Differences Between State and Federal Cases in Atlanta

When someone is charged with a crime in Atlanta, it is important they know whether they are being charged with a state or federal crime. The punishments vary widely and the system and the way the system handles these two different types of charges can vary quite drastically. For this reason, it is important to call an Atlanta federal criminal attorney who is experienced in handling charges at the federal level, and who is familiar with the various procedural difference between the two. To learn more or discuss where your case will be held, call and schedule a consultation today.

State vs. Federal Investigations

Federal crimes are most often investigated for an extended period of time prior to an arrest and prior to a defendant even knowing that they are under watch by the federal government. In contrast, state crimes more often than not are investigated after the crime has been committed and are in the rebuilding process. This is not to say that most federal agencies and states do not investigate after or before a crime is committed. However, it tends to be more common that the federal investigators build their case from ground up and then bring the charges to the attention of the defendant by contacting him or reaching out to him at home or through the mail.

Contrast Between State and Federal Penalties

As with investigations, penalties for federal crimes and vary a great deal from charges at the state level because they fall under the federal sentencing guidelines.

While these guidelines are not mandatory, they do provide judges with the knowledge of what the congressional committee of sentencing guidelines thinks about particular crimes. These guidelines work using a points system where there are enhancements for repeat offenders, and for different factual elements within the crime itself. Once a judge figures out the reduction or enhancements that apply to the particular facts and circumstances of your case, it is your attorney’s job to argue at the sentencing hearing for reduction or a downward departure when dealing with federal sentencing guidelines.

The attorney will try to convince the judge that a lesser and different punishment is appropriate in the case of the offense that you are pleading to and that you have been convicted of—whether it was after trial or after the plea. The judge would be advised for your situation to depart from a particular sentence that the guidelines recommend—perhaps several years in federal prison, perhaps many years in federal prison.

There are a range of alternative solutions for what the guidelines recommend and having an attorney who is experienced in arguing departures from those guidelines downward in your favor is a crucial element when you are facing a serious crime in a federal court in Atlanta.

Attorney’s Approach to Federal Crimes

An attorney in a federal case will often take a completely different approach when defending a federal case then they would for a state case. For example, at the beginning of a federal case a certain level of proactivity, especially in communicating with the United States Attorney’s Office and the investigators to gather as much information from their perspective, makes a big difference in federal cases.

This is in contrast to most states cases because state crimes often begin with a backward-looking investigation after the crime while federal crimes often begin with a forward-looking investigation for ongoing investigations of more complex matters. So it is imperative to have this proactive contact with opposing counsel and with the opposing investigating agents from the FBI, DEA, or any other federal agencies tasked with investigating a potential crime.