Some crimes can be either a federal or a state offense, such as the crime of robbery. While many people who rob a person or a store end up in state court, there are certain circumstances that could land you before a federal judge and jury to defend your freedom.
To be guilty of federal robbery, the crime must involve the federal government or its interests. FindLaw breaks down some common instances when forcibly taking property or money constitutes a federal offense.
Federally insured banks
Robbing a bank is very likely to invite federal prosecution. This is because the federal government insures deposits made in many banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. Different crimes such as extortion, burglary, taking hostages or using a weapon while trying to rob a bank can all fall under federal jurisdiction.
There are a variety of robberies apart from banks that could incur federal charges. Robbing a postal worker or post office is one example. You may run afoul of the law by committing robbery under the jurisdiction of maritime law, such as stealing property while on the high seas. Taking controlled substances from government custody can also invite stiff penalties.
In addition, committing interstate robbery is punishable as a federal robbery crime. This could take the form of stealing a vehicle that another party is transporting over state lines or breaking into an automobile transporting interstate or foreign goods.
Be aware of your situation
Whether the Arkansas government or the federal government has jurisdiction over your case will inform your defense in court as well as the punishment you could receive. You might end up with stiffer penalties if convicted by a federal court. So it is important to recognize whether your case truly involves federal property or the interests of the U.S. government.