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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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:

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.

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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.

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Additional Information

Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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    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.
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