A federal crime is either one that’s committed on federal property, such as a military base or some of other kind of federal installation, or it’s a crime that you commit that is covered by some federal statute that makes it a criminal violation.
If it’s picked up by the federal government, it’s going to be started with an indictment. They’ll take the case to a grand jury, and if the grand jury can be convinced beyond a probable cause determination that you’ve committed the crime that they’ve accused you of, then they will then bring the action in federal court. If they, however, cannot raise that probable cause in front of a grand jury, then the case will fail there.
However, just know that state law violation can sometimes be picked up in federal court. They have equivalent jurisdiction over a crime that might be criminal in both the state level as well as the federal jurisdictions.
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