When it comes to determining what makes a crime a federal offense, it is all about which body of government established the law that was broken. Although most of the crimes committed in the United States fall under the jurisdiction of the government of the state where the crime was committed, there are some crimes that actually fall under the jurisdiction of the national government.
This means that although a crime may take place in the state of Wisconsin, if the law that was broken is a federal offense, or rather, a federal crime, then the jurisdiction for dealing with and prosecuting the crime belongs to the federal government. These cases will typically be handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and those who are charged with federal crimes will be prosecuted in federal court.
Although federal tax crimes are discussed in another section of the federal code, most of the federal crimes in the United States are noted under Title 18 of the United States Code. Depending on how serious the crime is, a federal offense may be a felony or a misdemeanor. This typically depends on how severe the crime is and what level of punishment the national government imposes when someone breaks a federal law.
Some examples of federal offenses include bank robbery, counterfeiting and immigration violations. Crimes that occur across state lines, such as kidnapping or interstate drug trafficking, are also considered federal offenses. Even white collar crimes such as insider trading fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Defendants who are facing charges for federal crimes may benefit from the counsel of an experienced Wisconsin criminal attorney.
Source: WiseGeek, "What Is a Federal Offense?" Christopher John, Oct. 20, 2014