When someone commits a crime, they will face either federal or state charges.
The United States constitution allows states to govern themselves, and within the context of federal laws, states can set up their own governing structures.
This is the reason why people may commit the same crime in different states yet face different consequences.
Though there are some crimes that are governed by federal statues, local state laws and govern many crimes and state statutes will dictate penalties for those crimes.
If both state and federal laws are in effect for a crime, the federal law has the greatest impact. If there is an issue between both federal and state law, the federal law will be enacted, and many times, a federal ruling will override a state ruling.
The difference between federal and state crimes is of great importance when a crime has been committed in several states. And, many times, a crime will be subject to both federal and state rulings at the same time.
If you have been charged with a crime and are seeking the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney, you will need an attorney able to defend you in both state and federal court. Some criminal attorneys are experienced at only federal cases; others serve only in state cases.