Over time, federal crimes have become more common, in large part because the federal criminal system has taken a bigger role—compared to what it used to have—as opposed to the state-level criminal system. This has sometimes been called the “federalization of crime.”
One of the biggest periods in which changes were seen was in the 1960s. In the first year of that decade, there were only about 30,000 federal cases. Just 12 years later, in 1972, there were about 50,000 such crimes.
Things then regressed back toward that 1960s number for a while, but the 1980s saw another steady climb. Between 1980 and 1992, the amount of federal cases went up by a staggering 70 percent.
So, where were most of these new federal cases coming from? Drug offense and firearm offenses led the way, with the highest growth rates. In those 12 years, the total number of drug cases rose from 3,130 to four times that many, hitting 12,833.
Firearms cases rose by about the same amount, though there were far less overall. In 1980, there were just 931 firearm prosecutions, and there were a total of 3,917 cases that happened in 1992.
Recently, drug offense have actually been falling. They peaked out in 2002 at 19,000, but there were only 15,000 such cases in 2010. Still, these are a big part of the court system.
Plus, other federal offenses are on the rise. In particular, violations relating to immigration have risen more than another other area. In 2006, there were about 16,000 such cases, while there where 28,000 that happened in 2010, a rise of 12,000 cases.
Those facing federal charges in Maryland have the right to a fair trial.
Source: FJC, “Criminal Jurisdiction in the Federal Courts,” accessed Dec. 31, 2015