Search Site


Criminal Law & Procedure: Jurisdiction & Venue: Conflicts of Laws

When a criminal offense has been committed on land or buildings that have been reserved or acquired by the federal government, and the offense is not a federal offense, state law will apply to the offense under the Assimilative Crimes Act. When the federal government prosecutes the offense, it is not enforcing state law. It is enforcing the federal law by incorporating or by applying the state law to the offense.

State law is applied or incorporated under the Assimilative Crimes Act only when Congress has not enacted a statute that prohibits a criminal offense. In other words, when the offense is not a federal offense. However, because the offense has been committed on land that is owned by the federal government, the federal government is entitled to prosecute the offense by applying the state law to the offense. For example, when a murder is committed on land that is owned by the federal government, the federal government will apply the elements for murder under state law because murder is not a federal offense.

When a member of the United States Armed Forces commits an offense on a military base, the federal government may prosecute the member under the Assimilative Crimes Act, even if the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prohibits the offense. The reason for this is that the UCMF is not considered to be an enactment of Congress within the meaning of the Assimilative Crimes Act. Even though the member may be subject to a court martial under the UCMJ, the federal government may prosecute the member in federal court for a violation of state law. This scenario normally occurs when the military has referred the case to the federal government for prosecution. However, the member cannot be prosecuted by both the federal government and the military. The member cannot be subjected to double jeopardy for the offense.

Under the Assimilative Crimes Act, the federal government may not apply state regulatory laws to a criminal offense. The federal government may also not incorporate state administrative penalties to a criminal offense, such as the suspension of a driver's license or any other state license.

When a federal regulation prohibits a criminal offense, the offense cannot generally be prosecuted under the Assimilative Crimes Act. It can only be prosecuted in accordance with the federal regulation. In other words, state law does not apply to the offense when the same act is prohibited by the federal regulation. However, if an act is not precisely the same as the act that is prohibited by the federal regulation, the federal government may choose whether to prosecute a defendant under the federal regulation or under the Assimilative Crimes Act.

Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

  • "-All what I can say is that I had a great lawyer and an excellent representative for my workman’s comps case. Definitely I would recommend the services of Attorney Graham. Abdeslam C."  -Abdeslam C.

  • "-Attorney Kimberly Graham went above and beyond on my behalf. She not only offered legal advice, but also provided personal support. This was in no way an easy battle, but with her by my side it made a difference. Portia W. "  -Portia W.

  • "-She cares for her clients. Andrew W."  -Andrew W.

  • "-Kimberly Graham exemplifies qualities of expertise and professionalism. I would hire her services again if they were to be needed. Thank you so very much Atty Kim. Donna W."  -Donna W.

  • "-Really great work and communication. Great person better lawyer. David S."  -David S.

  • "-It was great working with attorney Graham and her staff. I would highly recommend her. Kelly N."  -Kelly N.

  • "-My experience with Atty Graham and her staff was very professional. I would gladly recommend her firm to others. John S."  -John S.

  • "-Attorney Graham took on a task that was not in her line of expertise and excelled. She put forth 150% of her time and knowledge to assist us in meeting our obligations as co-conservators and then administrators of our cousin’s estate. She made it easy. She gave us the guidance we needed to succeed in all the legal papers. Attorney Graham is not just an attorney to our family, she has become a very dear friend. P.S. The staff was friendly, helpful and professional. Maxine S.; John S."  -Maxine S.; John S.

  • "-All I have to say is the best and I am going to recommend everybody about the quality of Kimberly Graham and her staff. Edin J."  -Edin J.

  • "-I want to thank Kimberly Graham & her staff for all their help. I’m so grateful for everything she did for me & I will always thank God for her help. And I will make sure that anyone I know will know what a good attorney she is. I will recommend her to everyone I know. Thank you Kimberly. Keep up the good work. Maria C."  -Maria C.

West Hartford Office
  • 28 North Main St
    Suite G-2
    West Hartford, Connecticut 06107
    Phone: 860-523-9306
    Fax: 860-523-1274