When white-collar criminal charges catch the spotlight, it’s usually because they’re being charged at the federal level. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that only the federal government files white-collar criminal charges.
Whether you face state or federal charges will depend on the circumstances involved in your alleged crime. The primary determining factor is whether the suspected criminal activity involved multiple states.
Did the alleged crime impact interstate commerce?
The U.S. Constitution provides the federal government with the power to investigate suspected white-collar criminal activity. This authority is based on the interstate commerce clauses in the Constitution. Because most white-collar crimes involve financial matters, there is often an effect on business transactions between the states.
For example, if you allegedly embezzled funds in Ohio and deposited the proceeds in a bank account in New York, you’ve crossed state lines. As such, the federal government could investigate this transaction and could file federal charges against you. Any type of questionable business that involves the use of the U.S. Postal Service, wire transfers, or investors in more than one state is likely to ping the fed’s radar.
State charges or federal charges: What’s the difference?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re charged at the state level or the federal level. All criminal charges are serious, and you need to establish a serious defense. However, the federal government has a vast array of resources available to help them prosecute a case. Also, the potential penalties for a federal criminal conviction can be much harsher than those handed down by a state. Regardless of the type of charge you face, you should discuss your legal options with a professional who has experience defending against white-collar criminal charges.