In California, the majority of criminal prosecutions are for violations of state crimes, like robbery (California Penal Code § 211 PC), burglary (California Penal Code § 459 PC), rape (California Penal Code § 261 PC) and murder (California Penal Code § 189 PC), but there are also criminal offenses that the federal government has jurisdiction over, which are subject to more intensive investigation and tend to carry much more severe penalties than state crimes. If you are under investigation for a federal crime, or if you have been arrested for violating a U.S. federal law, contact our federal crimes defense attorneys today for qualified legal help. Our defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles provides aggressive representation for defendants facing federal criminal charges in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. We have a thorough understanding of federal laws and court procedures and our expertise in fighting federal crimes charges can significantly improve your chances of reaching a favorable conclusion to your case.
Affordable Federal Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
In some cases, federal investigations can go on for months or even years before formal charges are filed, and at that point, it can be difficult for a defense attorney to catch up to the other side’s extensive research and documentation. For this reason, it is recommended that anyone contacted by federal investigators take immediate action by hiring a Los Angeles federal crimes lawyer. It is understandable that you would want to wait to determine whether you are actually a suspect before retaining an attorney, but early intervention by an aggressive and resourceful defense attorney could potentially protect you from an indictment. Our criminal defense attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the federal court system and know which defense strategies work best in fighting federal crimes charges. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients, regardless of what federal crimes they have been accused of, and we will aggressively defend your interests throughout the course of your case.
Any crime that is committed on federal property or that involves federal agents, or any crime that violates a federal law in the United States is considered a federal crime, and these types of offenses can be investigated by either the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Some common crimes that may result in federal criminal charges include the following:
- Identity theft
- Bank robbery
- Child pornography
- Drug trafficking
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
- Healthcare fraud
- Bank fraud
- Insider trading
- Mail fraud
Convictions for Federal Crimes
Whether you have been charged with a white-collar federal crime, like bank fraud or forgery, or a federal drug crime, like large-scale methamphetamine manufacturing or possession of false or forged prescriptions, the prosecution’s responsibility in the case remains the same. In order to convict you of a federal crime, the federal prosecutor assigned to your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. For instance, in a federal bank robbery investigation under 18 U.S. Code § 2113, you can only be found guilty of the federal crime if the prosecution can establish the following:
- You took or attempted to take money, property or another item of value from the person or presence of another belonging to or in the care, custody or possession of a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association;
- You used force, violence or intimidation to take such money, property or other item of value; and
- At the time of the robbery, the bank had its deposits insurance by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration, or Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation.
How are Federal Crimes Different from State Crimes?
In the United States, the criminal justice system is divided into two distinct areas: federal criminal law and state criminal law. Each state, California included, has its own set of criminal laws and, separate from that, the federal government also has its own set of laws that each state is required to follow. That means, as a California resident, you are subject to both state criminal laws established under the California Statutes and federal criminal laws created by Congress.
Federal crimes differ from state crimes quite a bit, and not just in the severity of penalties associated with criminal convictions. It is true that federal crimes typically involve more serious offenses than state crimes, and are therefore punished more harshly, but there are other important differences that set federal crimes apart from state crimes, some of which are fairly obvious. For example, state crimes in California are investigated by local law enforcement and are prosecuted by state district attorneys in state courts, while federal crimes are investigated by federal agents and are prosecuted by United States attorneys in federal district courts. If you are convicted of a state crime, you could face time in a county jail or state prison, but if you are convicted of a federal crime and your punishment includes a prison sentence, you will serve that time in a federal prison.
Although many crimes are only prosecuted as state crimes and others are only prosecuted as federal crimes, some criminal offenses can be prosecuted under either state law or federal law, depending on the circumstances of the case. And in rare cases, a single criminal offense can be prosecuted in both California state court, under the California Penal Code, and in federal court, under the United States Code, without violating the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Penalties for Federal Crimes Convictions
Just like state crimes, the penalties for federal crimes vary, depending on the nature of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. Generally speaking, the penalties associated with a federal crime can be significantly more severe than the penalties imposed on those convicted of state crimes, which is why it is so important to hire an experienced Los Angeles federal crimes defense attorney when facing prosecution for a federal offense. Federal sentencing guidelines, covered under 18 U.S. Code § 3553, establish consistent sentencing ranges for federal crimes, based on a number of factors, including the severity of the criminal offense, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the defendant’s criminal record. What this means is that federal judges have much less discretion in determining appropriate sentencing for federal crimes, and if your attorney is not familiar with these unique guidelines and procedures, the strength of your defense could suffer as a result.
It is also important to know that if you are charged with a federal drug crime or violent crime, or any crime carrying a potential sentence of death or life in prison, you could be detained until your court date, depending on the evidence against you, your criminal history, the circumstances of the offense, your physical and mental condition, your financial resources, your record of appearance at court proceedings, and the risk you may pose, if any, if you are released, among other factors.
Defenses to Federal Crimes Charges
Just because you have been charged with a federal crime does not mean you will be found guilty. There are a number of defense strategies your criminal defense attorney can present in court to explain or justify your alleged criminal behavior, and, depending on the facts of the case, your attorney may be able to help you avoid a criminal conviction altogether. In order to develop a strong defense in your federal crimes case, our criminal defense attorneys will:
- Review the circumstances that led to your arrest
- Determine if you were the victim of an illegal search and seizure by the police
- Determine if the search warrant the police used to gather evidence against you was supported by probable cause
- Verify that the charges you are facing match the severity of the alleged offense
- Negotiate with the prosecution to reach a favorable plea agreement that will minimize the penalties you may face if convicted
Hiring a Skilled Federal Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The federal court system functions differently than a California state court does, with different criminal charges, sentencing guidelines and rules of criminal procedure. Any time you are facing federal criminal charges, your freedom and your future are on the line, and without a knowledgeable Los Angeles federal crimes attorney on your side, you could end up paying hefty fines and serving a significant prison sentence, not to mention carrying a criminal record with you for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with a federal offense, or if you are under investigation for a federal offense, the sooner you hire a federal crimes defense attorney, the better. Federal criminal charges can carry the most severe penalties and when facing such charges, you need a Los Angeles federal crimes defense lawyer who can handle the full force of the federal government. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss the best way to defend yourself against federal criminal charges.