Do you think that state crimes should or should not become federal violations?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question is actually moot, as state crimes cannot be federal violations by virtue of the nature of our Federal system. The Federal government only has those powers which can reasonably implied from the language of the Constitution. The provisions of the Constitution have been construed quite broadly, especially the Commerce Clause of Article I Section 8; however the Federal Government always has been and must remain a government of limited powers.

The states have no such limitation; in fact states hold the police power, the power to effectively legislate to protect and promote the health, welfare, public morals, public safety and morals of its citizens. The Federal Government has no such power. This arrangement is reiterated in the language of the tenth amendment to the Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There is a common misconception that federal crimes are somehow more serious than state crimes. This is not necessarily the case; in fact there are more instances of severe punishment imposed by state offences than federal offenses. Unless the offense charged involves some federal issue, it cannot be a federal offense.

bor | Student

Larry, you may find this interesting, a case just a few weeks ago. The "Jurisdiction" the feds claimed seems odd to me. I know it has been established in a # of other ways by and through intertstate and foreign commerce, but not like here.


Poster, it is the primary function of the states, not the federal government to pass the criminal laws.  States and the federal government are "Seperate Sovereigns" for criminal law jurisdiction, namely Double Jeopardy. 

At times there can be Concurrent Jurisdiction for crimes on federal property, and at times it is Exclusive to the feds.

While it is Constitutional for state peace officer's to arrest for federal crimes, federal police, FBI, ATF (if it is still called that), etc., can not arrest for state crimes.