Differences Between a Federal Felony and State Felony

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Crimes are sorted into different categories classified as misdemeanor or felony charges. Felonies are crimes of the highest level. A person can be charged with either state or federal felonies. Sometimes both state and federal agents pursue a person for the same crime, but there are legal guidelines to how that is done to avoid punishing a person twice for the same crime. The implication, therefore, is that the state of Missouri cannot prosecute a person for crimes that the federal government is prosecuting.

How State and Federal Felonies are Different

The largest difference between state and federal felonies involves jurisdiction. Federal prosecutors and the federal government prosecute cases involving people charged with federal crimes, while Missouri prosecutes defendants who have broken state laws. Whether a person is charged with a federal or state crime might depend on where the incident took place. If a person commits a crime on federal property or in more than one state, that crime will often be classified as a federal crime.

Another significant difference between state and federal felonies is the penalties. Federal felonies are often more serious state felonies, thus the penalties for federal offenses are often more severe than what a person would receive after being sentenced by state courts.

A third difference includes the people involved. If a felony involves federal officers, then the federal government will pursue that case. Crimes that involve federal institutions such as the Internal Revenue Authority, Medicaid, or other federal bodies are a federal matter. Additionally, felonies that involve immigration or customs violation are also federal matters.

Common State Felony Charges in Missouri

Missouri categorizes felonies into five classes, with Class A as the most serious and Class E as the least serious. Examples of crimes within the different felony classes are as follows:

  • Class A felonies in Missouri include 1st-degree murder, 1st-degree kidnapping, treason, sexual exploitation of a minor, etc.
  • Class B felonies in Missouri include voluntary manslaughter, 2nd-degree child molestation, money laundering, and 2nd-degree robbery.
  • Class C felonies in Missouri include identity theft over $25,000 and below $75,000 in value, 2nd-degree drug possession and trafficking, 1st-degree sexual abuse, etc.
  • Class D felonies in Missouri include unlawful use of a weapon, 2nd-degree rape, forgery, and abuse or neglect of a child.
  • Class E felonies in Missouri include parental kidnapping, child abduction, stalking, invasion of privacy, etc.

In Missouri, the basic allowed imprisonment sentences for the different felony classes are:

  • Class A felony: at least 10 years and no more than 30 years, or life in prison.
  • Class B felony: at least five and no more than 15 years.
  • Class C felony: at least three and no more than 10 years.
  • Class D felony: no more than seven years.
  • Class E felony: no more than four years.

What Crimes are Federal Felonies?

Common federal criminal cases include:

Federal convictions are generally harsher than state convictions. A federal convict will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, while in states a felon can serve 50 percent of the sentence. Federal law creates fewer opportunities for prosecutors to offer felony plea bargains and federal judges have to follow stricter sentencing guidelines for felony convictions, often harsh and extended.

What To Do If You’re Facing Federal or State Felony Charges in St. Louis, Missouri

The first step is contacting a St. Louis criminal defense attorney. You have the right to legal representation no matter the accused crime. It is best not to speak with law enforcement officers or answer questions unless your lawyer is present. The only words you need to say are “I want my attorney present.” Everything you say to your lawyer is protected under the attorney-client relationship privileges. The criminal defense lawyers at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP have the knowledge, skill, and experience you need on your side when facing state or federal felony charges.

How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

Our dedicated attorneys have represented clients facing a wide range of criminal charges and we know how to handle each case. Felonies are not always well investigated or prosecuted. Sometimes prosecutors are angling for better jobs and the people can fall victim to the politics. The law can be misused and you could be the collateral damage. We can investigate, build a strong defense, and may even be able to have the charges lowered or dropped.

We can work to:

  • Have the case dropped on legal technicalities 
  • Have the felony reclassified 
  • Litigate for a felony expungement to clear your record 
  • Contest federal charges to have the state take up the case
  • Challenge the felony conviction through appeals 
  • Negotiate plea bargains for lighter sentencing

Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP has over 75 years of combined experience in criminal defense cases and will diligently fight to protect your rights. Contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation!

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