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What is a Federal Crime?


There are several different classifications of crimes, but one, in particular, is something everyone should be worried about. This type of crime is federal crime, and it carries some very steep penalties. If you have been charged with this type of crime or merely want to know more about how it differs from other kinds of crimes and criminal charges, the following will help.

Classifying Federal Crimes

People charged with this sort of crime can be tried and punished at both the state and federal court levels. There are many offenses considered to be at the federal level for adjudication and punishment.

Some examples of these crimes include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Tax Evasion or Tax Fraud
  • Illegal possession and/or use of illicit drugs
  • Sale or trafficking of illicit drugs
  • Racketeering
  • Fraud involving a federal government agency such as Medicare or Social Security Fraud
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Cybercrimes involving identity theft, theft of proprietary information, dark web activity involving stolen personal information, etc.
  • Money laundering and "money mule" schemes

Along with the above, assassinations or assassination attempts, mass murders of high-profile individuals, domestic terrorism acts, and serial killings all fall into this category of criminal behavior. If charged with one or more of these crimes, your best option would be to work with a criminal defense attorney with a past as a federal prosecutor.

What If You Are Charged With This Type of Serious Crime?

Some people are shocked to learn that their criminal charges are at the federal level. On the other hand, those who engage in activities that may fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act may already understand the risks associated with it in terms of criminal level.

While the crimes themselves may not always be clearly defined as taking place on a state or federal level, the penalties can be harsh either way.


Realistically, a penalty associated with any of the above crimes would be time in jail or prison. You could be spending that time in either a state or federal prison, depending on the crime, the nature of it, and how deeply involved you were. For example, you might get a lighter sentence if you were just a "messenger" in a racketeering operation versus the head of the racketeering business. However, that might not exclude you from federal prison time unless you were a whistleblower in exchange for testimony against your boss. Details of these deals are never guaranteed, but there can be opportunities to get a lighter sentence depending on involvement.

Likewise, if you are responsible for causing untold monetary theft or destruction, you may be forced to repay that after serving your prison/jail sentence. For example, if you embezzled millions from your company's pension fund, the judge may order you to repay that by selling everything you bought with the ill-gained funds. If there is a shortage of funds still, you will be spending many years working it off and possibly having it docked from your pay.

Attempting to represent yourself in a federal criminal case is never a good idea. Justice is likely to be more swift and exacting because you cannot request a continuance or a postponement for your hearing with the same efficacy as a defense attorney. You may also say something in court that could cause your case to be irreparably damaged. Hire a lawyer.

Protect Your Rights in Any Case. Call (404) 471-3177

While working with a criminal defense attorney who has experience as a federal prosecutor won't guarantee you get off the hook, there are benefits to having someone on your team who knows the process. Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum have over 60 years of combined experience and are ready to help you tackle your federal case.

Call (404) 471-3177 to schedule your free consultation.

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