If you are accused of committing a crime on federal property or if your alleged criminal activity involves a federal agency or is a violation of federal law, you will likely end up facing criminal charges at the federal level. The government has nearly limitless resources to investigate and prosecute federal offenses, and in some cases, federal agents may even join forces with state and local law enforcement agencies to gather evidence related to suspected criminal activity.
Given the considerable reach of the federal government’s investigative and prosecutorial divisions and the severity of the penalties imposed by the court in federal criminal cases, any individual facing federal charges needs the help of an attorney who has a clear understanding of federal laws and court procedures.
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in federal court, the very first thing you should do is find a defense attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, our defense lawyers have decades of experience representing clients in criminal cases and we will do everything in our power to help you get a satisfactory outcome in your case. Contact our firm today to find a skilled federal crimes attorney to represent your defense.
What is a Federal Crime?
In the United States, the criminal justice system is made up of state criminal law and federal criminal law. Each state, California included, has its own set of laws (the California Penal Code) that state residents must abide by and the federal government also has its own set of laws (the United States Code) that apply to residents of every state.
If you are accused of committing a state crime, you will likely be arrested by state or local law enforcement officers and be prosecuted in a state court in California. If you are convicted of the crime, the punishment you face will be determined by state law and may include a county jail or state prison sentence.
If you are accused of committing a federal crime, however, you will likely be arrested by federal agents from the FBI, DEA or some other federal agency and be prosecuted by a federal prosecutor, also known as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Your case will take place in a federal district court and the penalties handed down by the court will be dictated by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. As such, the punishment for a federal offense is almost always more severe than the punishment for the same or similar charge at the state level, and if you are convicted and sentenced to prison for a federal crime, you will serve your sentence in a federal prison.
Depending on the nature of the alleged criminal activity, a criminal case may begin in federal court, or what starts out as a state case may be moved to federal court for one reason or another. In some cases, it may even be possible for a defendant to be prosecuted in both a California state court and a federal court for a single crime that violates both the California Penal Code and the United States Code.
Any time you are facing charges for a federal crime, whether the charge is for fraud, money laundering, a drug-related offense, a violent crime or some other crime, it is in your best interest to consult a federal criminal defense attorney who understands both state and federal law and can advise you on the best course of action based on your specific situation.
- What to do First
Federal Cases Our Lawyers Handle
When it comes to defending yourself against federal criminal charges, choosing a reputable defense attorney who has an in-depth understanding of federal law can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. An attorney capable of presenting a compelling criminal defense strategy that portrays you in the best possible light may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain on your behalf, secure an acquittal at trial, or possibly even get the federal charges reduced or dismissed entirely. The following are some of the federal offenses our criminal defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers have experience handling:
- Federal Drug Cases
Punishment for Federal Crimes
The penalties associated with a criminal conviction at the federal level vary a great deal depending on the charge and other pertinent factors, such as the specific characteristics of the alleged offense and the defendant’s criminal history. Consider the following:
If you are found guilty of making a false statement in any matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1001, you could be fined and sentenced to a maximum of five years in federal prison, or a maximum of eight years, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism. Marriage fraud, a type of immigration fraud that violates 8 U.S. Code § 1325(c), carries a similar punishment upon conviction – a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.
However, more serious federal crimes carry far more devastating penalties, some with mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimums were enacted by Congress to establish prison terms of a particular length for individuals convicted of certain federal crimes. Unfortunately, mandatory minimum sentences prevent judges in federal cases from taking into account each defendant’s unique background and the circumstances of his offense when determining the appropriate sentence, which is what ensures a fair and just sentence. At the federal level, most mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug-related offenses.
For instance, the federal crime of drug trafficking (21 U.S. Code § 841) is punishable by a term of between five and 40 years for offenses involving specific quantities of controlled substances or between 10 years and life imprisonment for larger quantities. There are other federal offenses that also carry mandatory minimum sentences, including certain weapons offenses.
Drug crimes are punished harshly in the United States, but there are other federal crimes that carry significantly more severe penalties. For instance, a charge of second-degree murder at the federal level (a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1111) is punishable by any term of years or by imprisonment for life, and a charge of first-degree murder is punishable by death or by imprisonment for life.
These lengthy prison sentences are all the more devastating considering the fact that there is no parole in the federal justice system, which means convicted offenders will generally serve the full sentence imposed by the court, unless they get time off for good behavior (maximum 15% of the prison sentence) or qualify for a period of supervised release at the end of their sentence.
Defending Yourself Against Federal Charges
Federal criminal charges can be brought against any person accused of committing a crime that violates the federal criminal code or one that involves a federal agency or government department (i.e. the post office or any FDIC-insured bank), takes place on federal property (i.e. a national park or military base), crosses state lines or international borders, or is committed using the internet, among other unlawful acts.
If you are facing charges for a federal crime in California, our seasoned federal crimes defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers can help you. With 40+ years of combined experience defending clients against charges for alleged drug trafficking, misappropriation, gun crimes, embezzlement, fraud and other crimes at the state and federal level, our lawyers are prepared to go head to head with the federal government and get the best possible result in your case, whether that means getting the charges dismissed, negotiating a plea deal or defending you at trial. Our legal team is committed to providing our clients with the highest-quality legal representation and we will protect your rights every step of the way. Contact our firm today for a free initial consultation.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
Facing charges for a federal crime is a serious matter, one that demands the expertise of a trial-tested criminal defense lawyer who specializes in federal cases. Federal criminal cases are not the same as state cases and an attorney who only handles state cases will not be prepared to adequately represent you in your federal case.
Navigating the federal criminal process can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are facing charges for a crime that carries a federal prison sentence and/or mandatory minimum sentence, and only a qualified federal crimes defense attorney can properly advise you on matters that are unique to federal cases, i.e. how to respond to a target letter from the Department of Justice, what to do if you are involved in a federal investigation, and whether or not you should speak to federal agents or cooperate with the federal prosecutor. To speak to our knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyers about your case, contact Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers as soon as possible.