Author Topic: State vs Federal crime  (Read 4256 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Snooks

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2402
State vs Federal crime
« on: May 04, 2012, 08:19:01 AM »
I wasn't sure whether to put this here or in the entertainment folder.  I've been watching Alcatraz on UK tv (no spoilers please!) and I'm a bit confused; not by the time travelling criminals but by what crimes puts you in federal prison.  I know Alcatraz was a federal prison (I've been there to visit so I know the basics of the place) but a lot of the criminals who have reappeared seem to be killers and I thought murder was a state crime because it's illegal everywhere and it's only federal if it happens on federal land.  I read a book a little while ago where the lead character had murdered her husband and one of the people she's in prison with comments that she's lucky the body was found on federal property otherwise she'd have been in a nastier state prison.  I did a bit of looking up on Wikipedia but I'm none the wiser.  Can anyone out there help me?

JenJay

  • I'm a nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5916
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 08:31:26 AM »
Bank robberies are federal crimes since banks are federally insured. If the criminal crosses state lines while committing the crime that will bump it to federal. If the person is wanted for crimes in numerous states sometimes the feds will step in and take over (depending on what the crimes were, otherwise the person will serve time in one state and then be transferred to another). I believe if the person becomes part of an ongoing multi-state investigation (like a drug ring) the feds will take over. Um.... trying to recall the various reasons DH has explained to me.  ;)

We toured Alcatraz two years ago and DH's federal credentials got us a special tour into the restricted areas - including the "dungeon" underneath. It was amazing! I had expected to be bored all day and instead DH had to practically drag me back to the boat that evening. One of the guides took us to a few cells that had housed famous criminals and insisted on taking our pictures. It was really fun!

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21370
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2012, 08:40:56 AM »
Another example - somebody tried to rob somebody carrying the mail.  Stupid for two reasons - he was a federal employee, making it a federal crime and he was an ex-marine so he beat the crud out of them.

Let's say you commit a federal crime in Michigan. Michigan does not have the death penalty.  But the federal government does.  So you can get the death penalty for a crime you commit in Michigan under certain circmstances.

(I seem to remember this being an issue when there was the sniper around DC who shot some federal employees)

ETA: My understanding is that they can put you in any federal prison in the country so it can be across the country and if it is a hradship for your family to visit, too bad.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 08:47:24 AM by Sharnita »

JenJay

  • I'm a nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5916
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 08:50:29 AM »
Another example - somebody tried to rob somebody carrying the mail.  Stupid for two reasons - he was a federal employee, making it a federal crime and he was an ex-marine so he beat the crud out of them.

Let's say you commit a federal crime in Michigan. Michigan does not have the death penalty.  But the federal government does.  So you can get the death penalty for a crime you commit in Michigan under certain circmstances.

(I seem to remember this being an issue when there was the sniper around DC who shot some federal employees)

Sharnita's reply reminded me -

Mail is federally protected, too, so tampering with mail is a federal crime, as is sending something illegal through the mail.

I'm not sure about all federal employees, but I know that assaulting a federal law enforcement officer is a federal crime.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 08:52:15 AM by JenJay »

Snooks

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2402
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2012, 09:22:51 AM »
JenJay - the "dungeon" sounds amazing, was was it?

Ok I think I'm getting my head around how you can end up in federal prison  ;)  The two Alcatraz episodes I've seen where I'm not sure how they ended up there are the guy with the landmines (all the crimes happened in San Francisco), and the guy who poisoned his classmates at a highschool reunion - are schools federal property?

JenJay

  • I'm a nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5916
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2012, 09:37:43 AM »
http://www.notfrisco2.com/alcatraz/faq/faq2.html

The upper hospital area was neat, too. The bathtubs where they did shock therapy on inmates and one rusty old surgical table were especially creepy!

I haven't seen the show but I know that they take a lot of liberties with facts, in general, for entertainment. It's torture watching things with DH sometimes because it drives him crazy. "We don't do that!" and "That would never happen!", especially conserning inmate escape. lol

PastryGoddess

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4626
    • My Image Portfolio and Store
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 09:44:25 AM »
The landmines might have happened on federal land or said person might have crossed state lines to get the materials for them.  The guy with the poison may have used the mail to get his poison delivered or because said poison was a controlled substance may have triggered federal law, not state.


Snooks

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2402
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 09:53:33 AM »
http://www.notfrisco2.com/alcatraz/faq/faq2.html

The upper hospital area was neat, too. The bathtubs where they did shock therapy on inmates and one rusty old surgical table were especially creepy!

I haven't seen the show but I know that they take a lot of liberties with facts, in general, for entertainment. It's torture watching things with DH sometimes because it drives him crazy. "We don't do that!" and "That would never happen!", especially conserning inmate escape. lol

That's really interesting, I do remember now that there was a lower level to one of the gatehouse type buildings that was used by the army.  It's best never to watch a show with anyone who has a professional interest in the subject matter - I refuse to watch house building shows with DH now because I get a running commentary about how they're doing it wrong.

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6656
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 10:44:33 AM »
I've served on both a Federal and a State Grand Jury.  The difference in the cases was marked.

In the main, violent crimes and theft tend to be under state or local jusisdiction.

Federal crimes were more likely to involve fraud because multiple jurisdictions are involved, and the mails or financial institutions were used. 

We recently had an interesting situation.  A relative of the Police Commissioner was accused of rape.  The case would normally be state but,  because of the family connection, the case was immediately taken over by the Feds. 

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 11:00:06 AM »
Essentially what it boils down to - was the crime something that affected the nation, or just the state?  If the crime involves national (federal) land, national (federal) employees, national (federal) funds, crossing state lines, etc then its a federal crime.  If the crime was local its state.

I think one exception is kidnapping though, which I believe is a federal crime even if totally localized within a state.

Slartibartfast

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 11658
    • Nerdy Necklaces - my Etsy shop!
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 12:05:13 PM »
Essentially what it boils down to - was the crime something that affected the nation, or just the state?  If the crime involves national (federal) land, national (federal) employees, national (federal) funds, crossing state lines, etc then its a federal crime.  If the crime was local its state.

I think one exception is kidnapping though, which I believe is a federal crime even if totally localized within a state.

There are a lot of surprising exceptions, and much of it seems to come down to the individual law enforcement personnel working on the case - and politics.  A high-profile prosecution might make or break someone's career, so sometimes cases that are on the line ("he did this, but we could also call it that") can get tipped one way or the other.  Usually once someone has done something bad enough to get both the state and the federal government's attention, they have broken multiple laws - the laws are written to overlap on purpose.  So a single criminal incident might fall under one federal law and three state laws for different aspects of the same action.

Gwywnnydd

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1644
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 10:32:59 PM »

ETA: My understanding is that they can put you in any federal prison in the country so it can be across the country and if it is a hradship for your family to visit, too bad.

This is very true. I have a friend who is serving a federal sentence. There are very few women's facilities, and when the system was determining where she would serve her time, the additional requirement that she not be placed in the same facility as any of her co-conspirators left one option. So, she's serving about as far across the country from her family as it is possible to *get* and still be inside the continental US...

JenJay

  • I'm a nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5916
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2012, 12:21:55 PM »
ETA: My understanding is that they can put you in any federal prison in the country so it can be across the country and if it is a hradship for your family to visit, too bad.

A person is usually sentenced to the prison nearest their crime unless that causes some kind of conflict or there isn't an appropriate facility available (Say you've committed a white collar crime and been sentenced to a camp but the nearest institution is a penetentiary.) They'll also transfer inmates to higher/lower security prisons based on their conduct, to break up gang activity or as punishment for harassing a staff member. There have been cases where an inmate will try to have an associate contact a staff member (or their family) outside of the prison. That'll get them a one-way bus ticket across the country.

That said, if an inmate has a record of good behavior they can apply for a transfer to a facility closer to their home (As long as they're eligible to be housed in said facility).

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17333
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2012, 01:58:36 AM »
JenJay... is the special tour you got a regular thing for those with fed credentials or was it an extra special thing?  DH is a 'fed' and if we ever go, I would love to be able to take the special tour as well. 

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17333
Re: State vs Federal crime
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2012, 02:04:17 AM »
Any crime to do with customs, smuggling (goods or humans), illegal crossing into the country are also federal crimes.  Even though many states in the south deal with illegal immigration into their respective states, it is the US border patrol (a federal agency) that deals with that. 


I also believe armed robbery is a federal crime.  Doesn't have to be a bank.  Kidnapping is also federal.