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Types of Federal Crimes


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Types of Federal Crimes

A comprehensive guide to federal crime charges in the United States


Federal crimes are crimes which fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and are illegal by federal law. Many such offenses are listed in Title 18 of the United States Code, the criminal and penal code of the federal government. The Neal Davis Law Firm now provides you with many such classifications of federal crimes.


Though the majority of prosecutions in America happen at the state level in county or municipal courts, the federal government has jurisdiction over criminal areas when states lack jurisdiction.

In part, that’s because some criminal laws are constitutionally reserved to the federal government, or because crimes occur on federal property. In addition, crossing from one state to another may make what is normally a state crime also a federal crime. Prosecution of such offenses can occur at both the federal and state levels.

The United States Constitution grants federal courts an exclusive authority over some areas, including patents, bankruptcy, the Postal Service, immigration and the coining and regulating of money. Thus, federal courts have exclusive authority to consider criminal cases in areas such as mail fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion, money counterfeiting, criminal immigration or fraud pertaining to bankruptcy claims.

In addition, Title 18 of the U.S. Code sets forth the following classifications of federal crimes, which we provide here in a comprehensive (but not all-inclusive) list:


Aircraft and Motor Vehicles: Such crimes include destruction of motor vehicles, drive-by shootings, aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, interfering with air traffic signals and violence at international airports.

Animals, Birds, Fish and Plants: These crimes concern unlawful removal, transportation, harm or destruction of such entities. That can mean animal crush videos, smuggling wildlife, disobeying animal fighting provisions or hunting, fishing, trapping, disturbances or injuries on wildlife refuges.

Arson: Federal law prohibits the willful and malicious act of setting fire to any property or structure within federal maritime and territorial jurisdictions. First-degree arson harms or kills a person, while second-degree arson damages only property.

Assault: This includes assaulting or resisting certain officers or employees, domestic assault by a habitual offender and assaults within maritime or territorial jurisdictions.

Bankruptcy: Such offenses include bribery, concealing assets and bankruptcy fraud, which is falsely claiming a lack of funds to avoid paying debts. Embezzlement is also against federal law, which is secretly taking or hiding assets from a business or person without their knowledge.

Biological Weapons: Federal law prohibits having or using germ-based agents and dispersal systems to cause toxicity, harm or death to persons, animals or plants.

Bribery, Graft and Conflicts of Interest: Illegal bribery is swaying the opinion or decision of an authority, graft is using authority to create personal gain unscrupulously, and conflicts of interest concern personal biases interfering with objective actions or decisions.

Child Support: It’s illegal to fail to pay child support that is owed to the person responsible for a child’s upbringing.

Civil Rights: This prohibits hate crime acts, damages to religious property and interfering with freedom of access to clinic entrances.

Coins and Currency: This includes prohibiting mutilation or falsification of coins, and dealing in counterfeit securities.

Conspiracy: This prohibits conspiracy to defraud the government via false claims against federal entities to create personal gain.

Criminal Street Gangs: Includes offenses by an ongoing group, club, organization or association of five or more persons.

Customs: Includes smuggling goods into the United States and entry of goods that are falsely classified.

Drug Trafficking: Prohibits importing or exporting illegal substances for the purpose of public distribution and sale.

Elections and Political Activities: Prohibits intimidation of voters, polling of armed forces and promises of employment for political activity.

Emblems, Insignia and Names: Includes desecrating the flag of the United States and misuse of names, emblems or insignia.

Escape and Rescue: Prohibits instigating or assisting in an escape or a rescue to prevent execution.

Espionage and Censorship: Prohibits harboring or concealing persons, photographing defense installations or disclosing classified information.

Explosives and Other Dangerous Articles: Prohibits threats to the United States of using nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, and transactions involving nuclear weapons.

Extortion and Threats: Prohibits extortion by officers or employees of the United States, mailing threatening communications and threatening the President, former Presidents or foreign officials.

Firearms: Prohibits gun crimes such as possession of a gun by a convicted felon and unlawful injury to or killing of another person with a firearm.

Fugitives from Justice: Makes it illegal to conceal a person from arrest or to conceal an escaped prisoner, as well as fleeing to avoid prosecution or giving testimony.

Homicide/Murder: Includes laws against murder, manslaughter or attempts to commit such crimes, as well as laws against murder by escaped criminals.

Kidnapping: Prohibits kidnapping, taking hostages, demanding ransom money and international parental kidnapping.

Liquor Traffic: Includes prohibition of transporting liquor into a state prohibiting its sale.

Lotteries: Prohibits importing or transporting lottery tickets or any tickets of chance into the United States.

Mail Fraud: Prohibits fraud by wire, radio or television and fraud by use of the Postal Service.

Military and Navy: Prohibits enticing desertion and harboring deserters, as well as prostitution near military and naval establishments.

Nationality and Citizenship: Prohibits misuse of evidence to show citizenship or naturalization.

types of federal crimes

Obscenity: Prohibits broadcasting obscene language and selling or possessing with the intent to sell obscene matter on federal property.

Obstruction of Justice: Prohibits assaulting a process server, resisting an extradition agent and injuring or influencing an officer or juror.

Partial-Birth Abortions: Prohibits partial-birth abortions.

Passports and Visas: Prohibits misuse of a passport, forgery or false use of a passport and issuing a passport without authority.

Peonage, Slavery and Trafficking in Persons: Prohibits forced labor, sex trafficking of children and selling a person into involuntary servitude.

Perjury: Prohibits false declarations before a grand jury or court.

Postal Services: Includes laws against delay or destruction of mail or newspapers, obstructing correspondence and destruction of letter boxes or mails.

Prisons: Prohibits mutiny, riot and providing or possessing contraband in prisons.

Privacy: Prohibits video voyeurism.

Protection of Trade Secrets: Prohibits theft of trade secrets and economic espionage.

Racketeering: Prohibits illegal gambling businesses and interference with commerce by violence or threats.

Railroad Carriers: Prohibits entering a train to commit a crime.

Robbery and Burglary: Applies to such crimes committed in special maritime and territorial jurisdictions of the United States.

Sabotage: Prohibits destruction or production of war materials, premises or utilities.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Prohibits selling or buying children and sexually exploiting children.

Stalking and Domestic Violence: Prohibits stalking and interstate domestic violence.

Stolen Property: Prohibits trafficking in counterfeit goods or services and sale or receipt of stolen vehicles, among other things.

Terrorism: Prohibits acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries and the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Transportation for Illegal Sexual Activity and Related Crimes: This part of 18 U.S. Code includes many federal prohibitions, especially pertaining to minors.


If you have been charged with a federal crime, contact Houston criminal defense lawyer Neal Davis today to schedule your free consultation. For nearly 20 years, Neal Davis has secured successful outcomes for clients in Texas and federal courts in all types of criminal cases, including appearing as lead counsel in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case. He is often able to favorably resolve cases quickly and quietly, without the need for trial.

Of course, every case is different and past results are no guarantee of future results. It’s important to discuss the details of your unique case with a qualified defense attorney like Neal Davis as soon as possible.

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