Federal crimes are serious offences that can have significant consequences for those accused of committing them. From white-collar financial fraud to drug trafficking, federal crimes encompass a wide range of illegal activities that violate federal law and regulations. If you or someone you know is facing charges of a federal crime, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of the legal process involved. So let’s get started!
Are There Any Defences to Federal Crimes?
Facing federal criminal charges can be overwhelming and terrifying, but it’s important to remember that there are potential defences available. First and foremost, the best and strongest defence you have is your lawyer — look out for Federal Crimes Attorney in Oakland if you reside in California. These professionals will help you navigate the law and understand if any wrongful claim was made against you. These include:
- Mistaken identity, which asserts that the defendant was not the person who committed the crime.
- Lack of intent, meaning that the accused did not have the intention or knowledge necessary to commit a crime.
- Entrapment is when law enforcement officials induce someone into committing a crime they would not have otherwise committed.
- Duress or coercion, if an individual acted under threat of physical harm or death by another party at gunpoint or knife-point.
- Arguing that evidence was obtained illegally through violations of constitutional rights like unreasonable searches and seizures. Some defendants may choose to negotiate plea deals with prosecutors rather than go to trial.
What is a Federal Crime?
A federal crime is a criminal offence that violates federal laws and regulations, which are established by the United States government.
What sets federal crimes apart is that they are prosecuted in federal courts, as opposed to state or local courts. This means that the penalties for these types of offences can be more severe than those handed down at the state level.
Note that while many criminal activities can violate both state and federal laws simultaneously — such as drug possession or robbery — it’s ultimately up to law enforcement officials to determine whether a case will be handled at the state or federal level based on jurisdictional factors.
Who Investigates Federal Crimes?
When it comes to investigating federal crimes, several agencies and departments have the authority to do so — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), US Marshals Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.
The FBI is perhaps the most well-known agency responsible for investigating federal crimes. It has jurisdiction over a wide range of offences, including terrorism, organized crime, cybercrime, public corruption, and civil rights violations.
The DEA primarily investigates drug-related offences at the federal level. Its agents work to disrupt drug trafficking organizations and prevent illegal drugs from entering the country.
The IRS-CID focuses on financial crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering. They investigate individuals or businesses suspected of failing to report income or hiding assets from the government.
The US Marshals are responsible for apprehending fugitives wanted by different law enforcement agencies across states in America. They also protect witnesses in high-profile cases that pose significant threats or danger.
Homeland Security Investigations
Homeland Security Investigations deals with complex investigations regarding human trafficking along with smuggling activities related to cultural property, thefts, etc.
What Are Some Common Federal Crimes?
Federal crimes are serious offences that violate federal laws and regulations. These types of crimes can range from white-collar crimes like embezzlement to violent offences. Here are some common federal crimes:
- Drug Trafficking: This is a widespread offence that involves the transportation, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs across state lines.
- Fraud: This includes various forms of fraudulent activity such as identity theft, wire fraud, healthcare fraud, and mortgage fraud, among others.
- Cybercrime: With the rise in technology comes cybercrimes which include hacking into computer systems or stealing personal information online.
- Money Laundering: Criminal organizations often try to conceal their illegally obtained money through various means including laundering it through legitimate businesses.
- Immigration Offenses: Illegal entry into the United States or hiring undocumented immigrants can lead to federal charges.
Overall, any violation of federal law could potentially result in criminal charges being brought against an individual or organization involved in committing said crime.
How are Federal Crimes Prosecuted?
Federal crimes are prosecuted by the United States government through federal courts. The process usually begins with an investigation conducted by a federal agency such as the FBI, DEA, or ATF. These agencies gather evidence and build a case against the suspect.
Once enough evidence has been gathered, the case is presented to a grand jury, which decides whether there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. If the grand jury determines that there is sufficient evidence, it issues an indictment, and charges are filed against the defendant.
The next step in the process is arraignment, where the defendant appears before a judge to enter their plea of guilty or not guilty. If they plead not guilty, then trial preparations begin. During trial preparation, both sides exchange information about witnesses and evidence they plan to present at trial. This stage can take several months or even years depending on how complex and involved the case is.
If no plea bargain agreement has been reached between prosecution and defence attorneys prior to the trial, the case will be heard before a judge or jury in court where both sides will present their arguments based on evidence provided regarding the guilt or innocence of the accused person.
What are the penalties for federal crimes?
If you are found guilty of a federal crime, the penalties can be severe. The exact punishment will depend on the nature and severity of the offence committed. Here are some of the most common penalties you should expect to face.
- Imprisonment can range from a few months to life in prison without parole. In addition to incarceration, there may also be fines imposed on top of any restitution or compensation that must be paid to victims.
- Assets may also be seized by the government for certain offences (drug trafficking or financial fraud). This could include property, money in bank accounts, and other valuables used in connection with the crime.
- In some cases, individuals convicted of federal crimes may also face deportation if they are not US citizens. This is especially true for immigration-related offences like smuggling people across borders.
Whether you are facing charges or simply want to stay informed, understanding the basics of a federal crime can protect your rights and ensure fair treatment under the law.
While there may be defences available for certain types of federal crimes, it is always best to consult with a qualified attorney who can guide you through the legal process and provide expert advice on your case.
Remember that federal investigations are typically conducted by highly skilled professionals who have access to advanced resources and technology. If you suspect that you are under investigation for a federal crime, take immediate action to protect yourself.