Simultaneous State & Federal Charges in Chicago

What Happens if You Are Facing Both State and Federal Charges in Illinois?

You may have heard about the notorious criminal, Larry Hoover, who is currently serving multiple life sentences for both state and federal crimes. He has been in the news recently for asking the federal government to review his federal drug crime sentence after his penalties for cocaine-related offenses were lightened.

In 1973, Hoover was convicted of murder by the state of Illinois, in Chicago. In 1998, he was convicted in federal court of running a criminal enterprise and was moved from state prison to a federal facility. If he had been simultaneously charged with murder by the state of Illinois and criminal enterprise and drug charges by the federal government, what would have happened?

State vs. Federal Jurisdiction

If Hoover got state and federal charges at the same time, he would have faced criminal prosecution in both state and federal court. If he had first been arrested by state authorities, the state would have had primary jurisdiction. The sovereign entity (i.e., either the state or the federal government) with primary jurisdiction has the right to dispose of all charges against a defendant before the other sovereign entity can prosecute.

Obviously, a defendant cannot be in two places at once, so it makes sense that state and federal governments must take turns prosecuting a defendant. The first entity to arrest has the right to prosecute a defendant first.

How are State and Federal Criminal Sentences Served?

If a person is convicted of state and federal charges and sentenced to incarceration by both state and federal courts, those sentences can be served in a number of ways.

State and federal sentences can be served either concurrently or consecutively. Concurrently means the sentences are served at the same time. For example, if a defendant is sentenced to 10 years in prison in one jurisdiction, and at the same time is sentenced to five years in another jurisdiction, then they will spend 10 total years behind bars if the sentences run concurrently. Consecutive sentences run one after the other, meaning that the same defendant would spend 15 total years behind bars if the sentences run consecutively.

Whether a sentence runs concurrently or consecutively is decided by the sentencing authority in the respective jurisdiction. For example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons technically has the authority to decide whether a federal defendant’s sentence runs concurrently or consecutively with a state sentence, but the bureau usually considers the recommendation of the federal judge who imposed such sentence.

If sentences run consecutively, the primary jurisdiction’s sentence may be served first. While a defendant may serve time in custody in another jurisdiction, technically, their sentence does not begin until the date it is imposed — not when the defendant appears for prosecution.

Can I Be Prosecuted for the Same Crime in State and Federal Court?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no federal law stating you cannot be prosecuted for the same crime in state and federal court. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment only protects you from double prosecution in the same jurisdiction.

Some states may have laws that protect defendants against prosecution for the same crime in state and federal court, but generally, the concept of dual sovereignty trumps them. Dual sovereignty means both entities — the state and federal government — have the power to prosecute as they see fit in the same geographic area.

Contact a Chicago State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing state and federal criminal charges in Chicago, you need a defense lawyer with experience and a track record of successful outcomes in both jurisdictions. Call attorney Thomas Hallock at 888-412-3741 or complete the online form to discuss your state or federal criminal case today.

HELPFUL TIPS FROM ME TO YOU

HOW TO PROPERLY EXERCISE YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

What You Should Do

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Calmly record the interaction.
  • Ask if you are free to leave. If you do not ask, the officer may think—and the judge may agree—that the interaction was consensual.
  • If you are free to leave, go! If you are not free to leave, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with your lawyer.

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not physically resist arrest.
  • Do not become aggressive or confrontational.
  • Do not consent to a search. The Constitution does not apply if you consent.
  • Do not answer questions without first speaking with your attorney. Police are allowed to hold you for 48 hours and they may lie to you the entire time.

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