. Examples of these include the FBI, DEA, and IRS. If you’re charged with a federal crime, your case is prosecuted in a federal court. 

Penalties usually involve significant prison time and fines. A conviction for a federal crime typically brings sentencing at a federal prison rather than a state-run prison. 

State Crimes in North Carolina

Many crimes such as firearms violations, drug crimes, and internet crimes can violate both state and federal laws. In these situations, it is important to have an attorney that knows how to navigate both systems to your advantage. However, when a crime doesn’t cross state lines, have national implications, or involve the federal government, it’s probably a state crime. 

In North Carolina, state crimes are ones that violate North Carolina state laws. These are usually handled by the accused individual’s local court system. Verdicts are rendered by North Carolina judges or juries, and incarceration is typically undergone at North Carolina state prisons or local jails. 

In comparison to federal crimes, most crimes are state crimes. Some of the many examples of North Carolina state crimes include: 

  • Homicide
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Assault
  • Rape 
  • Kidnapping
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Possession of illegal drugs
  • Trespassing
  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Vandalism

Many of the most common types of federal crimes can also fall under state jurisdiction, especially if they occur on a small scale. Crimes like fraud, embezzlement, or identity theft can be state crimes. It typically depends on the scale of the crime committed. 

Consult a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Federal and North Carolina state crimes aren’t always cut and dried. Crimes often involve both jurisdictions. Many federal crimes also break state laws. Furthermore, federal agencies often depend on North Carolina state agencies and local law enforcement to assist in detecting crime and help with investigations and arrests. 

If you’ve been charged with a crime in North Carolina, you need to call a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer right away. If you’re facing federal charges, it’s a good idea to make sure that your lawyer has experience handling criminal defense at the federal level. The right legal representation can significantly affect how your case unfolds in court. 

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