Federal Criminal Defense Attorney, Wichita Falls TX
Federal criminal law is the body of law that governs crimes that are committed in violation of federal law, as opposed to state law. This type of law applies to offenses that take place on federal property, involve a federal agency or affect interstate commerce, among other things. It is enforced by federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and prosecuted in federal courts.
Some examples of federal crimes include:
- Drug trafficking
- Fraud (e.g. securities fraud, health care fraud, bank fraud)
- Computer crimes (e.g. hacking, identity theft)
- Money laundering
- White-collar crimes (e.g. embezzlement, bribery)
- Weapons offenses
- Environmental crimes
Differences Between Federal and State Crimes
Federal criminal cases differ from state criminal cases in several key ways. For one, federal cases can often move much quicker than state cases. Typically, once a case is indicted by the federal government a defendant only has a few weeks at most to make a decision whether or not to have a trial or work out a plea deal. Additionally, federal sentencing guidelines are typically more severe than those at the state level, and there is often less room for judicial discretion. I am often asked by clients who are familiar with the Texas criminal justice system if they can just “plead out” to X amount of time that day. However, with rare exceptions federal sentences are typically decided by the judge, not by agreement between the prosecutor and defendant. Typically, in federal cases if a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty, there is a sentencing hearing that occurs several months later. In between that time, the United States Probation Office will conduct what’s called a presentence interview (PSI) of the defendant with their attorney present. The Probation Office will then generate a presentence report (PSR) that is given to the judge and the parties. The PSR is critical because the judge will rely on it heavily when making a sentencing decision. A defendant should expect their attorney to discuss the PSR with them and draft any legal objections to the PSR that are necessary (such as if the probation officer double counted the amount of drugs attributed to the defendant). Additionally, we typically draft a sentencing memo for the judge before the hearing that outlines the client’s life and circumstances, and sets forth any reasons for a sentence below the guidelines.
Can I be charged in federal court and state court for the same crime?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In fact, in 2019 the United States Supreme Court refused to overturn the “dual sovereignty” exception to the Double Jeopardy clause. This means that because the state and federal governments are separate, each could pursue a charge of, for example, felon in possession of a firearm, out of the same crime. In cases where a person has both state and federal charges, having an experienced attorney who can navigate both areas of law is critical to avoid the two sentences from being stacked unintentionally.
If you are or a loved one are charged with a federal offense, call our office today
Scott Stillson is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled federal cases at both the trial level and on appeal. If you or a loved one have been charged by the federal government with a criminal offense, call the Law Office of Scott Stillson today for a free phone consultation.
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Read Scott’s Article here to know your rights if stopped by the police!
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