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What Are Some Common Federal Crimes?

Individuals charged with serious offenses will be prosecuted by either the state where the crime occurred or the federal government. The majority of crimes, such as robberies, assaults, and thefts are are handled by the state and prosecuted by a district attorney. Some serious crimes, however, fall under federal jurisdiction and are prosecuted in federal court. This article takes a look at some of the more common offenses that fall under the authority of the United States government.

Tax Fraud

A very common federal crime is tax fraud. If you fail to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service or refuse to pay the tax that you owe, the federal government has the authority to file charges against you. If you are convicted of tax fraud, you may only face civil penalties, such as paying a fine. In some instances, however, a tax fraud conviction can lead to significant jail time. An important point to note is that tax fraud does not occur if you simply make an error on your tax return. The false or incorrect statement on the return must be intentional.

Identity Theft

Another frequently seen federal crime is identify theft, which the government prosecutes under several federal laws, including the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998. The penalties for an identity theft conviction can be quite severe, as the law allows for a possible sentence of 15 years in prison. Fines and the loss of any property used in the commission of assuming someone else's identity may be imposed as well.

Mail Fraud

The federal government has jurisdiction to prosecute mail fraud under Title 18 of the United States Code. Typically, mail fraud involves using the interstate mails to to get something of value using false pretenses or using the mail to distribute counterfeit goods. The United States Postal Service does not have to be involved for mail fraud to occur. The statute against mail fraud also applies to private mail carriers. Penalties for mail fraud are very heavy in some instances, as a prison sentence of 30 years is possible.

Crimes Committed on Federal Property 

Crimes occurring on federal property also fall under the jurisdiction of the US government. This includes crimes that happen in federal buildings as well as on land owned by the federal government, such as national parks and national forests. This also includes Indian reservations and airplanes in flight.

If you are charged with a federal crime, the best course of action is to immediately engage the services of a federal criminal lawyer with experience in handling these types of cases.