The 4 Most Commonly Prosecuted Federal Crimes

The 4 Most Commonly Prosecuted Federal Crimes

by Nov 20, 2018

It likely won’t surprise anyone to learn that the most commonly prosecuted federal crimes are not the types of crimes seen in television and movies. While there are occasionally high-profile federal crimes that make the news, the day-to-day work of a federal prosecutor involves activities that are a bit more mundane.

There are many different federal statutes and charges that can result in prosecution, but certain offenses tend to appear more regularly than others in federal criminal courts. According to the 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, the four most commonly prosecuted federal crimes last year were:

  1. Drug Charges – 30.8%
  2. Immigration – 30.5%
  3. Weapons Crimes – 12.1%
  4. Fraud – 9.0%

Federal crimes are typically more serious than state offenses, and because of that they often carry harsh sentences.

Drug Charges

While drug charges can be prosecuted at the state level, it’s not uncommon for cases to end up in federal court. If federal agents make an arrest, the case will almost certainly end up in federal court as well.

In some circumstances, local law enforcement will cooperate will federal authorities, which may also result in prosecution at the federal level. Finally, any drug cases involving the transportation of drugs across state lines, or the distribution and manufacture of large quantities of drugs, are also prosecuted in federal court.

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Immigration is one of the most contentious topics in the country right now, and federal prosecution of crimes relating to immigration make up a significant portion of prosecutors’ cases.

Even before the current administration took office, immigration-related prosecutions were growing at a higher rate than any other type of federal criminal offense.

Weapons Crimes

Over ninety percent of individuals convicted of federal weapons-related crimes receive a prison sentence. And because of the severity of the types of crimes involved, those convicted are often given lengthy sentences.

In contrast, those convicted of federal crimes that did not involve a weapon receive a prison sentence just over seventy percent of the time.


Fraud is defined at the federal level as “Any intentional deception or misrepresentation used to benefit yourself or someone else.” Federal fraud charges include things like:

  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Medicaid and Medicare fraud

Being convicted of federal fraud charges commonly results in some combination of prison time, fines, restitution, and/or probation.

Facing Federal Charges

If you are facing federal charges, it’s critical to work with an attorney who has experience at the federal level.

At Quinnan Law, we have extensive experience dealing with investigative agencies such as Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We know how to handle federal cases and the unique requirements they come with.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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