Federal and state criminal cases can vary widely in terms of investigations, potential penalties, and the prosecution’s approach. If you have been accused of violating federal law, it is important to familiarize yourself with the key differences between federal and state crimes in DeKalb County. A skilled attorney could take on your case and help you understand how these situations proceed in federal court.
Federal crimes are violations of laws that are codified by Congress and enforced by the President. Many state crimes can become federal crimes if the qualifying circumstances are met. However, there are certain crimes that are charged far more often at the federal level than at the state level. These crimes generally begin with an investigation by federal agencies such as the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. Each of these federal agencies in the executive branch has certain authority granted to it by the president to investigate violations of federal law. The agencies investigating federal crimes perform more thorough investigations into an alleged crime than their equivalent state – in the equivalent state agency investigating a state-level crime.
Common federal crimes include federal drug crimes that are weapons crimes, generally dealing in large quantities of drugs that are allegedly shipped across interstate lines. One of the dominating themes of federal criminal conduct is an involvement of interstate commerce or exchange of goods that Congress has the constitutional power to regulate. Another major category of common financial crime is federal wire fraud, which typically involves are banking transactions or the movement of money across state lines.
Federal criminal cases function differently than state ones in that they generally begin with a thorough investigation by a federal agency. Often, the investigation is completed before the defendant realizes that the police or other investigating agencies are involved. At the conclusion of the investigation, the lead agent will often approach the defendant at their home or place of business and ask to speak with them. It is crucial for a defendant to refuse to speak with federal agent until they have obtained legal counsel.
Once the defendant has been notified that they are being investigated and they have spoken with an attorney, their attorney will reach out to the United States Attorney’s Office or the lead investigator to set up a time to discuss the case. Participating in the investigation process with an experienced federal attorney in the area is one of the most important steps anyone faced with a federal criminal investigation or charged with federal crime can take to improve their situation.
Each state has its own set of penalties that their own legislature has sought fit to impose for various forms of criminal conduct. Similarly, federal crimes are assigned a range of punishments by the United States Congress enacted into law by the President.
Every single federal crime whether misdemeanor, felony, or ordinance or regulation has an assigned penalty. A certain offense could incur merely a slap on the wrist in under state law but may carry significant time in prison if pursued by the United States Attorney in federal courts.
In federal court, the determination of guilt will trigger an investigation by the United States Probation Office. This agency will look into an individual’s background history, education, career, prior criminal conduct, family friends, and others involved in their life to try to compose a complete picture of the individual for the prosecution, defense, and United States district court judge so that they can issue a relevant sentence. Having a nearby attorney experienced in reviewing these reports and supplementing them with additional information could afford a defendant the best opportunity to minimize the impact of their sentence.
Judges are required to recommend their sentences after looking at the United States sentencing guidelines. These guidelines outline various factors that raise or lower the total point value assigned to the crime, based on the defendant’s conduct and their other actions around a case. Each progressively higher point value places them into a higher category of sentencing. After evaluating this total point value, judges can recommend a punishment.
The unique aspects of federal cases and litigation procedures means that someone accused of a federal crime should enlist an attorney who is knowledgeable about the nuances of this area of law. If you are facing federal charges in DeKalb County, you should consult a legal professional who can explain the differences between state and federal offenses. Call today to learn more.