Few things are more frightening than being arrested for a crime. Things can get even more overwhelming when you’re charged with a federal offense. Being accused of committing a federal crime is no laughing matter.
If convicted, you could face some severe penalties, including:
- Federal prison time
- A permanent criminal record
If you would like to avoid these punishments, you will need to aggressively defend yourself against the claims of the FBI, ATF, DEA, or whichever federal law enforcement agency is investigating you. Of course, you should not tackle this mammoth task alone. Instead, you should enlist the help of our experienced federal defense lawyers.
The attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC in Montgomery County have years of experience representing clients who have been charged with a wide variety of federal crimes. When you need us, we will be there for you too. Just give our Dayton, Ohio law offices a call to set up an initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.
Understanding the Differences Between State and Federal Crimes
Before you can adequately defend yourself against your criminal charge, you must first gain a better understanding of the key differences between state crimes and federal crimes.
The vast majority of offenses that are committed in Ohio are state crimes. That’s because the most common crimes (robbery, rape, domestic violence, arson, murder, etc.) are violations of state law – not federal law.
State crimes are investigated by local police departments and sheriff’s offices. Once an arrest has been made, they are then prosecuted by a state district attorney. If the case makes it to trial, it will be argued in front of a state court judge.
During the course of the state hearing, the accused can be represented by any attorney who is licensed in that state. If found guilty of the crime, their punishment will be doled out in accordance with local guidelines. In Ohio, criminal penalties are laid out in the Ohio Revised Code.
A federal crime occurs when a person violates a law or statute set forth by the United States Congress. Crimes that take place on federal land, crimes where the defendant crosses state lines, and crimes that involve federal officers may also be charged as federal offenses.
Although state crimes are usually looked into by local law enforcement, federal crimes are investigated by national agencies like the FBI, DEA, and ATF. They are then prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys.
When federal crimes make it to trial, they are argued in a federal courtroom, in front of a federal judge. There are three federal courts in the state of Ohio:
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Only attorneys who have satisfied certain requirements may represent clients in federal court.
If the defendant is found guilty of the federal crime, they will be punished in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. Penalties for federal crimes can often be quite a bit more severe than those for state crimes.
Can You Be Tried For the Same Crime in Both State and Federal Court?
Most Americans are at least somewhat aware of the double-jeopardy rule in the criminal justice system. Generally speaking, this rule states that a defendant who is acquitted of a crime cannot be tried again for the same crime in the same jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, because the state courts and the federal courts are not considered to be the same jurisdiction, the double-jeopardy rule does not protect defendants from being tried in both systems.
In short, the federal court system has the authority to charge, try, and convict defendants who have already been acquitted in a state courtroom. In fact, the federal courts can even choose to pursue prosecution after the defendant has been found guilty in a state court and is currently serving time in prison.
Common Types of Federal Crimes
There are lots of reasons why an individual may be charged with a crime by the federal government. Many of the most commonly charged federal crimes fall into one of the following categories.
Drug crimes that involve the transportation of controlled substances from one state to another usually end up in the federal court system. The same is true of drug cases in which the arresting officer was a federal agent. Punishments depend on the exact nature of the drug crime, but are often quite a bit more severe than similar state convictions.
Though the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s rights to own and bear arms, the federal government outlines numerous laws that must be followed when selling, transporting, and using firearms. When these regulations are broken, the ensuing case will be tried in federal court – and is likely to result in a fairly hefty punishment.
The federal government invests a great deal of time and money investigating white-collar crimes such as tax evasion, money laundering, and embezzlement. Though these crimes are often regarded as less serious than other offenses, they can still result in lengthy prison sentences and large fines.
In recent years, online crimes such as internet fraud and identity theft have become much more commonplace than ever before. Because such offenses cross state lines and have a detrimental effect on the nation as a whole, they are investigated and prosecuted as federal crimes. As with just about all federal offenses, penalties for online crimes can be quite severe.
The federal government is extremely interested in enforcing immigration law. Crossing the border illegally and overstaying a temporary visa are both examples of violations of federal law. Those who are caught committing crimes such as these will be placed on trial in front of a federal judge, and may face fines, prison time, and even deportation.
Sexually motivated crimes such as child pornography, sex trafficking, and aggravated sexual abuse are treated especially seriously by the federal government and its investigative agencies. This is especially the case if the crimes are occurring on a large scale or are crossing state lines. Those who are found guilty of sex crimes in a federal courtroom should expect to be penalized with a lengthy prison term.
Why Should I Hire an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney to Defend Against My Charges?
Have you have been charged with a federal crime and wish to maximize your chances of avoiding a serious punishment? It’s in your best interest to seek out experienced legal representation as quickly as possible.
Knowledge of the Federal Justice System
The federal justice system is so large and complex that even many state-based criminal attorneys do not understand it. Fortunately, the experienced lawyers at Suhre & Associates have been working within the system for so long that we know it well. We can help you understand the next steps in your process and work to use any loopholes in the system to your advantage.
Increased Negotiation Power
While you are being held by the federal authorities, there is a good chance that the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting your case will offer you a plea bargain. However, this deal is usually just an opening offer and can be negotiated and improved. Our skilled lawyers have worked out countless deals with prosecuting attorneys, and we can do the same for you.
Providing Actionable Guidance
Throughout your federal case, you will likely face a lot of tough decisions. Without sound legal advice, it can be difficult to know which path you should take. The federal defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates can provide you with actionable guidance and support. With one of our lawyers by your side, your path forward will become much clearer.
Effective Case Strategy
If you hope to have your federal charges reduced or dismissed, you will need to come up with an effective defense strategy. Doing so alone is almost impossible. Fortunately, our skilled attorneys can work with you to develop a strategy that is customized to your specific case. We will design a strategy to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.
Vigorously Protecting Your Rights
During your arrest and investigation, the authorities must not violate your constitutional rights. Unfortunately, if you are facing FBI, DEA, or ATF on your own, it can be difficult to stand up for your rights. When one of our attorneys is in the room, we will make sure that your rights are protected at all times.
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in Dayton, Ohio
The experienced attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC have been assisting the people of Montgomery County with their criminal defense needs for years. From DUI defense to federal sex crimes defense and everything in between – we can help. Free consultations are available, just give us a call or contact us online.