What Are the Most Common Federal Crimes?

Many criminal offenses are prosecuted at the state level, but the federal government has jurisdiction over certain crimes. Because federal convictions often result in more severe sentences, it is very important to work with an experienced attorney knowledgeable about federal criminal defense if you are facing a federal prosecution.

With this in mind, here are the top four federal crimes as reported by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS).

Immigration Crimes

Immigration-related offenses are responsible for a large number of federal law violations. According to the NCJRS, immigration crimes are the fastest-growing category of federal offenses in the country. In 2011, there were almost 30,000 active immigration cases in federal courts. In last decade, immigration-related federal prosecutions have gone up by 153.2 percent.

Drug Crimes

Federal courts also handle a lot of drug cases, especially charges for drug trafficking and drug distribution. The large number of individuals serving prison sentences for drug-related offenses has even caused an overcrowding problem in the nation’s prisons.

In 2015, the U.S. Sentencing Commission responded to the overcrowding crisis by issuing revised rules for certain drug convictions – action that led to the release of 6,000 prisoners serving sentences for federal drug crimes.

Weapons Crimes

Committing a crime with a weapon drastically increases the severity of the charges. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93 percent of federal offenders who used a firearm during commission of a crime were sentenced to prison.

By contrast, only 72 percent of federal offenders whose crime did not involve a firearm were issued prison sentences. Between 2002 and 2004, prosecutions for weapons-related crimes jumped from 7,948 to 11,015.

Fraud Crimes

White collar crimes may sound less serious than violent crimes, but federal prosecutors pursue them aggressively. In recent years, investigations involving corporate officers and perpetrators of financial fraud schemes and unlawful business practices have been widely reported in the news. Prosecutors charge these individuals under a variety of federal statues, including the RICO Act.