Federal Crimes FAQs

What's federal criminal defense?

We're glad you asked. Federal criminal defense is a specialized area of law that focuses on defending individuals who have been charged with federal crimes. Unlike state-level offenses, these crimes are prosecuted by the federal government, and they carry their own unique set of procedures, penalties, and challenges. As federal criminal defense attorneys, we not only understand the letter of the law, but we also empathize with the stress and uncertainty that comes with facing federal charges.

Federal defense lawyers, like us, dedicate their practice to understanding the intricacies of federal law and the federal court system. This isn't just about knowing the statutes, it's about understanding how to strategically approach a case, how to negotiate with federal prosecutors, and how to effectively advocate for our clients' rights. It's about combining legal expertise with empathy, providing not only legal counsel but also emotional support throughout the process.

How does a federal crime differ from a state crime?

Great question! The main difference between federal and state crimes lies in who has jurisdiction, or legal authority, over them. Federal crimes are offenses that violate U.S. federal laws, and they're prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office. These can include a wide range of offenses, from drug trafficking and fraud to immigration crimes and terrorism.

State crimes, on the other hand, are offenses that violate state laws and are prosecuted by the state. They typically include crimes like robbery, assault, and murder. However, it's important to note that some crimes can be both state and federal offenses. For instance, drug offenses can be prosecuted at both levels. In these cases, whether a crime is charged at the state or federal level can depend on various factors, such as the severity of the offense and where it occurred.

Who prosecutes federal crimes?

Federal crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. Each federal judicial district has its own U.S. Attorney, who is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes that occur within their district. These are seasoned attorneys with significant resources at their disposal, which is why it's so crucial to have a seasoned federal defense attorney on your side.

These prosecutors are backed by the investigative power of federal agencies like the FBI, DEA, and ATF, among others. When you're up against this kind of power and expertise, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But remember, with an experienced federal defense attorney by your side, you're not alone. We're here to level the playing field, using our understanding of federal law and procedure to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.

What types of crimes fall under federal jurisdiction?

Federal jurisdiction covers a broad spectrum of crimes. Some of the most common ones include drug trafficking, fraud (including mail, wire, tax, and securities fraud), immigration offenses, firearms offenses, and crimes committed on federal property or against federal officials. It also includes offenses like racketeering, organized crime, and terrorism.

However, it's important to note that this list is far from exhaustive. Federal law touches on a wide range of activities, and many crimes can be prosecuted at the federal level under certain circumstances. For instance, if a crime crosses state lines or involves the internet, it may fall under federal jurisdiction. That's why, if you're facing potential federal charges, it's crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in federal criminal defense.

Can a lawyer who practices state law defend me in a federal court?

Theoretically, any attorney licensed to practice law can defend you in federal court. However, defending a federal case requires specific knowledge and experience that not all attorneys possess. Federal court procedures differ significantly from state court procedures, and federal laws and sentencing guidelines are detailed.

A lawyer who primarily practices state law might not be familiar with these differences. And in a federal trial, that lack of familiarity could put you at a disadvantage. When facing federal charges, it's in your best interest to work with an attorney who specializes in federal criminal defense. As federal defense attorneys, we're familiar with the nuances of federal law and procedure, and we know how to build effective defense strategies in this unique legal landscape.

What should I look for when hiring a federal criminal defense attorney?

When facing federal charges, you need an attorney who not only understands federal law but also knows how to navigate the federal court system. Look for an attorney with a proven track record in federal court, as this demonstrates their ability to effectively advocate for clients in this arena.

You should also look for an attorney who's willing to take the time to understand your case and your needs. Facing federal charges is a stressful experience, and you deserve an attorney who's going to be there for you every step of the way, answering your questions, keeping you informed, and providing the emotional support you need during this challenging time.

What's the process after I'm charged with a federal crime?

After you're charged with a federal crime, the first step is the arraignment, where you'll be formally charged and asked to enter a plea. This is followed by the discovery process, where both sides gather evidence. Then come pre-trial motions, where your attorney can challenge the government's case and argue for certain evidence to be excluded.

If your case doesn't settle or get dismissed during the pre-trial phase, it will go to trial. In federal court, you have the right to a jury trial, where twelve jurors must unanimously agree on your guilt. If you're convicted, the judge will determine your sentence based on federal sentencing guidelines.

Throughout this process, a good federal defense attorney will be working tirelessly on your behalf. They'll be examining the evidence, challenging the prosecution's case, negotiating potential plea deals, and if necessary, advocating for you at trial.

Will my case definitely go to trial?

Not necessarily. Many federal cases are resolved before they reach trial. This can happen through plea negotiations, where you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. It can also happen if the judge dismisses the case due to insufficient evidence or procedural issues.

Whether your case goes to trial depends on many factors, including the strength of the evidence against you and the potential penalties you're facing. As your attorneys, we'll help you weigh these factors and make informed decisions about the best course of action.

What are the potential consequences if I'm convicted of a federal crime?

The consequences of a federal conviction can be severe. They can include imprisonment, fines, restitution, probation, and forfeiture of property. The exact penalties depend on the nature of the crime, the details of the offense, and your criminal history.

It's also important to consider the long-term consequences. A federal conviction can impact your future employment prospects, your ability to obtain certain licenses, and your reputation in the community. That's why it's so vital to have an experienced federal defense attorney fighting on your behalf.

Can I appeal a federal conviction?

Yes, you can appeal a federal conviction. If you believe there was a legal error that affected the outcome of your case, you can ask a higher court to review the decision. This isn't a second trial, but a review of the legal procedures followed in your case.

However, appeals can require a deep understanding of appellate law. If you're considering an appeal, it's crucial to work with an attorney who has experience in this specialized area.

How long do federal criminal proceedings usually take?

The length of federal criminal proceedings can vary widely, depending on the case, the amount of evidence, and various other factors. In general, though, you should be prepared for the process to take several months at a minimum.

However, it's important to remember that our primary goal as your attorneys isn't to rush through the process, but to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. We'll take the time to thoroughly investigate your case, challenge the government's evidence, and explore all possible defenses. Because when it comes to defending your rights and your freedom, we believe that every minute is worth it.