Common Federal Crimes

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Oct 10, 2012

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Considering the Interstate Commerce Clause, other areas of criminal law that impact the entire nation, or which need to be centrally regulated to avoid chaos, it is not hard to pick out the areas that will likely be Federal crimes. Here are only a few that involve Interstate Commerce: kidnapping across state lines, organized crime, internet child pornography (violates both federal and local law), threatening a federal public official, interstate drug trafficking, bank robbery, hijacking trucks in interstate commerce, skyjacking, using U.S. Mails for any criminal purpose, and counterfeiting.

Most criminal acts that impact the military will result in federal prosecution, such as any crime on a Military base (including drunk driving), impersonating military personnel, interfering with any military action or function, stealing military property, evading the military draft, taking up arms against U.S. Military personnel, desertion by military personnel, and selling classified information, to cite a few.

Federal crimes involving the Post Office also include soliciting funds fraudulently by mail, sending a ransom note by mail, mailing illegal drugs, and mailing toxic or dangerous substances. Other Postal crimes include threatening or harming a Postal Worker, forging or stealing Postal Money Orders, and vandalizing U.S. mail or Post Office premises or property.

Crimes involving the IRS include tax evasion, tax fraud, and failure to withhold federal taxes from a paycheck. Any crime involving Federal benefits will also be a Federal crime. Some examples are forging or stealing a U.S. Treasury check, fraudulently applying for or receiving Welfare benefits, faking a disability to get Social Security long term disability benefits, cashing a Social Security check that comes after the elderly beneficiary dies, and making a false or exaggerated claim for Federal disaster relief.

You can fairly reliably predict what crimes will be federal by just picking a federal agency and imagining a crime against its functions. The F.C.C: pirate radio stations. The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury: counterfeiting. Heath Education and Welfare: adulterating foods or medications, or knowingly selling tainted foods. Dept of Agriculture: fraudulent agricultural loans. A.T.F. (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms): smuggling cigarettes, importing or selling firearms without a license or illegal firearms, and selling untaxed liquor. E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency): dumping toxic substances, killing endangered species, importing banned chemicals. Dept. of the Interior: growing marijuana on Federal lands, arson. Labor Dept: failure to pay required benefits or wage violations. S.E.C. (Securities and Exchange Commission); insider trading, forging securities. D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Administration): importing illegal drugs or moving them across state lines.

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