When you find yourself under scrutiny for criminal behavior, it can be a confusing and intimidating process. When the crime for which you are being investigated or charged is a federal offense, the stakes are higher. The United States Congress has legislated numerous criminal statutes that can be used to bring charges for crimes that were once the exclusive purview of the state courts. Although certain crimes may sound similar, the penalties, the procedures, and even the contours of the criminal offense itself may be strikingly different when charged in federal court.
Further, the federal judicial system is sprawling, having jurisdiction throughout all fifty states, as organized into 12 separate circuits. Although all of the circuits are applying the exact same laws set created by Congress, each region can vary widely in their interpretation of the law. Moreover, the policies and procedures for each circuit are strikingly different. In addition to its innate complexity, federal court usually moves at a blistering pace. Where a state court proceeding can be delayed through creative lawyering or a jammed docket, federal courts will not permit litigants to bog it down in a single case, forcing all the parties engaging the judicial system to keep on their toes.
When Congress created federal jurisdiction over a host of offenses that previously had been left to state law, it tended to impose steeper penalties than defendants would have faced if their prosecution had remained in state court. Some federal laws carry mandatory minimum sentences, foreclosing a judge’s discretion to impose lighter sentences, regardless of the specifics of the case. Consequently, mandatory minimum laws sometimes result in facially unfair results.
In order to minimize your exposure to criminal liability, you will want to be represented by skilled lawyers, who have an understanding and experience with both criminal law and the federal court system. If you are convicted of a federal offense, you could face a long sentence in federal prison, high fines, and/or possibly restitution. Since so much is on the line, having experienced counsel is of paramount importance.
If you or a loved one is being investigated for or has been charged with a federal crime, contact the experienced lawyers at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.