Anytime a crime violates federal law, is committed on federal property, committed across state lines, you can be charged in federal court. Federal criminal cases are especially concerning because prosecutors have access to more resources and have more experience prosecuting crimes than in state cases. If you have been charged with a federal crime or are the subject of a federal criminal investigation it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney experienced defending clients at the federal level.
Jennifer Harowitz Law routinely defends clients in federal criminal cases and has the experience necessary to handle federal criminal charges. Attorney Jennifer Harowitz brings compassion and strategic thinking to complex federal criminal defense cases. Jennifer is there to be your advocate, never judging you while working with you to defend your rights in your time of need.
Federal Crimes v. State Crimes
Federal crimes are criminal acts that are violations of the United States Code, established by the United States Congress. Federal crimes are investigated by various federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Border Patrol, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive.
Federal crimes are prosecuted by the Department of Justice through United States Attorneys. Each federal district has its own United States Attorney assigned to cover that district. United States Attorneys receive directives from the President and the Attorney General as to what types of crimes to place prosecutorial focus on. They are also well funded as they receive a budget from the United States Congress.
State crimes are prosecuted by state, county, and city attorneys for violations of state law. The investigational arm in state prosecutions is usually a city police department, county sheriff, or state bureau of investigations. Generally, state crimes are prosecuted by prosecutors that are assigned to districts throughout the state and funded by state governments. State crimes generally involve harm to people (assault, battery, homicide), property crimes (theft), drug crimes, and traffic offenses.
Examples of Federal Crimes
The Constitution provides that states cannot address legal areas that the federal government has already legislated. Federal legislation covers specific areas, some of these crimes may also be crimes under state law but may also be prosecuted by the federal government such as the sale of illegal drugs and illegal possession of weapons. Federal authorities also have jurisdiction over crimes that cross state borders. Other crimes are only federal crimes, such as kidnapping or robbery of a federally insured bank. The federal government also prohibits many financial white collar crimes such as bank fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. Finally, federal law also governs crimes that occur on federal lands.
The Best Federal Criminal Defense Begins Early
Being charged with a federal crime is such a serious matter because federal prosecutors generally only pursue charges where they have built a solid case. As a result, your best defense to federal charges is to seek the advice of counsel as soon as you are aware you are under investigation. In many cases, federal investigators have already obtained evidence against you before they even attempt to interview you about a crime. In other cases, you will only learn you are under investigation when federal authorities serve a search warrant on you to obtain incriminating evidence. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side will assist you in making sure your constitutional rights are protected and you do not incriminate yourself in any way during the investigation.
Punishment of Federal Crimes: Sentencing Guidelines
The punishment for federal crimes is determined by the application of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. While the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are not mandatory, upon a conviction a federal judge is required to consider the guidelines when imposing a criminal sentence. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines look at two primary factors: (1) the crime convicted of; and (2) the defendant’s criminal history.
The guidelines take each factor into account by assigning criminal offenses with an offense level. Each offense level is assigned a sentencing recommendation. Once the recommended sentence for the offense level is determined, the sentence is then adjusted upward or downward based on the defendant’s criminal history. Criminal history is quantified by tallying points based on prior criminal sentences. The points are tallied and the results fall into one of six categories with increasing consequences for increased points.
In addition, there are many other factors that allow a federal judge to depart from the recommended sentence and apply harsher sentencing if warranted. As such, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines involve a complicated calculation based on prior acts and leave little room for a judge’s discretion in punishment. When faced with criminal charges, it is important to have an attorney with knowledge of the federal sentencing laws on your side.
Protect Your Rights by Contracting an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Becoming the subject of a federal criminal investigation is a serious matter. Federal prosecutors are notorious for building strong cases and refusing to plea bargain. In addition, the stakes are high as if convicted, federal judges have little discretion to stray from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. With this in mind, it is important to take steps as early as possible to establish a defense and protect your rights.
When faced with such an indomitable force, you need the guidance of trusted legal counsel to protect your rights. With over 25 years of experience defending criminal allegations in federal court, Jennifer Horwitz Law has the skills necessary to protect your rights. Contact Jennifer Horwitz Law today for compassionate and dedicated advocacy.