A crime can be charged in Federal Court when an individual’s activities violate a Federal criminal law, a crime is committed over two State lines, or the crime is committed in International waters of which the United States avails itself of jurisdiction. At face value, most would tell you that if you find yourself at the receiving end of the Federal government’s accusatory finger, you better retain not only a great criminal lawyer but also a great criminal lawyer that is active in the Federal criminal system. The Federal criminal attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm actively practice in Federal Court in the Middle District of Florida and consistently maintain a caseload in that Court. All of our attorneys are active members of the CJA panel for the Middle District, a panel of local attorneys who are consistently appointed Federal criminal cases.What Makes a Federal Case Different?
A rule of thumb is that just about any Federal charge will carry a much harsher penalty than that of its State counterpart. Unlike State court where probation is almost the norm for most crimes, earning a probation plea offer or straight up sentence in Federal court is very rare. Our Federal criminal courts have a much less giving discovery system than our State criminal courts. Whereas in State court an attorney must only file a demand for discovery and receive basically all things relevant to the case including witness reports, that is not the case in the Federal system. Pursuant to the Jencks Act in the Federal criminal system the United States is not obligated to turn over witness statements until after that witness has testified in some fashion and upon request by the Defense. As you can imagine it is more difficult for a Federal criminal defense attorney to prepare in a Federal case than a State case due to the lack of evidence available to them.
The sentencing scheme in Federal Court is put in place by the United States Sentencing Commission. In short each Federal crime is assigned a base offense level between one and forty three. The higher the base offense level, the more serious the crime. Depending on the circumstances of the allegation, certain relevant conduct can act to increase or decrease the base offense level. Criminal history, truthfulness in debriefing with authorities and cooperation can also act to alter the base offense level. Ultimately, once the base offense level has been altered a total offense level will be found somewhere on the scale of one to forty three. This number is then cross referenced with a criminal history category based on criminal history points and a range of incarceration months is established. If the Judge sentences within this range the individual will be sentenced “within the guidelines.” If the judge departs, it will be a sentence outside the heartland of the guideline range. This scheme is complicated and does not stand without criticism by lawyers and Judges alike. It is clear on its face that the Federal system is a punitive system and generally an individual facing a Federal charge will face the fight of their lives to retain their liberty.What Kind of Cases Get Charged Federally?
Anything that violates Federal criminal law can be charged in Federal court. The most common crimes we see are:
- Possession With the Intent to Distribute Drugs
- Arms Trafficking
- Alien Smuggling
- Illegal Reentry
- Child Pornography
- Mail Fraud
- Wire Fraud
- Racketeering (RICO)
- Credit Card Fraud
- Bank Fraud
- Bankruptcy Fraud by Concealment of Property
Federal criminal defense lawyer Jason Mayberry consistently handles Federal cases in the Tampa Bay area. We believe the Federal criminal system is not something an attorney can simply moonlight in once every now and then and demands that attorneys practicing within maintain a current understanding of the state of sentencing and discovery law. Federal law is ever changing and our Federal lawyers study religiously these changes. We are unafraid of challenging the United States government and forcing them to put on their proof in order to earn whatever it is they are seeking. Our policy of doing this has resulted in many clients being able to shave months and sometimes many years off of their sentences. If you’ve been charged with a Federal crime or received a Federal target letter, you must seek the counsel of an experienced Federal criminal attorney as soon as possible. Contact us at 813-444-7435.