Only a criminal defense lawyer apprised of all the facts should be advising and counseling you (or whoever the defendant is in this matter). Whether to accept or reject a plea offer is a major decision. it should not be made based solely on considering the potential threat being made by the prosecutor's office about referring the matter for federal prosecution. personally, I have never had this threat made against any of my clients. Either the feds are already investigating and considering filing, or they are not. This may be a case where there was joint task forces of state and federal law enforcement involved, and they are willing to let one or the other prosecutor's office handle the prosecution (e.g, state vs. federal). OR, it may not be. The prohibition of double jeopardy, which bars a the government from prosecuting a person twice for the same crime, does not apply to twin prosecutions under separate state and federal criminal statutes, even if they are based on the same criminal conduct. The state prosecutor's office CANNOT offer immunity from federal prosecution. Only the US Attorney's Office can do that. Be very, very careful about making deals with state prosecutors who appear to be offering a "no federal prosecution" promise in return. They cannot keep such a promise. This is not something you negotiate without experienced criminal defense counsel--one who also is familiar with federal criminal defense.
The short answer is yes. As long as the crime falls with the scope or interest of the US government, the state can, and frequently does, contact the Feds. However, the Feds do not always pursue all charges forwarded to them so you may still wind up in state court. An attorney can greatly assist you at this stage and may be able to keep it in state court.
Yes. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to go to trial. Consider seeking a confidential consultation.
Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.
More than likely the gun had travelled in interstate commerce and there is a drug statute on point, so both can be prosecuted in Federal court. It is unlikely that the state prosecutor can make a promise through a plea deal that they can prevent the US Attorney from prosecuting you. But under the US Petite policy (see the link below) there are certain requirements for an AUSA to prosecute under USAM 9-2.031. Have your attorney review your criminal exposure here. Follow that advice. Take Care!