Being led away from your family in handcuffs or paraded in front of your co-workers, flanked by members of law enforcement would be jarring for anyone. No one is prepared when officers arrive at your door, and when federal charges are thrown into the mix, a whole new layer of complexity is added to your dilemma. It will take a rare breed of attorney to handle the matter and fight for your freedom.
The federal justice system and the prospect of taking a case to trial is terrifying. Federal crimes often lead to grave punishments, making it essential for you to work with an experienced lawyer with a history of success in the federal system. At Silver Law Firm, Oakland federal criminal defense attorney Elliot Silver knows what it takes to put you in the best possible position, and he stands ready to take your case and fight for your rights.
Call Silver Law Firm today at (510) 995-0000, or submit a request online to schedule a free, initial consultation and learn more about how we can help.
Elliot is the kind of lawyer who is in the field to truly help and change lives. I had hit rock bottom after making a huge mistake, and Elliot fought for my justice and freedom like a spartan! I have so much respect for his work ethic. You can’t buy genuine care, you can only be so lucky to cross paths with it.”
The Difference Between Local, State, and Federal Crimes
Whether you are charged with a local, state, or federal crime will depend on the alleged offense and the law enforcement agency that investigated and arrested you. In many situations, a crime may be an offense at more than one level, such as when a violation is both a state and federal crime.
Local crimes often involve traffic offenses or other minor-level crimes that result in little or no time in jail. Both state and federal governments have the authority to prosecute individuals for criminal offenses, each with their own unique and sovereign court system. Most criminal cases are charged in the state system. If you are accused of violating any federal statutes, this falls within federal jurisdiction and you will be prosecuted in federal court.
When You Can be Charged with a Federal Offense
Not every crime can lead to federal charges. Certain circumstances must exist for your alleged actions to amount to a federal offense. You can be charged with a federal offense when the criminal conduct:
- Was committed on federal property.
This includes any national park, federal courthouse, federal prison, the District of Columbia, international waters, or a Native American reservation.
- Is exclusively under federal jurisdiction.
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction when federal money, federal property, or federal regulations are involved. For example, if the allegations involve federal taxes or U.S. mail.
- Crossed state lines.
An offense that takes place in more than one state or affects interstate commerce in any way can be charged at the federal level. Computer and internet crimes often take place in more than one state.
- Was investigated by federal authorities.
Conduct investigated by a federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) or Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is usually charged as a federal crime.
Common Federal Offenses
When you consider the incredible resources of the government in prosecuting cases, it is imperative to retain a distinguished defense attorney to maximize your chances of success in a complex system. Federal crimes almost always result in harsher penalties than their state counterparts and make you susceptible to federal prison terms and substantial fines of up to $250,000.
At Silver Law Firm, we have the skill and reputation to defend you against all types of federal offenses including:
- Identity Theft
- Property Offenses
- Drug Offenses
- Sex Crimes
- Child Pornography
Have you been charged with a crime? Contact Silver Law Firm today.
The Federal Court Process
The federal court process is similar to, but not the same as, the California criminal court process. Once you have been investigated for a federal crime, there are two possible next steps. If the crime is a misdemeanor, you can be arrested and charged. However, if the offense is a felony, prosecutors are required to obtain a grand jury indictment.
A grand jury is made up of 16 to 23 citizens and is a closed proceeding. All of the evidence presented and witness statements made before the grand jury are sealed. The grand jury hears the evidence and then determines whether there is enough information to charge you with the crime. If at least 12 jurors agree there is enough evidence, you will be indicted.
After you are charged, you will have to attend an arraignment. During an arraignment, you will appear before a magistrate and be advised of the specific charges against you. The magistrate will determine whether you will be released from custody pending trial.
Silver Law Firm also provides an array of pretrial services, including evaluation of evidence, independent investigations, and plea bargaining. Your attorney and the government prosecutors will engage in the discovery process to exchange information and the evidence in the case. During this time, negotiations are held regarding a plea agreement.
You may also have to attend a preliminary hearing, which is like a small trial. This is not always required, and you can waive having a preliminary hearing. This hearing does not take place if you are indicted by the grand jury. If a preliminary hearing takes place, it must be within 14 days of your initial appearance if you are incarcerated, or within 21 days of your initial appearance if you were released. During a preliminary hearing, each side lays out its evidence and arguments. If a judge decides there is not enough probable cause to believe you committed the crime, then they can dismiss the charges.
Prior to trial, your attorney will evaluate the case and prepare pre-trial motions, which may include a motion to suppress evidence and a motion to dismiss your case.
Potential Federal Penalties
If you are convicted of a federal crime, you face harsh punishments. Federal sentencing guidelines are different from California punishments. After you are convicted, you will return to court for sentencing. The judge will examine the minimum and maximum potential punishments determined by Congress; the recommended punishment of the U.S. Sentencing Commission; the specific facts of the case including your criminal history; any statements made by you, your attorneys, or the victims of the crime; and any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Weighing these factors, the judge will impose your sentence.
In general, federal punishments include:
- Infraction – Up to five days of incarceration
- Class C misdemeanor – Between five and 30 days of incarceration
- Class B misdemeanor – Between 30 days and six months of incarceration
- Class A misdemeanor – Between six months and one year incarceration
- Class E felony – Up to three years in prison
- Class D felony – Up to six years in prison
- Class C felony – Up to 12 years in prison
- Class B felony – Up to 25 years in prison
- Class A felony – Up to life in prison
Contact a Federal Defense Lawyer for Help
If you are being investigated for or have been charged with a federal offense, contact attorney Elliot Silver right away. Attorney Silver considers it a calling to speak up for those confronted by a looming federal system.
You’ll need someone who will stand up to federal prosecutors and federal agencies. At Silver Law Firm, we know how to fight the government. Our priority is always you and your best interests. We will review your arrest and determine if there is a basis for challenging the charges. We will fight for your freedom at every step of the federal court process, from the grand jury to an indictment, or all the way to a verdict.
Attorney Silver is ready to help you face your darkest day in federal court. Contact Silver Law Firm online, or call (510) 995-0000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.