Your attorney will advise you that a large amount of discretion takes place in cases that involve both federal and state laws. The Offices of the United States Attorney might not prosecute a case for a variety of reasons, even if that case would ordinarily fall under their jurisdiction. That said, they’ll have the option of passing the case to a District Attorney in the state of New York. If the District Attorneys believe the case warrants the attention of the federal government, the office might turn the case to the United States Attorney.
There are rare instances when the State District Attorney, State Attorney General, and United States Attorney will agree that the defendant should be charged both under state law and under federal law. In places where the New York state law overlaps with the federal law, a defendant must be charged either according to the state law or according to the federal law. This is because of the rule of double jeopardy. Double jeopardy refers to a defendant being tried twice for the same crime. Two trials are prohibited in the Constitution of the United States.
That said, there are times when the state law does not have a direct overlap with federal laws. Different acts are required to have been committed before a defendant is able to be charged by both the state and federal courts. This heightens the importance of a skilled criminal lawyer who knows how to distinguish between multiple cases and handle the demands of each case with expertise.
The Power of the Federal Government
The federal government has an unusual amount of power regarding criminal law. One example is in the use of marijuana. Some states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana and permit its sale. But federal law still prohibits the distribution and possession of marijuana. Even though selling and possessing marijuana is no longer prohibited by state law, the federal government has the right to prosecute people for the selling and possessing of marijuana because it does not comply with federal regulations.
The federal government has historically had the ability to use its extensive resources to prosecute crimes that are too big for one state to handle. It’s also been used to prosecute related crimes that occurred in several states, so that there wouldn’t need to be a separate trial in each individual state. Double jeopardy prevents the federal government from prosecuting a person when that person is already being prosecuted through the state, but it’s important to have an attorney who can navigate the complexities of these charges.