State Crime vs. Federal Crime

Tennessee has a criminal code and legal system separate from the federal government. This has some interesting implications for crime in Tennessee. For example, while federal law may be applied to most violent crimes, such as assault, armed robbery, and murder, state law may be applied to property crimes, such as petty theft and vandalism. State and federal law are sometimes applied equally, such as for drug charges. This can lead to different punishments for the same crime depending on which law is violated and where it is prosecuted.

What are Some Federal Crimes in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, federal crimes can include a wide range of activities, from drug trafficking to bank robbery. Here are some of the most common federal crimes in Tennessee: 

  • Drug Trafficking: Drug trafficking is the act of transporting or trafficking narcotics, psychotropic substances, or other controlled substances across state lines. Trafficking includes the transportation of any quantity of drugs. The federal government has taken jurisdiction over drug trafficking as a criminal offense due to its proximity to organized crime and its effects on national security. Federal drug trafficking crimes are often divided into two categories — commercial trafficking and distribution. Both refer to the transportation of large quantities of narcotics for sale on the black market.
  • Money Laundering: Money laundering is the process of transforming the proceeds of crime or illegal activity into legitimate financial assets. This can include moving money through legitimate financial institutions, such as banks, or making use of legal means to disguise the illicit origins of the money. Money laundering cases are often taken up by the federal government because it can be used to help conceal other crimes, such as drug trafficking or terrorist activity.
  • Cyber Crimes: Cyber crimes are any acts that involve the misuse of information technology, including computer sabotage, theft of trade secrets, and email hacking. Cybercrimes can be federal crimes or state crimes. Federal cybercrimes include offenses such as wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, and computer intrusion into a government facility. 
  • Child Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse is a criminal offense that involves any contact between an adult and a child for the purpose of sexual gratification. The FBI defines child sexual abuse as any form of sexual contact, including but not limited to kissing, touching, fondling, and penetrative sex. It may also involve a lewd online exchange between an adult and a minor. It may also involve child trafficking. 
  • Bank Robbery: Bank robbery is a federal crime that involves robbing a federally insured financial institution. This crime typically involves using violence or threats of violence to rob the bank. Bank robbery often involves armed theft from the bank, which can include taking money or other valuable items.

The complete list of criminal federal crimes in Tennessee is included in Title 18 of the U.S. Code.

What are Some State Crimes in Tennessee?

State crimes in Tennessee can be classified under a variety of headings but are mostly split into  felonies, misdemeanors, or minor infractions.

1. Felonies in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a felony is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. The following are some of the most common types of felonies in Tennessee: 

  • Murder: This charge is typically reserved for serious violent crimes, such as killing another person with the intent to cause bodily harm or while using a deadly weapon. Convicted murderers may be imprisoned for life in prison or sentenced to death. 
  • Kidnapping: A person who kidnaps another person with the intent to compel the victim to do something against their will can be charged with this felony. Kidnapping charges can carry heavy penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 
  • Rape: Rape is defined as sexual penetration without the consent of the victim. Convicted rapists may face lengthy jail sentences and substantial fines.

2. Misdemeanors in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by a fine, up to 12 months in jail, or both. There are three classes of misdemeanors in Tennessee: class A misdemeanors are the most serious offenses and carry maximum penalties of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail; class B misdemeanors are usually more minor offenses that may result in a fine only or a maximum jail time of six months; class C misdemeanors are punishable by a fine and a maximum of 30 days in jail.

The most common misdemeanors in Tennessee are traffic offenses. Traffic offenses that are classified as misdemeanors in Tennessee include driving without a license, failure to obey a stop sign, and running a red light. Other misdemeanors in Tennessee include petty larceny, public intoxication, and unarmed assault.

Misdemeanors may be moved upward and classified as felonies if they involve preplanned violence or a victim under the age of 18.

The complete list of felony and misdemeanor Tennessee state crime penalties is included in Tennessee Code Title 40 – Criminal Procedure (Chapter 35).

3. Minor Infractions in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a minor infraction is defined as an offense that does not attract serious criminal penalties or fines. These violations can include things like traffic tickets and parking citations. Minor infractions are typically handled with a warning or a fine, but can also result in community service or probation.

State Crime vs. Federal Crime in Tennessee

State crime and federal crime are two different types of crime that often involve different elements. State crimes are prosecuted by the state government, while federal crimes are prosecuted by the federal government. The two systems have their own sets of rules and penalties, so it is important to know which type of crime you are dealing with in order to protect yourself and your rights.

If you are in Tennessee and you need help with either a state or a federal crime, your best bet would be to contact an attorney at 615-NASH-LAW. We have extensive experience working with both federal and state systems, and we can help you get the best possible outcome for your case.

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