In the United States, there are two parallel systems of criminal justice that function together to prosecute all crimes. Most crime is handled by the state where the crime actually occurs, but the federal government has jurisdiction over a limited number of offenses.

A local crime in Jackson related to human trafficking was prosecuted by the federal government.

Man sentenced for exploiting minors

An investigation revealed that the suspect had transported a minor from the state of Tennessee to Mississippi in early 2018 for the purposes of having the victim engage in various sex acts. He advertised these services on the website backpage.com. The Department of Justice along with various other federal agencies had brought the case as part of their Project Safe Childhood initiative. The local Jackson police were also involved in the case, but it was ultimately prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office rather than state prosecutors.

 The federal government has sentenced the 24 year old male suspect to 12 years in federal prison for the felony charges, followed by another few years of supervised release, along with a $1500 fine. 

Why was this prosecuted by the federal government even though it occured in Jackson? 

The federal government only gets involved in certain kinds of offenses that usually include movement between multiple states or borders with other nations. These include:

  • Interstate crimes such as drug trafficking or sex trafficking
  • Immigration offenses
  • Crimes that occur on certain native American reservations that are technically owned by the federal government
  • Crimes related to taxation and banking because the federal government regulates these bodies
  • Unlawful access to federal lands or illegal intrusions upon federal properties
  • Certain other offenses involving areas of federal jurisdiction like the military

The local government prosecutes just about everything else including thefts, traffic and motor vehicle offenses, drug possession, violent crimes and robbery, property damage and vandalism, trespassing, and murder. The federal government also has its own police forces, but they tend to not be as visible as local departments in most places due to their limited jurisdiction. 

Does it matter whether a lawyer defends someone in state or federal court? 

A criminal lawyer needs to be licensed in either the state where the courts are located, or the federal bar for the relevant district in order to handle cases in those buildings. It is important to have a lawyer who is experienced in either court system to defend the relevant charges. This is because the same crime may have different elements or procedural rules that need to be followed depending on which court system has jurisdiction. There are also other factors to be aware of, such as the fact that the federal government usually has a higher conviction rate along with less protections for defendants, so a federal defense attorney practicing in your area must be a specialist who is prepared to handle the case.

Speak to a defense attorney today 

If you have been charged with any crime, contact Ballard Law PLLC for further information. A criminal record has serious consequences, and your case should only be entrusted to the most skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.