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.