Parnham & Associates
Criminal Law Attorneys in Houston, Texas
Federal crimes usually involve the same charges as state crimes; the primary differences are that federal trials occur in a different court system, and the federal government has almost unlimited resources at its disposal. Even if you are only under investigation for a federal crime, you need to hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
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Federal Crimes Legal Defense:
A federal crime is a violation of a statute passed by the United States Congress.
In the American legal system the individual states carry some areas of responsibility for enforcing criminal laws, and the Federal government covers other areas. Sometimes the areas overlap and the two government agencies then decide who will take responsibility. Federal crimes are generally more serious than crimes charged in state courts, and the penalties in federal cases are generally more harsh: many offenses carry a mandatory sentence of five or ten years in prison. Actions which violate both state and federal laws may be prosecuted in either (or both) jurisdictions without violating the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.
Any crime committed on federal property will always be prosecuted in federal court. If an act committed on federal property violates state law only, it will be prosecuted in federal court under the substantive law of the state where it occurred, although federal rules and procedures will apply.
The federal criminal code contains over 120 categories of crimes, and additional federal codes contain other criminal prohibitions. Title 18 also contains the federal rules of criminal procedure, which set forth the rules which govern the handling of criminal cases from start to finish. Although there are literally thousands of crimes which can be charged in Federal courts, federal prosecutors generally focus on:
- Illegal drug manufacture and trafficking,
- Immigration law violations
- Tax law violations
- Sex crimes such as child pornography and rape
- Mail and wire fraud, including postal offenses and Internet crimes
- Bank embezzlement or robbery
- Gun laws (such as a felon in possession of a firearm)
- Hate crimes
- Any crimes which occur on or involve federal property.
Federal criminal offenses are usually investigated by agents of federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, Secret Service, etc.; occasionally state law enforcement officers work with federal agencies, but generally if any of these agents are involved in your arrest or questioning then you are facing federal prosecution.
The United States Marshal's service has the responsibility to house persons arrested for a federal charge. Initially, the person arrested will probably be held for some hours by the arresting agency (DEA, FBI, INS, Customs, Border Patrol,.etc). At the initial arraignment the person will be interviewed by someone from the federal public defenders' office. Unless the person has already hired an attorney, federal defenders can represent everyone at the initial arraignment.
Unlike arrests for state law crimes, you cannot go to a bail bondsman and post a bail to get released. Instead, you have to wait until you are brought before a magistrate judge, who will then set conditions of release including a bail amount. The federal prosecutors may request pre-trial detention based upon risk of flight or danger to the community.
Federal prosecutors (assistant United States Attorneys) are tasked with the responsibility of enforcing federal laws and prosecuting those who break them. They will typically meet with federal agents and review the evidence gathered in a federal investigation. If they believe there is enough evidence to prosecute someone for a federal crime then they will usually file a federal indictment with the United States District Court that has jurisdiction over a particular federal case.
The Probation Department, the Criminal Defense Attorney and the Assistant United States Attorney will all file sentencing position papers regarding what each believe an individual charged with a federal crime should receive. Ultimately, it is up to the sentencing judge to make the final decision.
In Federal cases the possible sentences are covered by the individual criminal statutes and the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Federal Judges have less discretion in determining an appropriate sentence because of these guidelines. In Federal court, there is much less ability to plea bargain.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for individuals and organizations convicted of felonies and serious (Class A) misdemeanors in the United States federal courts system. These guidelines are based on the level or severity of the offense and criminal history of the defendant. For the most serious crimes penalties can include up to life in prison and fines over $250,000.00
Your attorney must have the experience and knowledge to know how to present your case so that it may fall outside the Sentencing guidelines, allowing for a more favorable sentence.
If you have been charged with a federal crime you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Parnham & Associates today at (713) 224.3967 or use our convenient online submission form. Depending on the circumstances, we have many options in mounting a strong defense for you.
Our attorneys are intimately familiar with all facets of criminal defense and may help clients with the following:
- Work to get the charges dropped or lowered
- Interview police, involved parties, and any possible witnesses to expose any lies or exaggerations
- Make sure that no evidence against our client was obtained illegally
- Conduct a thorough pre-trial investigation
- Employ a private investigator, ballistics expert, polygraphist, or any other experts that may be able to help strengthen our client's defense
- Obtain expert witnesses to testify on behalf of our clients
- Negotiate with prosecutors to make sure our clients face the minimum possible penalties
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The Law Office of Parnham & Associates
440 Louisiana St., Suite 200 (The Lyric Centre), Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 224.3967 | Fax: 713.224.2815
This is for general informational purpose only. This information: • DOES NOT represent a legal advice or opinion, • DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship, • DOES NOT account for community-supervision eligibility, special punishment issues, mandatory minimum confinement, enhancements, and "Exceptional Sentences" under Chapter 12 Subchapter D of the Texas Penal Code, • DOES NOT apply Corporations & Associations. • DOES NOT represent the unique circumstances of your case.