Criminal charges are categorised into divisions based on their intensity and many other factors. A common difference is between federal and state charges. As the name suggests, federal charges are dealt with by the federal government and federal prosecutors. Federal charges are generally more severe than state charges and hence require an attorney that can handle your case with experience and professionalism. A person is convicted of a federal crime when they break a federal law that leads to penalties.
In the case of state charges, they are dealt by courts of the city or country where the crime was committed. They are less severe than federal charges but still require you to hire a professional attorney to defend your case. State crimes do not mean that you can not face serious penalties due to the crime.
Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, ICE, DEA, OR ETF. In contrast, state charges are investigated by local police officers and agents prosecuted by the district or city attorneys.
For example, if a person is involved in drug dealing, the offence will be considered a federal offence because interstate commerce was involved. In such cases, the federal agents will investigate the case because federal law was violated.
There are some crimes that come under both federal and state offences and can be prosecuted at either level. In some states, drug dealing is not considered a federal offence. Similarly, robbery, kidnapping, or trafficking can be categorised under both state and federal crimes.
The federal judges are appointed by the government to deal with federal crimes, and the state judges have to be re-elected in order to continue serving. Similarly, federal penalties are longer as compared to state penalties because federal judges hand out sentences based on the sentencing guidelines provided to them by the court.
If a person is convicted of a crime that comes under both federal and state offence, their case is handled separately by both courts because the federal and state court is not the same. But that does not mean that the same person will be charged with the same offence twice.