The Most Common Crimes Prosecuted at the Federal Level

Most people will never commit a crime. If they do, maybe they’ll speed while driving or jaywalk. Those who commit crimes might end up in front of a judge if the police catch them. They’ll likely face criminal prosecution in a local court.

If they do something more egregious, though, they might face prosecution on the federal level instead. You should know that you can expect significant consequences associated with federal criminal charges. The government views those much more seriously.

We will talk about a few of the crimes typically prosecuted at the federal level in this article.

High-Level Drug Charges

If the police catch you with a joint in your pocket in a state with no legal recreational marijuana, they might make you appear in court. You will likely pay a small fine if it’s your first offense. The court system typically doesn’t take these minor drug charges as seriously as it once did.

If the feds catch you bringing several tons of heroin into the country, though, you will probably face federal drug conspiracy charges. Those charges carry much more weight. If the court system convicts you, you’ll face multiple decades behind bars.

White-Collar Crimes

You might not think about white-collar crimes as hurting society that much. Some white-collar crimes can involve millions of dollars or more, though.

White-collar crimes can include bank fraud or embezzlement. They might include running a Ponzi scheme like the infamous Bernie Madoff.

These offenses bring with them long prison sentences and large fines. You might face decades behind bars if you commit one of these crimes. In some cases, you might even get life in prison if you betrayed the public’s trust or that of your investors.

Sex Crimes

If you talk about sex crimes, that’s a potentially wide-ranging term. The courts take something like sexual assault very seriously, but that’s likely not a federal offense. The lower courts will try and convict you, or you might accept a plea bargain or fight the charges. That’s your prerogative.

If you bring someone across state lines for prostitution purposes, though, that’s a federal crime, and you will face very harsh penalties. If you make or distribute child pornography, you will often face federal charges for that as well.

Something like child porn usually gets federal crime status because if you make it, you might also distribute it online. If you do that, you’ve created a criminal conspiracy. Those who receive that child porn in other states can also face charges.

If you do something like traffic minors for sexual purposes, that’s a federal crime as well. Basically, any offense of a sexual nature that involves individuals or illegal, sexually-explicit materials crossing state lines will get federal charges.

If you never do anything like we’ve described, you will never worry about these charges. It’s when you make some serious missteps in your life that the court system will likely charge you on a federal level.   


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