Los Angeles Federal Crime Attorneys
For Federal Court, You Need a Federal Lawyer
Most people assume that they only have to concern themselves with California laws and state officers. After all, the federal government only becomes involved in serious, country-wide crimes, right? Well, the truth is it is incredibly easy to find yourself at the mercy of the Feds. They have the money and resources to completely upend your life, and find any possible weakness to exploit in order to get a conviction against you.
We encounter many clients who ended up on the wrong side of federal law purely by accident. Unfortunately, "ignorance of the law" is not a defense that works very often. If you or your business is facing federal charges, there’s no time to wait. Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP today at (213) 688-0460 to learn about how we can help you mount an effective defense.
Federal Crime Defense Attorney – Experience is Crucial in Federal Court.
Attorney Mark Werksman is a well-known and respected federal criminal defense lawyer, with a background serving as a Deputy District Attorney and Assistant United States Attorney and has been practicing law since 1986. Attorney Alan Jackson is a former prosecutor and Assistant Head Deputy for the Major Crimes Division at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and Attorney Kelly Quinn is a certified specialist in writs and appeals. When you retain our firm, you have an entire team behind you, not just a single lawyer.
Notable Case Victories
Our firm has achieved some notable case victories, including a full acquittal for a private charter pilot facing federal charges alleging he was a participant in a drug trafficking conspiracy. The trial took seven weeks, with 50 witness appearances. After jury deliberations for eight days, the verdict was returned with the client acquitted of all charges. Another case involved a client who was accused of laundering drug money through the sale of laptops. The charges in the case were reduced to a misdemeanor, with a penalty of probation and no jail time.
Don’t Wait Until You’ve Been Charged
Most people don’t think about turning to a lawyer until they’ve already been charged with a crime. When it comes to federal crimes, this can be an expensive and consequential decision. If you have been visited by law enforcement, even in an informal capacity, it’s a good indication you are being investigated. It’s important to know what your rights are in this situation. You are under no obligation to answer any questions, nor should you do so without consulting a lawyer first. At the same time, Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code states it is against the law to lie to a federal agent. It’s imperative that you not say anything that might be incorrect. Even an accidental misstatement can be used against you.
State Crimes vs. Federal Crimes
The American government is unique in that the states are allowed to make their own laws and decisions, while, at the same time, the federal government also determines regulations for the entire country. Sometimes these laws can contradict each other, such as with the legalization of marijuana in California: it is legal for recreational use for those over the age of 21. However, on a federal level, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I drug, so using it in the wrong place could result in a felony drug charge.
This difference in laws can make things confusing. When is a crime is going to be charged as a federal crime, and when will it be charged as a state crime? The key is to remember whether the crime itself involves multiple states, or is against the federal government itself.
Violent Crimes: Charged at the State or Federal Level?
For example, a crime like assault or murder, so long as it happened solely within California, would be a crime against the citizens of the state, and thus the state itself. If the criminal crossed state lines, perhaps to kidnap their victim, then it may become a federal crime. That is because multiple states now have potential jurisdiction over the crime. While that may remain a state crime depending on what officials in each state decide, the federal government may make a decision to step and take over the investigation and prosecution.
Tax Fraud Charges in California
On the other hand, a crime like tax fraud against the IRS is automatically a federal crime, because it was committed against the federal government. A good rule of thumb when determining if the Feds will prosecute is whether the crime infringes on the Constitution or laws passed by Congress. While each state will have its own tax rules, Congress passes universal tax laws in the United States.
It is also important to note that any arrest made by a federal officer can become a federal crime. Because the U.S. government encompasses all of the states, the entire country is within the federal government’s jurisdiction. State police officers can really only operate within their state, but a federal officer can operate throughout the entire country. Of course, who arrests you isn’t the only thing that separate state and federal crimes.
What Makes a Federal Crime Different?
There are many differences in the way state crimes and federal crimes are prosecuted in the United Sates. Primarily, they will come down to funding. State police, prosecutors, and judges are paid via the state budget. Federal officers, attorneys, and judges are paid through federal funding, which is substantially higher than what any single state can offer.
On top of that, there are many more federal agencies allowed to prosecute criminal activity than there are at the state level. On the federal level, you could be investigated and charged by:
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- The United Sates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- The Secret Service
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
By having separate departments for separate issues, the federal government is able to give its investigations more manpower and longer hours. They will be far more thorough, and uncover all possible evidence.
The truth is that a federal trial is going to be far harder to win than a state trial. The prosecution will have more resources and more time. On top of that, the trial will be in a federal court, so you may find yourself far from your home, your family, and any support systems that you have built up in your life. That being said, you should never assume that your charges will automatically be moved to the federal court. After all, the federal government will likely only take over for a handful of select crimes.
What Are Some Examples of Federal Crimes?
When it comes to federal court, experience matters. Most Los Angeles attorneys have little experience dealing with federal charges. Not only are the systems different, with unfamiliar rules and procedures, but the penalties for convictions tend to be more severe. And while local prosecutors may be overburdened and willing to cut deals to lighten their dockets, federal prosecutors have plenty of time and resources to build their cases. That’s why federal investigations can take months or years before charges are filed in the first place.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our attorneys are well-versed in a variety of federal criminal charges, including the following:
- Money laundering
- Bank and wire fraud
- Mail fraud or tampering
- Bank robbery
- Gun trafficking or other gun-related charges
- Drug crimes, including trafficking
- Illegal gambling
- Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations
- Child pornography
- Identity theft
- Credit card theft
- Electoral fraud
- Immigration offenses
Because the state and federal courts are in separate jurisdictions, it’s possible to face charges for the same crime in both systems. This may seem like double jeopardy, but the Supreme Court has ruled it is legal. Most of the crimes above could be charged both locally and federally, and you will be forced to defend yourself in two separate cases, doubling the expense and legal danger.
One of the first strategies we employ when a client is facing charges is trying to convince federal authorities that the case is best handled at the local level.
The Federal Arrest Process: What You Need to Know.
- Step one: The Investigation
An arrest by a federal law enforcement agency may come after months, or even years of investigation by the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service (for counterfeiting cases), or DHS personnel. The investigation may involve a search warrant to access your home, business, vehicles, or other property. Many techniques could be employed, including searches, data from informants, recorded phone calls, bank information, to gather evidence to present to the Federal Grand Jury to seek an indictment.
- Step two: The Grand Jury
For felony federal offense, the prosecutor presents evidence to a special type of jury, a Grand Jury. Witnesses may testify, evidence shown to the members of the jury, and an outline of the case presented by the prosecutor. The grand jury votes in secret about whether the evidence convinces them that a felony has been committed. Witnesses that are compelled to testify to the grand jury cannot have an attorney. With a jury of 16 to 23 members, at least 12 must agree to issue an indictment – the formal charge.
- Step three: The Indictment
A federal prosecutor will review and evaluate the evidence in the case to determine if it is sufficient to bring the case to a Federal Grand Jury. The evidence in a federal case will include direct (such as eyewitness testimony) and circumstantial evidence. An indictment is the formal notice that it is believed that a person committed a crime.
- Step four: The Arrest
Law enforcement will obtain an arrest warrant for the person named in the indictment. The alleged offender is then arrested and taken into custody.
- Step five: Arraignment
IN an appearance before a Magistrate Judge, the defendant is read the charges, and advised of their rights, and enters a plea. A trial date may be selected, and hearings scheduled for motions, such as the suppression of some evidence, which may be requested by either side. The Federal “Speedy Trial Act” establishes the maximum time allowed for each stage of prosecution, and the trial must occur within 70 days of the arraignment.
- Step six: Bond
Once arrested, the accused person will appear before a judge, who will inform the accused of their rights regarding legal representation, sets bond or imposes specific conditions on release.
- Step seven: Trial
The trial is held in federal court, with the prosecution and defense presenting evidence regarding the crime. The government prosecutor has the burden to prove that the accused is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The jury verdict must be unanimous.
- Step eight: Pre-sentencing
If found “not guilty,” the defendant is freed. If found guilty, the U.S. Probation Office generates a pre-sentencing Investigative Report, with information regarding the defendant, victims of the crime, and a recommendation for the sentence to be imposed.
- Step nine: Sentencing
About two months following a finding of guilt, the U.S. District Court will impose the sentence, which could involve incarceration in federal prison, supervised release, fines, an order of restitution to victims of the crime, or a combination.
If you become aware that you are under investigation for a federal crime, it is imperative that you are protected by a talented, experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Exercise your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney – the right attorney.
Call Now to Learn More
If you suspect you are under federal investigation, or you want to ensure compliance with federal regulations, the professional and knowledgeable legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can help. Our trial lawyers have experience in federal court and we’re ready to protect you and your business from federal prosecutors. Federal officers are trained to trip people up and goad suspects into making conflicting reports. A skilled attorney by your side can help make sure that doesn’t happen. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free case evaluation.
- What To Expect Following an Indictment
- What Should You Do If You Get a Target Letter?
- How Is Jurisdiction Determined Between State, Local, and Federal Governments?
- What You Should Do Immediately After an Arrest
Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.