What makes a crime a Federal Offense?

Introduction to Federal Charges in Oklahoma

The Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys at Cannon & Associates are FIERCE ADVOCATES for those charged with any and all federal crimes. We have successfully defending many clients in federal court across Oklahoma. 

We are led by John P. Cannon, a former Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General who prosecuted crimes in state court before becoming the experienced Edmond criminal defense attorney he is today. A successful defense can result in a case dismissal, dropped charges, or a not-guilty verdict at your federal criminal trial. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a federal crime, call us for a free confidential case evaluation. Edmond Federal Crimes Defense Attorney John Cannon is a FIERCE ADVOCATE and available to talk to you today. Call Cannon & Associates at (405) 657-2323 and prepare your defense. 

Oklahoma Criminal Charges in State Court v. Federal Court

You could face criminal charges or indictment in multiple jurisdictions for the same conduct at the same time, if the crime or crimes committed violate federal and state law. You may be subject to federal prosecution and penalty if you commit any act that is in violation of federal law or the Constitution. The majority of federal crimes in the United States involve violations of federal law based on alleged “effects” to interstate commerce. However, the concepts and court decisions concerning the intricacies of “Interstate Commerce” violations are very complex.   

What Crimes Fall Under Federal Jurisdiction?

The following areas of offense federal prosecution if any of the following are true:

  • Crime involved federal law enforcement – crimes against members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), National Park employees or Park Rangers, Border Patrol, or other government agencies.
  •  Crime occurred on federal property – crimes that occur on military bases, National Parks, Federal Buildings, Native American Reservations, and other federal land. 
  • Crime physically crossed state lines – crimes involve crossing state lines including kidnapping, transporting illegal drugs across state lines, and transporting stolen property across state lines.
  • Criminal activity inherently crosses state lines – some crimes do not require physically crossing state lines to implicate multiple state criminal activity or cross-state criminal activity, including but not limited to: distribution of child pornography, drug trafficking, RICO, mail fraud, human trafficking, and Internet-based offenses such as white collar offenses.
  • Immigration, customs, or human rights offenses – illegal immigration, falsifying customs documents or forms, international human trafficking, and civil rights violations.
  • Public corruption – Bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, nepotism, the 2019 college admission scandal, or other abuses of authority.

The Process under Federal Jurisdiction

Federal criminal procedure is largely uniform across the United States.  Prosecution for federal offenses almost exclusively occurs in one of the 94 federal judicial districts. Oklahoma has three federal districts: Western District of Oklahoma, Northern District of Oklahoma, and Eastern District of Oklahoma, which is far greater than the majority of states, such as Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas that each only have one federal district. 

Almost all federal crimes are prosecuted by one of the United States Attorney’s Offices. In Oklahoma, as previously stated there are three: Western District of Oklahoma (“WDOK”) in Oklahoma City; Northern District of Oklahoma (“NDOK”) in Tulsa; and Eastern District of Oklahoma (“EDOK”) in Muskogee. Similar to state court, federal prosecutors and their offices do not investigate federal crimes. Rather, federal investigative agencies, i.e. FBI, CIA, ATF, IRS, Homeland Security, and others investigate crimes and present investigations to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

In general, federal prosecution in Oklahoma involves longer and more in-depth investigations; however, once a grand jury indicts you, federal prosecution is a faster process than state criminal court.  

Prosecution in State versus Federal Court

As stated above, some criminal activity can be prosecuted by both in state court, District Attorney’s Office, and in federal court, United States Attorney’s Office. When both jurisdictions have authority, it is called concurrent jurisdiction. Unfortunately, this can lead to being prosecuted in multiple jurisdictions for the same acts, which is not prohibited by Double Jeopardy as both courts are separate sovereign courts. Hypothetically, a soldier accused of Rape on Tinker Air Force base could be prosecuted in the Western District of Oklahoma, Oklahoma County, Military Court-Martial, and Midwest City municipal court; four separate prosecutions for one criminal act.

Federal Offense Punishments

Federal judges are required to apply the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in considering the appropriate sentence for a defendant. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are an attempt at uniformity in punishment across the country; however, judges have discretion to deviate or grant a downward departure from the guideline range as appropriate. Similar to state court, prior felony convictions can increase the punishment range for offenders in federal court. 

Your criminal record determines which of six criminal history categories you fall under. All prior criminal misconduct can be considered by a federal judge to determine the criminal history category you fall under. Criminal History Category I is the least serious and generally reserved for those without a criminal record. Criminal History Category VI is the most serious and is reserved for offenders with serious criminal records. 

“Career Offender” is a categorization for defendants with a crime of violence or drug trafficking and two or more felony convictions for those crimes; however, in some instances prior state misdemeanor offenses can be used for the “Career Offender” calculation. 

 As a result of the Truth in Sentencing (“TIS”) public policy stance, in federal criminal court; offenders will serve close to the exact sentence an offender receives, as opposed to parole or early release in state criminal court. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was enacted in 1994 and created the Truth in Sentencing Program. Mandatory minimums also increase the prison sentence a federal offender will receive compared to similar conduct in state court criminal proceedings.   

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers serving Accused in Oklahoma

At Cannon & Associates, we provide experienced federal criminal defense for those accused of state and federal crimes in Edmond, Oklahoma City, and beyond in Oklahoma. We understand the federal grand jury process, federal law enforcement agency policies, and the guidelines governing federal criminal proceedings and penalties for federal crimes.

We offer free confidential case evaluations and can advise you on the steps of federal prosecution in Oklahoma, if you are under investigation or have been indicted in Oklahoma federal criminal court. 


Experience matters when you are facing federal indictment in Oklahoma or the potential loss of your freedom. It is important to know the Oklahoma federal criminal defense lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of federal criminal defense and federal sentencing guidelines. John Cannon, owner of Cannon & Associates is a former prosecutor and very experienced in the law and issues associated with fighting federal criminal charges and criminal jury trial. He has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40 in criminal defense. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and Fight your case. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 1(405) 657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.