When a federal crime has been committed, the rules of criminal prosecution are completely changed. Even if you are only under investigation for a federal crime, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Although it may be tempting to try and talk your way out of the charges, you may end up doing more damage to your case than you realize. If you were not directly involved in the crime, you could still be facing conspiracy charges or other federal charges if there is evidence that connects or associates you with the accused.
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Federal Crimes vs. State Crimes
The main difference between federal and state crimes is that federal crimes are prosecuted under federal laws, whereas state crimes fall under the jurisdiction of whatever state in which they allegedly occurred. In other words, a crime that is illegal in Florida but not in California, such as possession of recreational marijuana, is typically a state crime (with some exceptions); a federal crime is illegal in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and, in certain cases, U.S. territories, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Another key difference between federal crimes and state crimes is that federal crimes are prosecuted in federal court, not state court (or “circuit courts” in Florida). For this reason, it is extremely important that you hire an attorney with experience in federal courts if you are under investigation or have been charged with a federal offense. You want someone on your side who understands the federal court system and who has experience representing clients in these courts.
At Ali & Blankner, our Orlando federal criminal defense lawyers have more than 85 years of combined experience. Our firm has handled well over 100,000 cases and has obtained countless case dismissals on behalf of those charged with serious crimes. We encourage you to reach out to our team right away to learn how we can immediately begin protecting your rights and advocating for your future.
Examples of Federal Crimes
Generally speaking, the federal government can pass laws to protect the national interest. As a result, there are fewer types of federal crimes than state crimes.
The federal government may prosecute any crime that:
- Concerns a matter of national security or interest
- Occurs on federal land
- Involves a federal officer or employee
- Crosses state lines (or where the defendant crosses state lines)
- Has to do with U.S. immigration laws
- Involves deception, fraud, or misrepresentation of the federal government or a federal agency
Some specific examples of federal crimes include:
- Mail fraud
- Wire fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion
- Drug importation
- Drug trafficking across state lines
- Human trafficking
- Money laundering
- Child pornography
- Immigration fraud
- Assault of a federal officer
- Robbery of a federal bank or institution
- Copyright violations
- Health care fraud
This is by no means an exhaustive list; many other crimes can be prosecuted by the federal government. Additionally, certain crimes that would otherwise fall under the jurisdiction of the state may be prosecuted by the federal government in specific circumstances. For example, murder, which is typically a state crime, may be a federal offense if it occurred on federal land, such as an Indian reservation, or if it involved the death of a federal officer or employee.
The penalties for federal crimes depend on the type of crime allegedly committed, as well as its classification. Many federal crimes are classified as felonies (as opposed to misdemeanors), meaning they come with harsh criminal penalties. Additionally, most federal judges follow specific sentencing guidelines when it comes to sentencing those who have been convicted of federal crimes. In general, the penalties for federal crimes are harsher than those for similar state crimes.
Possible felony penalties may include the following:
- Third-Degree Felony: Up to $10,000 in fines, a maximum of 5 years in prison, and up to 5 years of probation
- Second-Degree Felony: Up to $10,000 in fines, a maximum of 15 years in prison, and up to 15 years of probation
- First-Degree Felony: Up to $10,000 in fines, a maximum of 30 years in prison, and up to 30 years of probation
- Life Felony: A maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole and up to $15,000 in fines
- Capital Felony: A maximum penalty of a death sentence (capital punishment) or life in prison without the possibility of parole
The United States government prosecutes federal offenses very aggressively and will often seek the maximum allowable penalties. In general, federal crimes carry very stiff penalties, including lengthy prison terms without the possibility of parole.
In other words, if you are facing federal criminal charges, your freedom, your future, and your ability to care and provide for your family are all at risk. You need a knowledgeable attorney who will be able to review your case, analyze all evidence against you, search and uncover any weaknesses or flaws in the prosecution's case, and build you an aggressive defense.
Can you be charged with both federal and state crimes for the same offense?
Yes. There are some situations where you may be charged at both the federal and state level if you have violated both federal and state laws with your behavior. These cases can be complex because if you are acquitted at the federal level, you may still be tried at the state level (and vice versa). However, if you are convicted at the federal level you may not be convicted of the same offense at the state level due to double jeopardy protections offered by the Fifth Amendment. This is why it's extremely important to have an experienced federal defense lawyer on your side if you are facing charges at the state level, federal level, or both.
What are my rights in a federal criminal case?
When being charged with a federal crime you have the same constitutional rights that you are allowed in a state criminal case:
- The right to representation by an attorney (whether hired by you or appointed by the court)
- The right to a fair and speedy trial
- The right to remain silent (also known as your “Miranda rights”)
- The right to face your accuser and confront witnesses
- The right to present a defense
- The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
- The right to not be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement
- The right to appeal your conviction or sentencing to a higher court
When you hire a professional federal defense attorney from Ali & Blankner to represent you, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected no matter what.
Time is of the essence when it comes to federal crimes, as any delay may end up hindering or jeopardizing our ability to enter plea negotiations, file motions to suppress, or work to have charges brought in state court, rather than federal court. At Ali & Blankner, our Orlando federal crimes attorneys can advise you on the best course of action to pursue, as well as work hard to protect you, your rights, and your best interests.
Our firm is committed to defending those accused of all types of serious federal crimes. Our success record, along with our consistent demonstration of excellence when it comes to our legal abilities and general ethical standards, has earned us an AV® Rating and a listing in the Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Together, our attorneys have over 85 years of combined experience practicing criminal law in both state and federal cases. When you want an attorney who will exhaust all resources on your behalf, you want an attorney from Ali & Blankner.
If you are facing serious federal charges, we encourage you to contact our Orlando federal criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible so that we can answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights. At Ali & Blankner, we understand how frightening it is to be investigated or arrested for a federal crime. It is extremely important, however, to contact an attorney from our firm before you answer any questions or speak with federal agents. You have the right to remain silent, and you should enact this right. Anything you say can and will almost certainly be used against you in the state’s case.
Large Firm Results, Small Firm Attention
Our criminal defense team in Orlando understands the ins and out of the legal industry, and we have the infrastructure and resources to handle any case that comes our way. We focus on your case specifically to ensure we get the best result for you.
Fighters & Advocates in the Courtroom
The criminal lawyers in Orlando at Ali & Blankner are aggressive advocates who are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain a favorable resolution. We are committed to defending your rights and protecting your future.
Prosecutor Insight & Knowledge
All of our Orlando criminal attorneys are former prosecutors and understand how the other side thinks. When you work with our team, you get a group of individuals who knows how to prepare and fight a winning case.
Dedicated & Experienced Counsel
With over 35 years of experience and thousands of clients helped, Ali & Blankner has the skills, resources, and determination to get you the best possible result.