Is My Charge Federal or State?
Complex Issue of Federal Charges and Interstate Commerce
This is a very complicated matter that involves constitutional issues. Some charges can be brought in state court, federal court or in both court systems. However, the bottom line is that in general, only circumstances involving “interstate commerce” are considered federal charges. Interstate commerce is the trade, traffic or transportation between states. For example, if a felon was in possession of a gun and crossed states lines from Utah into Nevada to buy the gun, this is involving interstate commerce. The charge felon in possession of a firearm in this case could be brought in federal court. Keep in mind this is a simplified example and some situations can become very complex, as there are years of Supreme Court authority that determine this often debated issue.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The main concern with federal vs. state charges is the very stringent Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Unlike in state court where there is often more room for discretion by judges, federal sentencing guidelines are strict. In fact, federal judges for the most part, do not deviate from them.
In addition, there are no federal prisons in Utah. That means that if you are convicted of a federal crime in Utah, you will not be able to stay in Utah. You will be transferred to a federal penitentiary outside of Utah away from your family. The consequences of a federal crime are very serious and require expert criminal defense.
I can provide just that. Let me discuss with you your particular crime and whether it will be tried in state or federal court. If possible, I will seek to have the charges filed in state court rather than federal court.