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What Is Dual Sovereignty?

Dual Sovereignty Helps Handle State And Federal Crimes

In the case where an action — the crime — violates both state and federal law, dual sovereignty comes into play. This means that, when a crime could potentially be tried in both state and federal court, a decision is made regarding which court will handle it — the sovereignty that decides to drop the case gives up the power to make a decision, allowing the other court to take care of the case. It is important, then, that an Orlando criminal defense attorney has experience with both courts, in order to better handle a case — no matter which court it is taken to.


“It’s possible to have one action violate both a state crime and a federal crime. It’s called the dual sovereignty.  The United States is a sovereign entity.  The State of Florida is a sovereign entity.  Ordinarily, either one or the other will prosecute it and usually it works like this.  If the Feds take it, the State leaves it alone.  If the Feds abandon it to the State, the State makes its own decision whether to prosecute or not, but a federal crime is literally just that.  It’s one which is against the law throughout the United States, may or may not be against the law in Florida.”