Federal crimes are those that violate U.S. law. Common federal crimes include immigration violations, weapons or drug smuggling, some property crimes, and violent crimes under certain circumstances, such as the murder of a judge or police officer.

Federal criminal charges are filed in U.S. district courts by government prosecutors, usually attorneys in the U.S. attorney's office. Anyone charged with a federal crime should get the advice of an attorney with experience in this area. This attorney will be familiar not only with the elements of the crime you are charged with, but also with the defenses available to you. If you can't afford an attorney in a federal criminal case, the government will designate an attorney who will represent you without charge.