|Determining if a Real Property is Subject to Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction|
When a crime is either alleged or has actually been committed within a state of the Union, it is important to be able to determine if the location where it was committed was subject to state law or federal law. The applicable jurisdiction determines the laws that apply to the crime and the forum or court where the crime must be tried. The reason for requiring exclusive jurisdiction in order to prosecute a crime is to prevent the person who committed it from being tried TWICE for the same crime: once by the federal government and once by the state. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution doesn't allow double-jeopardy, which is what this is called.
In order to try a crime under federal law, the crime must have been committed on a real property where the United States has exclusive legislative jurisdiction as required under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution. The state and federal governments cannot have exclusive legislative jurisdiction simultaneously over the same geographic region: Only one of them can have general jurisdiction and sovereignty over any particular region of land.
In order for the scene of the crime to come under federal jurisdiction, the land that it was committed on must have been ceded by the state to the federal government by a formal act of the state legislature, as required under 40 U.S.C. §255 and its successors, 40 U.S.C. §3111 and 3112. Records of properties that have been ceded by a state to the federal government are maintained by the Attorney General of the United States, as well as the Attorney General of the state in question.
To get information about the status of the real property from the Attorney General of the United States, contact the following:
Melanie Ann Pustay, Deputy
To get information about the status of a real property from the Attorney General of the state, refer to the following link on our website, which contains a detailed listing of state information for each state of the Union: