Difference Between Federal Crime and Arizona State Level Crime

Arizona Federal Court for Federal Crimes

Have you or a loved one been accused or arrested for criminal charges? It's a tough spot, with many mixed feelings and worries. But remember, you're not in this fight by yourself. Knowing more about your charges and the laws around them can guide you through this tough time.


Dealing with criminal charges on a Federal or Arizona state-level can be confusing. This article help explain the differences between state and federal crimes and how understanding these differences can give you a clearer picture.


You might be surprised to know that approximately 90% of all criminal cases in the United States are prosecuted at the state level, not federal. This statistic makes it even more critical to understand the differences between the two jurisdictions. However, federal crimes can have much harsher penalties, which makes it critical to have the right federal crimes defense attorney on your side.

federal crimes

Understanding the Jurisdictional Differences: Federal vs. State Laws in Arizona

Federal and state governments share the power to create laws and impose penalties. The United States Constitution allows each state to create and enforce its laws, as long as they don’t conflict with federal law or constitution. This means that Arizona, like all other states, has its laws defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes.


Conversely, the federal government sets and enforces laws that span the entire United States. You can find these laws in the United States Code, usually aimed at issues that cross state lines or affect the nation.


 Typical federal crimes include:

These laws are important for maintaining order and unity across the country, especially for matters beyond individual states' reach.


Regarding crimes, jurisdiction refers to which legal authority has the power to prosecute an offense. State crimes are typically prosecuted by the state where the offense was committed under Arizona's legal jurisdiction. In contrast, federal crimes are prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys in federal courts.


However, certain situations may cause a crime to fall under both jurisdictions, a concept known as "dual sovereignty."

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The Implication of Dual Sovereignty in Prosecution: How One Act Can Be a Crime at Both Levels

Dual sovereignty is a legal principle that recognizes the authority of both federal and state governments to prosecute an individual for the same conduct without violating the double jeopardy clause.


It acknowledges that state and federal entities are separate 'sovereigns,' each with the right to enforce its laws.


Here's an example to help explain how dual sovereignty works:


Imagine a person in Arizona is involved in a bank robbery. This person could potentially be charged under Arizona state laws for robbery. But because the bank is federally insured, the crime also falls under federal jurisdiction per the United States Code.


This means the individual can be tried and potentially convicted for the same act in both state and federal courts without it being considered double jeopardy, thanks to the dual sovereignty doctrine. Understanding the nuances between federal and state laws can be crucial in criminal defense.


Dual sovereignty can have serious implications, leading to heavier combined penalties if convicted at both levels. A federal criminal defense attorney from Kolsrud Law Office can provide invaluable assistance in such complex situations, ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected and that they receive fair treatment under the law.

The Fundamental Distinctions in Arizona State Laws versus Federal Laws

While federal and state laws aim to maintain order, several key differences exist in their scope, penalties, and procedures.

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    Firstly, the scope of federal and state laws often diverge.

    State laws regulate a broad range of behavior that directly impacts the daily lives of Arizona citizens, from traffic laws to property disputes. Federal laws, meanwhile, deal primarily with issues of national concern—for instance, crimes involving interstate commerce, federal taxes, and national security fall under federal jurisdiction.

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    Secondly, the penalties for breaking state and federal laws vary significantly.

    Federal penalties often include mandatory minimum sentences and are generally harsher, especially for repeat offenders. State laws, as outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes, provide more discretion to judges when determining penalties.

  • 3

    Lastly, the procedures for state and federal trials differ.

    Federal courts have a grand jury process, typically a group of 16 to 23 citizens deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a federal crime. Most states, including Arizona, also utilize grand juries, but they also have the option of a preliminary hearing where a judge determines if there's enough evidence to proceed to trial.

As a federal criminal defense attorney at the Kolsrud Law Office, understanding these differences is critical in crafting a robust defense strategy, whether you're facing state or federal charges.

Analyzing Key Aspects of Federal Criminal Law: The United States Code

Diving into federal law, the United States Code serves as the bedrock. It consolidates all federal laws and is organized into 54 titles, each encompassing a broad area of federal law.


The United States Code has several titles that play a significant role in criminal law.


Some of the key ones include:

  • Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure

    This title outlines most federal crimes and the procedures for prosecuting those crimes.

  • Title 21 - Food and Drugs

    This title primarily focuses on regulating food and drugs but also includes statutes regarding the control and enforcement of drug-related offenses.

  • Title 26 - Internal Revenue Code

    This title, while primarily about taxes, also includes federal tax evasion and fraud laws.

  • Title 8 - Aliens and Nationality

    This code section pertains to immigration laws and includes various offenses related to illegal immigration and fraud.

  • Title 15 - Commerce and Trade

    This title includes interstate commerce laws and crimes such as antitrust violations and securities fraud.

  • Title 31 - Money and Finance

    This title includes laws related to currency, financial institutions, and offenses related to money laundering and counterfeiting.

Understanding these titles and their respective laws is crucial when dealing with federal criminal charges. They help define the crime, determine jurisdiction, and set the penalties for each offense.


The penalties for federal crimes are usually more severe than their state counterparts, partially due to the federal sentencing guidelines providing mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses. For example, under Title 21, a first offense of drug trafficking involving certain controlled substances can lead to a minimum sentence of 10 years, depending on the amount of drugs involved.


Navigating the United States Code requires adept legal expertise with complex language and legal concepts. That's where a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney from Kolsrud Law Office comes in, providing essential guidance and representation for those facing federal charges.

state law

Influence of Court Systems: Federal Courts vs. Arizona State Courts

The court systems in the federal and state jurisdictions operate independently, each having its own unique processes, rules, and norms.


Federal courts, created under the United States Constitution, are tasked with hearing cases involving federal laws and the U.S. Constitution. These courts are hierarchical, with U.S. District Courts at the bottom, the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal in the middle, and the U.S. Supreme Court at the top. Each federal district court follows the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which detail the procedural steps for conducting a federal criminal trial.


On the other hand, Arizona state courts have their hierarchy and procedural rules. Starting with the Justice and Municipal Courts, then the Superior Courts, the Court of Appeals, and culminating in the Arizona Supreme Court. These courts primarily hear cases involving state law violations, as codified in the Arizona Revised Statutes.


The procedures and tactics employed during a trial can greatly impact its outcome. For instance, federal court proceedings are generally more formal and have stricter rules of evidence than state courts. It's also worth noting that federal courts often have more resources, which can lead to more thorough investigations and prosecutions.


With our federal criminal defense attorneys at the Kolsrud Law Office, you can navigate the complexities of both court systems. Our expertise spans federal and Arizona state courts, helping you understand the processes, advocate for your rights, and strategically defend your case.

Defense Strategies for Federal Crimes versus State Crimes in Arizona

The differences between federal and state jurisdictions affect the laws and how one can effectively defend against criminal allegations. As such, the approach to defending a client facing federal charges may vary significantly from one facing state charges.


It's essential to understand that federal prosecutors have extensive resources in federal cases, and federal crimes often carry heavier penalties. These cases require a deep understanding of the United States Code and federal court procedures. The complexity of these cases may necessitate specific strategies, such as challenging the sufficiency of the federal grand jury's indictment or questioning the application of mandatory minimum sentences.


On the state level, the breadth and diversity of potential crimes under Arizona law require a more versatile approach. Understanding the specific elements of each crime under the Arizona Revised Statutes and familiarity with local courts and judges can be critical. Strategies may involve challenging the constitutionality of a traffic stop in a DUI case or arguing for mitigating circumstances to reduce potential penalties.


A comprehensive strategy addressing state and federal charges is vital in cases involving dual sovereignty. This may involve leveraging pleas or negotiations at one level to influence the outcome at the other, or it may require two entirely separate defense strategies.

federal crime

When Charged with a Crime, the Kolsrud Office is Here to Help

Understanding the differences between federal and Arizona state-level crimes is crucial. From the jurisdictional distinctions and the fundamental differences in-laws to the implications of dual sovereignty, these factors can significantly influence the outcome of a case.


By understanding these complexities, one can better navigate the laws and court systems and secure the best possible defense with a knowledgeable attorney like those at Kolsrud Law Office.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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