FEDERAL CRIMES

In the United States, a federal crime or federal offense is a crime that is either made illegal by U.S federal legislation or a crime that occurs on U.S federal property. A federal crime may be investigated by the FBI, DEA, DHS, BATF, ICE, IRS or any number of other federal agencies (see expanded list below). Federal law is governed by federal statutes, such as Title 18 of the U.S. Code, and federal case law.

Federal cases differ in many ways from state cases, so it is critical that someone being investigated for or charged with a federal crime have the guidance of an attorney with significant experience in defending federal criminal cases.

In federal court many individuals are initially charged with a document called a complaint. The defendant will either receive a summons to appear from the court, or a warrant will be issued for the defendant to be arrested and brought before the court.

If the defendant was arrested, the initial appearance is supposed to occur within 48 hours of the arrest. At this initial appearance, the accused will receive a copy of the charges and, if the prosecutor seeks to detain the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer will have an opportunity to argue for bail.

The federal prosecutor can agree to release someone on bail or contest release, but the ultimate decision about whether to release someone on bail is up to the court. The lawyers at the firm Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP have extensive experience obtaining federal bail for our clients, through getting prosecutors to agree to bail packages, filing motions and arguing at contested bail hearings.

The next step is a formal charge, by either an indictment or an information. An indictment is filed when the prosecutor presents evidence before a grand jury and the grand jury finds there is probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a federal crime. Sometimes a defendant will waive their right to an indictment and agree to be charged with an information.

The following court appearance is the arraignment, where the defendant is asked to plead guilty or not guilty. In the Central District of California, a federal judge is randomly assigned at the arraignment. During this time the defendant will also be given discovery. This may include documents, reports, and records, audio and visual recordings, all from the government’s investigation.

There are myriad ways to resolve a federal criminal matter and what is best for any individual depends on facts and circumstances unique to each case. Most federal cases involve some plea bargaining with a federal prosecutor. If the parties cannot reach a plea disposition, then the case will proceed to trial.

If a defendant pleads guilty, or proceeds to trial and is convicted, the next step is sentencing. This is arguably the most important court appearance in a criminal case. Before the sentencing hearing, the defendant meets with a Probation Officer to provide background information so the Probation Officer may prepare a Pre-Sentence Report. The Pre-Sentence Report is supposed to be a neutral report to give the judge background information on the offense and the defendant, and to provide a calculation of the applicable sentencing guidelines.

Prior to the sentencing hearing, the defendant’s lawyer will have an opportunity to object to any inaccuracies in the Pre-Sentence Report as well as file a written memorandum stating the defendant’s position on what the sentence should be. The lawyers at the Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP have considerable experience preparing federal sentencing memorandums and several of our lawyers have also attended seminars on the federal sentencing guidelines.

If you or anyone you know are being investigated for, or are charged with a federal crime, you should Contact the firm Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP immediately.

For more information on specific federal agencies see the list below.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

United States Secret Service

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

United States Attorney’s Office

Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

United States Border Patrol

United States Marshals Service (USMS)

United States Postal Inspection Service