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When a crime crosses state lines, jurisdiction and the legal process may become complicated and unclear. So, what are interstate crimes and how are they prosecuted?

General Rules

In general, states directly involved with the crime have the right to prosecute an offender. This means that law enforcement can communicate with other jurisdictions to confer on a case that started in their state or involves someone from their state. For example, if a person kills their significant other in Illinois and flees to Florida and kills a relative, both Illinois and Florida police could investigate the crime.

However, it is also important to note that the federal government has jurisdiction over matters that cross state lines whether it be the construction of interstate roadways or crime. Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government regulates interstate commerce which ensures that federal agents are protected in their involvement with state officials in these cases.

Understanding Jurisdiction

In both cases mentioned above, jurisdiction is a key factor when determining who will investigate and prosecute the case. There are different divisions and classifications of law enforcement from local police which have county jurisdiction, state police who have statewide jurisdiction, and federal agencies that oversee national investigations. There are also federal agencies that are responsible for investigating international crimes committed by or to a U.S. citizen.

As mentioned previously, interstate crimes are under the explicit purview of the federal government through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, state officials can also participate in the investigation when it applies to their jurisdiction.

For example, a person kidnaps a child in Ohio and drives them to Florida. The Ohio state police and local law enforcement where the child was taken can investigate the case and Florida police can do the same. However, the FBI will probably oversee the case and the crime may be prosecuted in federal court.

Federal Crimes

When a federal agency has jurisdiction over a case, it may or may not be a federal crime. However, if the crime itself is considered by the federal government to be illegal, the crime could go to federal court. Interstate crimes are most likely to be charged as federal crimes.

Federal crimes have serious consequences including possible prison time at a maximum or super maximum security federal prison. Additionally, those who immigrate to the United States and are involved in an interstate crime could lose their status and face removal.

A Fierce Defense

Federal crimes are serious, and the consequences can last a lifetime. While interstate crimes often involve terrible criminal acts, individuals may be charged with a federal crime wrongfully. It is crucial that anyone accused of a federal crime obtain legal support.

Have you been charged with a federal interstate crime? Contact the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A. as soon as possible.

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