I've been doing federal cases now for about 25 years and there are not that many categories of federal cases. The federal government usually gets involved when it's a serious situation and requires more than just minimal investigation. They use the power of the federal government to investigate. The federal government has the best technology.
I am handling cases involving big drug transactions, possession for sales, trafficking, all sorts of drug offenses and the Feds definitely get involved in that. Also, with serious sex crimes the federal government will become involved and bank robberies because the banks are federally insured.
Just about anything that affects interstate commerce will be dealt with by the federal government if it's being done on a large scale and they're better suited to deal with it.
Do You Take Cases From Outside Of California?
Yes, I take cases in all of the 50 states. The federal sentencing guidelines are a nationwide thing, so basically that means that every single court in the United States at the federal level uses the federal sentencing guidelines.
I'm admitted before the United States Supreme Court and I can practice in any court in the nation. Some courts have different requirements where I can come in Pro Hoc Vice and I need to get a local counsel with me. The local counsel and I together will work on the case but yes, I can definitely go anywhere and I've been to almost every state in the nation over the course of the past 25 years.
Differences Between Federal And State Criminal Charges
A lot of the federal state crimes can be charged either at the federal or state level. Usually where I see the dividing line is the seriousness and the complexity of the offense.
For example, a lot of the big drug cases that are involving RICO violations, alleged gangs members being involved, organized crime, those are being dealt with by the federal government because of the scope of what's going on.
They have to do long surveillances and wiretaps are involved, so the Feds are better suited for this to have more manpower, more money and so they are prosecuting these type of crimes. Obviously, things like bank robberies because the banks are federally insured, the Feds will usually get involved. Feds basically have power on everything where if a case comes in, if it meets their policy and it comes across their desk, then they're going to deal with it.
I have seen cases where I've got somebody being prosecuted federally and I have a different person being prosecuted at the state level and the person at the state level is getting a much better deal than the person at the federal level.
There really isn't any rhyme or reason why one is state and one is federal. This is no hard and fast rule but the bottom line is that the Feds are usually getting involved to prosecute a federal crime when it's a serious impact on interstate commerce and it has the complexity level that they feel that they're better suited in the state to deal with it.
How Do I Know If My Case Will Be Filed In Federal Or State Court?
A lot of times you don't know if your case will be filed in federal or state court until they actually file the case. Then you're obviously either arrested or you're alerted through your attorney that you are going to be indicted and you need to appear in federal or state court.
A lot of times I see cases filed at the state level and ultimately the state ends up dismissing the case and the Feds pick the case up. This is something that's not really something that you can gauge. Your best bet is to be speaking to your attorney about it because your attorney is going to be able to speak to the prosecutors and be able to better gauge whether your case is likely to be filed federally or at the state level.
What Should I Do If I Am Being Investigated For A Federal Crime?
Your first move if you are being investigated for a federal crime should be to contact an attorney. Set up a face-to-face meeting with them and go in there and give them all the information related to your case. Don't leave anything out and don't put any spin on it. Really let them know what you know about the case even from the prosecutor or a law enforcement's standpoint.
Anything you say to that attorney, even if you don't hire that attorney, will be protected by the attorney-client privilege. If you give them all the information and they're familiar with handling federal criminal defense cases then obviously they're going to be able to best advise you.
They'll be able to reach out to either the investigating agency or the prosecutors, if the prosecutors are involved at that point, and they should be able to get a pretty good feel for what's going on without jeopardizing your right to remain silent; now, that's the key.
Don't go and start talking to the Feds when you're being investigated for a federal crime. I very rarely see that ever helping the person. Invariably it hurts them when they go and talk to the federal agents.
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