Are You Charged in State and Federal Court for the Same Crime?

April 27, 2023

It is not uncommon for a criminal defendant to be charged with the same crime in both state and federal court. This occurs when the alleged crime violates both state and federal laws. In these cases, the defendant may face prosecution in both the state and federal court systems, which can result in two separate trials and potentially two separate sentences.

One of the most common reasons for a defendant to be charged in both state and federal court is when the alleged crime involves the violation of both state and federal drug laws. This can occur when the defendant is accused of manufacturing, distributing, or possessing a controlled substance.

Another common reason for a defendant to be charged in both state and federal court is when the alleged crime involves a violation of federal civil rights laws. This can occur when the defendant is accused of committing a crime, such as assault or murder, based on the victim’s race, religion, national origin, or another protected status.

In some cases, the defendant may face charges in both state and federal court for the same crime simultaneously. In other cases, the defendant may first face charges in one court system and then be charged in the other court system at a later time.

When a defendant is charged in both courts for the same crime, they have the right to a fair trial in both court systems. In most cases, the defendant will be represented by separate attorneys for each court system, although in some cases, the same attorney may represent the defendant in both court systems.

In order to avoid the possibility of a defendant facing double jeopardy, which is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the state and federal courts will coordinate the prosecution process. This coordination is done through the principle of dual sovereignty, which allows for different sovereigns, such as state and federal governments, to prosecute the same person for the same crime without violating double jeopardy.

In some cases, the state and federal court systems may reach a plea bargain agreement, where the defendant pleads guilty to one set of charges in exchange for the dismissal of the other set of charges. This is done to avoid the possibility of the defendant facing multiple trials for the same crime and to ensure that the defendant is held accountable for their actions.

Contact Us for Help in Southern California

While most lawyers are competent to handle basic criminal cases, it is much different in the federal justice system. Retaining the wrong lawyer could result in irreparable harm to your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. We can help you navigate through this unfamiliar process and provide you with options. Attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California. This distinction has been obtained by only a small percentage of California criminal defense lawyers.

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