At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney represents clients throughout California who have been charged with crimes at both the state and federal levels.

While criminal laws are generally prosecuted at the state level, certain offenses involving interstate commerce or on federal lands can be charged at the federal level.

While cases will generally be filed in federal or state court, they can be prosecuted simultaneously when the conduct violates federal and state law.

Below, our San Diego County criminal defense attorney explains why this is true.

There is a Difference Between Double Jeopardy and Dual Sovereign Doctrine

federal and state law

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” is part of the famed “Double Jeopardy Clause” that ensures no one can be tried for the same crime twice.

However, the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prevent overlapping trials by the state and federal governments over the same alleged offense.

We live under a state and a federal government system, meaning the “Dual Sovereignty Doctrine” principle applies to applicable criminal cases. In short, since each government system charges a person separately, it is not considered double jeopardy, even if the charges stem from the same alleged crime.

If both governments see fit to press charges, it is technically legal.

Have You Been Charged with a State or Federal Crime in California? The Griffin Law Office Can Help

If you have been arrested for a state crime that may be increased to federal charges in California, contact our skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help build your defense to pursue the best outcome for your case by calling 619-269-2131 today.