Standing Up for Clients Accused of a Federal Crime
If you have been charged with a federal crime, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of what to do next. It is important to remember that you do not have to face this situation alone. An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your charges and devise an effective defense strategy to help you secure a better outcome for your case.
The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, is dedicated to providing top-notch legal representation to clients accused of committing a federal crime in Fairfax, VA, and surrounding areas. If you are facing federal criminal charges, contact our law firm at 703-688-9236.
What Is Considered a Federal Crime?
Federal crimes are serious offenses that violate federal laws and are prosecuted by the United States government. Common examples of federal crimes include mail fraud, tax fraud, drug trafficking, terrorism, hate crimes, bank robberies, child pornography, and identity theft. Agencies such as the FBI or the IRS are responsible for investigating federal crimes and gathering evidence to prosecute individuals or organizations involved in these offenses.
In Virginia, federal criminal cases are usually handled in the Eastern or Western District Courts of Virginia. If a defendant is found guilty in a federal court, they can appeal the decision in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Federal crimes can carry stiff penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and large fines. That is why it is essential to hire a skilled federal defense attorney if you have been charged with a federal crime.
What Are the Penalties for a Federal Crime?
It is a well-known fact that a federal criminal case often comes with the potential of much harsher penalties than a state criminal case. Federal judges use the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines when deciding what sentence to issue in any particular case. These guidelines often suggest extremely long imprisonment sentences and fines that can be upwards of six or seven figures. While these minimum sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory, a large percentage of judges still rely on these guidelines to make a decision.
For example, mail fraud can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted of tax fraud, a defendant may be sent to prison for up to three years and be subject to a $100,000.00 maximum fine. Drug trafficking can result in a prison sentence of up to life in prison and a hefty fine of up to $10,000,000. If charged with terrorism, a defendant could be looking at a life sentence and a fine of $250,000.
What Are the Differences Between a Federal Crime and a State Crime?
As explained above, federal crimes are offenses that violate the laws set forth by the United States government, while state crimes are offenses that violate state laws. In other words, the federal government has jurisdiction over crimes that affect the nation as a whole, such as fraud committed across state lines, terrorism, and drug trafficking. On the other hand, state governments typically have jurisdiction over offenses that occur within their boundaries, such as robbery, assault, and theft.
Federal crimes are investigated and prosecuted by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and ATF. State crimes, on the other hand, are investigated and prosecuted by local law enforcement agencies, such as the police department and sheriff’s office. However, some state crimes can become federal offenses in certain situations.
For example, if a person commits a crime that crosses state lines, such as kidnapping or fraud, it typically becomes a federal offense and may be investigated and prosecuted by the FBI. In rare cases, it is possible for the federal government to also prosecute a crime that has already been prosecuted at the state level if they have enough reasons to believe that justice has not been served or that the crime is of national importance. However, a federal defense attorney may argue that the standard of double jeopardy applies and that the defendant should not be tried twice for the same crime.
How Can You Defend Against a Federal Criminal Charge?
There are several defense strategies a defense attorney can use to help a defendant challenge a federal criminal charge. These can include challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution, questioning the jurisdiction of the court, arguing that the case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, claiming that the defendant is a victim of entrapment, or arguing that the defendant is a victim of cruel and unusual punishment by the court.
A federal defense attorney may argue that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient, lacking in credibility, or that it was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure that is in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. Another possible defense strategy an attorney can use is to challenge the jurisdiction of the court by arguing that the court does not have the proper jurisdiction to prosecute the case.
Alternatively, a federal defense attorney may argue that the prosecution has not proven every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by pointing out any inconsistencies or flaws in the prosecution’s arguments. In addition, a federal defense attorney may be able to argue that the defendant was entrapped, meaning the defendant would likely never have committed the crime if it wasn’t for the actions of an official such as a law enforcement officer. Finally, a defense attorney could argue that the sentence handed down is too harsh and violates the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights, which prevents the government from imposing excessive fines and sentences.
How Can I Prepare for a Federal Criminal Trial?
Before attending any federal criminal trial, it is important to have a clear understanding of the charges against you. You will also want to have all relevant documents and evidence organized for review by your attorney. Your attorney can help you prepare for trial by running a practice session in which your attorney or an assistant can act as the prosecution and interrogate you in a similar manner as you may be interrogated in court. This will give you a chance to formulate your responses and practice staying calm and coherent under pressure.
Remember to be honest and fully transparent about every detail of your case, as omitting facts or lying to your attorney will only hurt your case and diminish your chances of a positive outcome. Additionally, a federal trial may be an emotionally challenging situation that could include the testimony of witnesses who may say things that make you angry and upset, but it is crucial to keep your composure and avoid any outbursts or inappropriate behavior in the courtroom, as this could potentially harm your case.
Why Should I Hire a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney for My Case?
When you are charged with a federal crime, there is a lot on the line – your freedom, your reputation, and your future. A criminal conviction can turn your life upside down, disrupt your family relationships and your finances, and put dreams and plans on hold indefinitely. You may have difficulty finding employment or taking advantage of opportunities that require you to pass a background check after serving your sentence. Fortunately, there is a lot a federal criminal defense attorney can do to help you fight back against your charges.
Your attorney can help you by investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to your charges and arrest and employing some of the defense strategies described above, such as questioning whether the evidence presented against you was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. Your attorney can help you prepare for trial or assist you in the process of deciding whether to accept a plea bargain deal or take your chances with a jury.
No federal criminal defense case is the same, so it’s important to seek legal counsel for your specific case. At The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, clients in Fairfax, VA, and surrounding areas can receive the strong legal representation and reliable advice they need to have a fighting chance for their federal criminal cases. Our attorneys have represented clients facing a variety of federal criminal charges, and they are ready to do everything they can to turn the tables in your favor, help you avoid the maximum sentence, or even get your case dismissed if possible. Contact our law office today by calling 703-688-9236 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case.