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What Are the Differences Between Federal and State Criminal Charges?

 Posted on September 13,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville criminal defense lawyerEvery state has its own criminal justice system. The federal government also has its own criminal justice system. Depending on the circumstances, the defendant will face either state or federal prosecution, however, in some cases, they may be facing charges in both systems.

Federal vs. State Charges

Typically, the length of time it takes for a federal case to conclude takes longer than it does for state prosecutors to bring their cases to trial or other conclusions. It is not uncommon for federal prosecutors to request delays, resulting in the defendant being in limbo and unable to move forward with their life because of these serious criminal charges hanging over their head.

Another benefit that federal prosecutors have over state prosecutors is that they often have more staff and other resources to put into their cases compared to their state counterparts. Local prosecutors are often working within limited budgets and are often juggling multiple cases at a time.

Penalties for a federal crime conviction can be harsher than a state conviction for the same criminal act. This is especially true in drug trafficking crimes where although the minimum prison sentences are similar to Tennessee laws, the maximum sentences tend to be years longer.

Similar Consequences for Convictions

Although there may be differences in how federal and state crimes are prosecuted and what a conviction could bring, they both still end up impacting the defendant’s life in the same ways. Any type of criminal conviction can hamper a person’s ability to move on with their life, long after they have completed their sentence.

Some of the more common issues that a defendant may face include:

  • Limit the ability of where they can work. Many employers today conduct background checks, and a criminal conviction can torpedo any opportunity you have of being hired, no matter how qualified you are for the position.
  • Limit your ability to obtain a mortgage or other financial credit. Many financial institutions conduct criminal background checks to help determine an applicant’s eligibility and a criminal conviction could result in being denied for a loan.
  • Revocation or denial of a professional license. Many licensing boards will revoke a license holder’s license if they are convicted for a crime (i.e. medical license, nursing license, etc.) or will deny a new application.

Contact a Knox County Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you need an attorney who has extensive experience defending against these types of charges and is familiar with the federal criminal justice system, just like the Knoxville, TX criminal attorneys from Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney. Call 865-281-1000 today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.


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