If you are arrested, it is vital that you know if you are going to be charged in a state court or in a federal court. For state crimes, state police and prosecutors will pursue the charges while other crimes are investigated by a federal agency, like the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and more.
If you were tried and acquitted of murder in the state of Florida, the concept of double jeopardy bars the state from prosecuting you for the same criminal incident in the future. Although the U.S. has a strong principle against double jeopardy, which doesn’t allow an individual to be charged twice for the same crime, there is the separate sovereign exception. Under the concept of “dual sovereignty,” state and federal governments may separately prosecute you for the same crime if the criminal act in question violates state and federal laws. This means you may also face prosecution in a federal court for the same crime.
If the person is charged in both systems, they may also face sentencing in both as well.
For example, a kidnapping case could be handled by the state court, but if the defendant is accused of traveling with the victim across state or international lines, the case will likely be tried in federal court. Sometimes, a defendant may face charges at the state and federal levels for the same offense. If a murder is committed in Florida, but the victim was a foreign dignitary or federal agent, the concept of dual sovereignty may apply.
Although rare, it is possible to be tried, convicted, and face distinct punishments at two separate levels.
Why Hiring the Right Attorney is Key
At Michael B Cohen Law, our priority is making sure that you receive the best legal representation for your federal crime cases. You can schedule a free consultation with us today and learn about your options and ways in which we can help you and your future.