Federal Crimes

Competent Attorneys for Those Charged with Federal Offenses in Michigan

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 crime, 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.

Federal Jurisdiction

The federal judicial system is sprawling, having jurisdiction throughout all fifty states, as organized into 12 separate circuits. Michigan is a part of the Sixth Circuit. 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.

Grand Juries

In federal cases alleging felony criminal offenses, such as many gun crimes, a grand jury is convened to consider evidence and determine whether there is probable cause to indict the defendant. Grand juries are composed of citizens who review the evidence presented by prosecutors. If the grand jury issues an indictment, formal charges are filed against the defendant.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

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, especially for drug crimes, carry mandatory minimum sentences, foreclosing a judge’s discretion to impose lighter sentences, regardless of the specifics of the case. Anyone charged with federal crimes should be concerned about mandatory minimums, and seek the advice of a qualified attorney to determine if they may be an issue.

Mandatory minimum sentences do not account for the nuances of a case. They often set fixed, lengthy prison terms for specific offenses, regardless of factors like a defendant’s prior criminal history, their role in the offense, or any mitigating circumstances. This lack of flexibility can result in unjust or overly harsh punishments. Furthermore, lengthy mandatory minimum sentences can reduce opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Instead of focusing on rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of criminal behavior, defendants may serve lengthy prison terms without access to educational or vocational programs.

Federal Prison

If a defendant is convicted of a federal crime and sent to prison, they will usually serve out that sentence at a federal prison. Confinement in a federal prison can be more difficult than a state institution for several reasons. Federal prisoners are not eligible for parole, as the federal parole system was abolished in the 1980s. In contrast, some state prisoners may be eligible for parole, which can provide them with an opportunity for early release. Federal prisoners are often incarcerated far from their homes and families due to the limited number of federal facilities. Michigan has no maximum-security federal prisons. This can make it difficult for family members to visit or maintain contact with inmates. Federal facilities also may be more likely to house inmates convicted of violent or serious crimes, leading to potentially harsher conditions within the prison. This can include a higher level of security and potentially more dangerous inmate populations.

Considering the structure and penalties associated with federal crimes, investigations and charges for federal crimes must be taken seriously. 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, even a white collar crime, you could face a long sentence in federal prison, high fines, and/or possibly restitution. Since so much is on the line, having experienced criminal defense lawyers in Traverse City is of paramount importance.

If you or a loved one is being investigated for or has been charged with a federal crime in Michigan, contact the experienced attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.

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