In the realm of law, crimes are considered to be within a jurisdiction. This means that the trials for certain crimes are the responsibility of certain areas of the country. At the most basic division, jurisdiction is broken into two levels: state level and federal level.
States usually have jurisdiction over most crimes that occur within that state. This may include murder, theft, trespassing, and other actions that break federal and state criminal laws. Some crimes are under both federal and state jurisdiction, meaning that the trials can be heard in state or federal courts.
Some particular crimes are considered federal offenses even though they occur in certain states. These crimes are considered crimes against the federal government and may include espionage, conspiracy against the government, illegal alien smuggling, and other crimes that threaten the federal government.
Other cases that may share joint jurisdiction as previously mentioned may become exclusively federal crimes depending on the magnitude of the crime. Examples of this include major cases of embezzling, bank fraud, and drug-related crimes.
In many cases, federal crimes are considered more severe than state crimes because they put more people in danger or affect a greater number of individuals. When an individual is convicted of a federal crime, he or she may serve time in a federal prison as opposed to a state jail.
Federal crimes often carry severe punishments, and individuals who commit them often see decades or even life in prison. These sentences may be in addition to severe fines that an individual is ordered to pay.