Facing federal criminal charges can be the most terrifying and stressful experience that should prompt you to seek immediate federal criminal defense guidance. Federal crimes are any criminal activities that violate federal laws. They are the most complex crime charges anyone can face because a conviction can have very harsh consequences. Having federal criminal charges on your name means that you are against very powerful prosecutors with the jurisdiction and resources to hold you accountable.
Federal crime convictions come with the most severe penalties and consequences in the country. Furthermore, the convictions for federal crimes are high because federal prosecutions are supported by extensive investigations by federal investigative units such as the Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA), and others. It is wise to seek federal criminal defense counsel when faced with federal criminal charges.
What makes an offense a federal crime?
All crimes that violate federal laws are considered federal crimes. They are stipulated in title 18 of the United States Code. The federal government holds jurisdictions whenever criminal actions take place on federal property, involve federal officials, or cross state lines. Several agencies may be involved in the investigations of these crimes, including:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- The US Secret Service (USS)
- The Drug and Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
The federal criminal system
United States attorneys are responsible for enforcing federal law within their territorial districts. If you face a federal criminal charge and your case proceeds to trial, a federal prosecutor will be in charge of your case. Federal cases fall under the criminal division of the United States Attorney’s office that is divided into seven sections including:
- Narcotics enforcement.
- Reactive crimes.
- Major frauds.
- National security crimes.
- Cyberspace crimes
- Financial litigation and appellate.
- General crimes.
The nature of your federal crime and charges determine the section that is assigned to prosecute you. The USA Attorneys cannot convict you independently, so the federal government must bring you before neutral arbiters known as federal judges. The federal prosecutors must convince the judges with evidence that you have committed the federal crimes you are charged with. The federal judge listens to the arguments and decides whether to hold you in jail as the prosecution continues or not.
For you to be convicted and sentenced, the federal government has to prove its case to a petit jury. A petit jury comprises people who reside in the district where the court is, although many defendants waive this right and plead guilty instead of going to trial. Many defendants do that because there is usually some government consideration for guilty pleas.
Unlike state crimes, when you are convicted for a federal crime, you are not entitled to a jury punishment hearing in a Federal crime proceeding. But the judge sentences you according to the federal sentencing guidelines.
Note that divulging any information to a federal agent without legal representation can jeopardize your case and make it hard to fight your charges. But with a federal criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to avoid the criminal charges of face lesser charges.