Federal Offense Law & Legal Definition


In the U.S., the term ‘federal offense’ or ‘federal crime’ refers to any act that is performed in violation of the U.S. federal legislations. Such crimes are prosecuted in federal courts. This includes many crimes that, if they did not occur on U.S. federal property or on Indian reservations, would otherwise fall under state or local law.

Drug related offenses, kidnapping, tax evasion, counterfeiting, theft of major artwork from a museum, damaging or destroying public mailboxes, immigration offenses, and illegal possession or sales of firearms are some examples of federal offenses. Some federal crimes are listed in Title 18 of the United States Code, but others fall under other titles. For example, tax evasion and possession of weapons banned by the National Firearms Act are criminalized in Title 26 of the United States Code.

Federal offenses are investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). has been granted powers to investigate federal offenses. Prosecution guidelines are established by the United States Attorney in each federal judicial district and by laws that Congress has already established.