The United States criminal justice system in divided into state criminal law and federal criminal law. Each state has its own laws, and all residents must comply by the state law as well as the federal law. Facing federal crime charges in California is very serious and often leads to imprisonment. If you are charged with a federal crime your freedom is at stake and you should speak with an experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney right away. Call the Law Offices of William Kroger for a free consultation at 323-655-5700.What are Federal Crimes?
Federal crimes are unlawful acts that break the United States federal laws. These crimes are investigated by federal agencies and prosecuted by United States attorneys in federal courts with federal judges. Federal agencies include: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Secret Service. If any of these agencies are involved, you are dealing with a federal crime.
Federal jurisdiction also applies in any criminal offense on federal land, any criminal offense involving more than one state and any criminal offense involving immigration. Certain crimes can be prosecuted by either state or federal court, depending on the circumstances. For example drug crimes can becomes a federal matter if the quantity is large enough or if an organized crime group such as a cartel is involved.The Most Common Federal Crimes
As reported by the United States Sentencing Commission in their Overview of Federal Criminal Cases for the year of 2016, for more than ten years now drugs, fraud, immigration, and firearms have made up the majority of federal felonies, accounting for 81.6 percent of all cases, with drug crimes taking the top spot at 31.6 percent. Immigration cases come in at a close second, with 29.6 percent, and they’re followed by firearms cases at 10.8 percent, and fraud cases at 9.6 percent.
The majority of the drug cases involve the manufacture, sale, or transportation of a drug. Methamphetamine offenses continue to be the most common drug cases, representing 30.8 percent of all drug crimes. The number of methamphetamine cases has increased substantially since 1994, when those cases accounted for only 6.4 percent of all drug cases. Methamphetamine is the most common drug in federal drug cases, followed by cocaine and marijuana. In 2016 methamphetamine offenses were the most severely punished drug crime, with an average length of imprisonment of 90 months.Federal Crime Defenses
Kroger Law Group is very familiar with fighting on behalf of defendants accused of federal crimes. We handle all type of cases. For example in drug cases we’ve handled everything from simple possession to large scale drug trafficking organizations. In 2009 Kroger Law Group undertook the case of a man charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana across state lines. The charges carried a potential of 16 years in federal prison. The client would have served 87% percent of the time and then been deported. Today, that client is a successful business owner enjoying his freedom.
In another case a client was arrested for possession with the intent to sell 1,975 pounds of marijuana. The case was dismissed when Mr. Kroger successfully argued that the search was illegal and the court agreed with him.
The criminal attorneys at Kroger Law Group have a variety of defense approaches. For example, if our client is accused of selling an illegal substance, we may look at the date that the substance became illegal. If they sold it at a time when it was still considered legal, we can get those charges dropped altogether. In big federal drug cases we may look closely at wiretaps, confidential informants, and other data federal agents may have gathered in order to prove that the initial allegation was unsupported.What is the Difference Between a Federal Crime and a State Crime?
Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t make a federal case out of it”? There’s a reason it’s not “Don’t make a state case out of it” and that’s because there’s a huge degree of difference in the level of scrutiny that comes with a federal case. Federal court is paper driven and has a very high success rate of convictions compared to the state court.
State crimes tend to be common violations such as theft, burglary, and assault. Federal crimes usually involve the breaking of tax laws, drug laws or committing fraud. When you’re charged with a federal crime your prosecution will take place in a federal district court. Typically a US Attorney will work along the side of the federal agents and review the case as it is ongoing. Often times federal investigators are trained by the federal government which expends a lot more money and time on training their agents. In addition, a lot of the federal law enforcement agents are lawyers.
You can also be prosecuted in both state and federal court for the same crime. It’s a very rare occurrence, but there is no law prohibiting a dual prosecution. The Double Jeopardy Clause is not applicable due to state and federal government being treated as separate sovereigns. Recently the Supreme Court upheld this law after it was challenged by Terance Gamble—a man who had previously been convicted of a felony, and was now charged with possession of a firearm by both the state and federal courts. Gamble was sentenced to a one-year sentence by the state and 46-months by the federal court.
The determination on whether a case will be state or federal depends on different factors. For example in drug crimes, the factors which determine the nature of the case are the arresting agency, the quantity of drugs and who is investigating the case.The Rise of the Federal Justice System and the Case of Al Capone
The federal justice system and the difference in federal crimes versus state crimes really became highlighted in the 1930s with the capture of notorious crime boss Al Capone. You would think that with a blood trail miles long the police would have had no issues putting the mob boss in prison. Yet Capone went on terrorizing Chicago for years with local police unable to do anything about it. It was a federal court issuing a contempt citation that ended up getting the FBI involved and bringing the ruthless mobster down. In the end he was convicted on federal income-tax evasion charges. That goes to show two things: first that Al Capone was savvy in his criminal activities, and second that federal resources to create an investigation are far greater than state resources.Federal Crimes Law Enforcement and Prosecution
Dealing with a federal investigation is much different than a local one. Federal investigators work in teams and build cases over a long period of time. They have wider access to electronic surveillance and use task forces and meet with federal prosecutors to fine tune their case. Local law enforcement usually arrives on the scene of a crime when it occurs and makes an arrest. Their evidence consists of what is on hand at that time. If you’re facing a federal charge in Los Angeles, you need a criminal attorney who can provide you with the best defense against this serious charge.Punishment for Federal Crimes in California
In 2016, 87.5 percent of federal offenders convicted of a felony were given a federal prison sentence. Most federal convictions end with a prison sentence, but some are given probation. The length of the imprisonment depends on the gravity of the offense as well as the criminal history of the offender.Contact an Experienced Federal Attorney in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of William Kroger have handled all types of federal crime cases. It is that type of experience that is required when you are looking for a federal defense attorney to represent you in federal court. State court experience is of very little help to an attorney in the federal system. You need a federal defense lawyer who understands how federal crime cases work and how federal prosecutors build their cases. If you have been charged with a federal crime and are looking for a criminal attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of William Kroger for a free consultation at 323-655-5700.