A crime of violence is any criminal offense that involves the use of physical force or any attempted or threatened use of physical force against another person, and these types of crimes carry stiff penalties when prosecuted at the federal level, potentially including fines, restitution and a decades-long prison sentence, a life sentence in federal prison, or even the death penalty in serious cases.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a federal offense that qualifies as a crime of violence, you could be at risk for severe legal consequences that could change the course of your entire life, and you should make an effort to hire skilled legal representation as quickly as possible. The defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers have a proven track record of successfully defending clients against federal charges, including charges for violent crimes, and we can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your criminal case. Contact our firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.
Violent Crime Charges
Federal violent crimes are covered under Title 18 of the United States Code, which defines a crime of violence as “an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense” (18 U.S. Code § 16).
Facing criminal charges for a violent crime is a serious matter and because the term “crime of violence” is so broadly defined, there are a variety of offenses that can result in federal charges. The following are some examples of criminal offenses that can fall under the umbrella of violent crime in accordance with federal law:
• Domestic violence
• Assault and battery
• Gang violence
• Hate crimes
• Terrorist or violent threats
• Sexual assault
What Makes a Violent Crime a Federal Offense?
Many violent crimes in California involve violations of state law and such crimes are generally handled by state and local authorities and prosecuted in state court. However, violent crimes can also be prosecuted at the federal level, and a conviction for a federal violent crime typically carries far tougher penalties upon conviction. There are a number of factors that can trigger federal charges for a violent crime offense, including the identity of the alleged victim and whether the crime took place on federal property or crossed state lines.
For instance, the crime of assault and battery is typically prosecuted under state law in California, but if the alleged victim is a federal officer, an assault and battery crime becomes a federal offense under 18 U.S. Code § 111. Even a seemingly harmless push or shove can be considered a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 111, whether or not the alleged victim suffers any physical injuries.
Another example of a violent crime that can be charged as a federal offense because of the specific circumstances of the case is murder. Murder in California is typically charged as a state crime under Penal Code § 187 PC. However, any murder that occurs within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (i.e. on the high seas, a military base or an Indian reservation) or that involves the death of a federal officer or U.S. government official is a violation of federal law and can therefore be prosecuted at the federal level (18 U.S. Code § 1111).
Murder-for-hire can also be charged as a federal offense, even if no one was killed. Any time you are facing federal charges for federal assault and battery, federal murder or any other federal violent crime, you should consider contacting a criminal defense attorney with experience handling federal criminal cases.
Penalties for Federal Violent Crimes
When most people think about crime, violent crime is what comes to mind. Robberies, assault, kidnapping, gang violence and murder are all violent crimes that can result in an investigation and aggressive prosecution by the federal government. Because violent crime is such a broad term used to describe a wide variety of criminal acts involving the alleged use, or attempted or threatened use of physical force against another person, the specific penalties associated with a federal violent crimes conviction will vary depending on the nature and severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal record and other factors.
For instance, if you are found guilty of a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 111 for forcibly assaulting, resisting, intimidating or interfering with a federal officer or employee while that person is engaged in the performance of official duties (i.e. an FBI agent, IRS employee, Secret Service agent, etc.), you could be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.
If the violent crime involves physical contact with the alleged victim or the intent to commit another felony offense, it is considered a felony violent crime and the associated punishment is incarceration for up to eight years. An enhanced penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison may be applied to your case if you are found guilty of using a deadly or dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury.
If you are found guilty of a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1111 for federal murder, and the crime is murder in the second degree, you could be imprisoned in federal prison for any term of years or for life. If the crime is murder in the first degree, you could face a life sentence in prison or possibly even the death penalty.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Violent Crimes
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the charges against you may include mandatory minimum sentences, which are set by Congress, rather than by judges. Most mandatory minimum sentences apply to federal drug crimes, but Congress has established minimum prison terms for certain other crimes, including federal violent crimes involving the use of a firearm.
Pursuant to 18 U.S. Code § 924(c), individuals convicted of unlawful activity involving a firearm and the commission of a federal drug trafficking offense or federal crime of violence may be subject to one of a series of mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment, imposed in addition to the sentenced imposed by the court for the underlying violent crime. These mandatory minimum sentences range in severity from a minimum of five years for using or carrying a firearm or possessing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; to a minimum of 30 years if the firearm is a machine gun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a silencer.
If the defendant has a prior conviction for a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 924(c) and the firearm is a machine gun or destructive device or is equipped with a silencer, the mandatory sentence is imprisonment for life.
Federal Violent Crime Defense
Federal investigations for violent crimes like murder, assault and battery, or domestic violence can involve state and local agencies, as well as the FBI and other federal investigative agencies. The federal government takes violent crime offenses extremely seriously and has extensive resources at its disposal to investigate, try and punish these types of crimes to the fullest extent of the law. As a result, convictions for federal violent crimes can result in lengthy minimum prison sentences, substantial fines and other life-changing criminal penalties.
Our criminal defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers have successfully defended clients facing a wide range of federal violent crime charges and we can help you navigate the legal system as quickly and easily as possible. When you hire our firm, we will investigate every possible defense available to you under the law and do everything in our power to get your charges reduced or dismissed, negotiate a lighter sentence, or defend you in federal court. Any time you are facing federal charges for a violent crime, there is a great deal at stake, so don’t hesitate to call.
Our Experienced Violent Crimes Defense Lawyers Can Help
Federal laws are particularly strict when it comes to violent crimes, especially violent crimes that involve the use or possession of a firearm. In fact, just being involved in a federal violent crimes investigation can have a negative impact on your reputation and your personal and professional life, whether or not you are ever formally charged or convicted.
If you or someone you know is under investigation for a federal violent crime, or is facing criminal charges for federal assault and battery or another crime of violence, it is imperative that you find a reputable attorney to stand by your side and fight for your rights from the very beginning. Even speaking to federal agents without an attorney present can damage your case and expose you to criminal liability, so don’t wait to retain an attorney. Whatever criminal charge you are facing, your freedom and your future may be in jeopardy and our accomplished defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers can help.