Tuesday, 31 August 2010 08:12

Federal Criminal Defense

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

If you have been arrested and charged with any crime in the United States Federal Courts, it is important that you call our office as soon as possible. We need to begin work on your defense immediately. As a Federal crime defendant, you have many rights; as Federal criminal lawyers, we understand how to protect those rights and understand the Federal laws and sentencing guidelines. If we take your case, we will work aggressively to protect you and your future by providing you the best Federal criminal defense possible.

There is a vast difference between the state and Federal criminal justice systems. Not all attorneys licensed to practice in state courts are licensed to practice in the Federal courts. Please call immediately if you have any questions about whether or not you are facing Federal Charges.

We have the knowledge and expertise to mount an effective defense for you or your loved one. Schedule your no cost consultation and case evaluation with one of our Federal Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers now: Call us at 1-888-442-7947 or email ggreen@gGreen.com.

What determines if a charge is Federal or state?

The short answer is: If your case crosses state lines in any way, you may be looking at Federal charges. Crimes that typically fall under Federal jurisdiction include many white collar crimes, fraud, and drug trafficking cases. In the case of counterfeit bills, making them is a Federal offense, but passing them is usually handled by the state.

Federal Criminal Charges Defended

We have the knowledge and expertise to represent you or your loved one in all of the following:

  • Fraud: Mail Fraud, Tax Fraud, Bank Fraud, Computer Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Mortgage Fraud
  • Racketeering / RICO
  • Embezzlement and Larceny
  • Perjury and Obstruction
  • Bribery and Extortion
  • Money Laundering
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Counterfeiting and Forgery
  • Blackmail
  • Letter of Investigation from a Government Agency, such as the CIA, Secret Service, IRS, etc.

I received a letter from the US Government. What now?

If you receive ANY letter from ANY agency that indicates the government “would like to speak with you” for ANY reason, call us at 1-888-442-7947 before you respond. Any such letter usually indicates an investigation of some kind. And ANY statement from you in their investigation “can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Even if you have done nothing wrong and wish to cooperate, please involve a Federal defense lawyer as soon as possible after receiving such a letter. If you are contacted by phone, you can always say, “Please discuss that with my lawyer,” and NOTHING further. If you have not decided on an attorney yet, tell them, “I am in the process of hiring an attorney, and I will not answer any questions at this time.” Be FIRM.

Why are Federal cases so much more serious?

Two main reasons why Federal cases are so serious (compared to state-level charges) is that, first, they are much more complicated and labor-intensive, and second, Federal cases often involve harsher punishments for similar crimes charged in state court.

By definition, Federal matters cross state lines. With that complication comes a host of issues: multiple state and county law enforcement jurisdiction issues, as well as the Federal prosecutors involvement. There is usually an enormous amount of discovery (evidence) to evaluate and dissect. We will review any and all appropriate documentation in our vigorous defense of you or your loved one. It takes time, but the strength or weakness of any case lies in the minute details.

As for stricter punishments, the reason for the disparity in sentencing between state and Federal charges is that the members of Congress created “Federal Sentencing Guidelines.” These limit the Federal judges’ options when it comes to sentencing. Unfortunately, without allowing much judicial leeway for extenuating circumstances, Federal cases often include prison sentences for offenses that would usually score only probation on a state-level charge. Since the judges have less discretion to offer a lighter sentence, there is much more for you to lose if you are convicted of a Federal offense.

What can I do to reduce my exposure?

First, obviously, hire a competent and knowledgeable Federal criminal defense lawyer. Choosing the right Federal attorney is your best defense, so take time to find a lawyer you feel comfortable with and can trust. Second, be involved in your own defense and keep the lines of communication with your lawyer open. We will always be available for you.

In some cases, it may be important to cooperate. We will advise you on whether this is appropriate for your case.

Finally, sometimes the best way to reduce your risk is to keep quiet. Again, we will advise you on whether or not this is the best course of action in your matter.

What are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

Federal Sentencing Guidelines are the government’s attempt to standardize probation or prison sentences nationwide.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines take into account both the seriousness of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. There are 43 levels of offense: The higher the level, the higher the punishment.

Sentencing guideline adjustments can increase or decrease the offense level. For example, if the defendant had a minimal role in the offense, there could be a decrease of four levels. There is also a reduction for ‘acceptance of responsibility.

The federal sentencing guidelines also classify each defendant into one of six Criminal History Categories. Category one is the least serious criminal record and Criminal History Category six includes defendants who are typically career offenders.

Federal Sentencing Adjustments (or Enhancements) in Federal Court

All federal crimes have a base offense level. The base levels help determine the possible sentencing range for a particular federal crime. There are five adjustments that can be made to increase or decrease someone’s base level which in turn will affect whether someone could get an increase or decrease in punishment.

The five adjustments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are as follows:

  1. “Victim” related adjustments;
  2. Adjustments based on the defendant’s “role” in the offense;
  3. Adjustments for “obstructing the administration of justice”;
  4. Adjustments for “defendant’s acceptance of responsibility”
  5. Adjustments for “multiple count convictions.”

Victim Related Adjustments

The federal base offense level is increased two levels “if the defendant knew or should have known that a victim of the offense was unusually vulnerable” due to age, physical condition, mental condition or if the defendant knew or should have known “that a victim was otherwise particularly susceptible to the criminal conduct.”

If a lot of vulnerable victims were involved, the federal criminal offense level is increased by two additional levels. (This is typically the case in pyramid schemes.)

The federal base offense level is increased three levels if the victim was either a government official or employee or former government officer or employee or a member of the immediate family of a government officer or employee or former government officer or employee.

The base level is increased two levels if the victim was physically restrained in the course of the offense. Thus in a bank robbery where persons are tied up and bound, this increase would apply.

Role in the Federal Criminal Offense

Aggravating Role

The federal base offense level is increased four levels if the defendant was an organizer or leader of a criminal activity that involved five or more participants or otherwise was extensive.

The federal base offense level is increased three levels if the defendant was a manager or supervisor and the criminal activity involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive.

The federal base offense level in increased two levels if the defendant was an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor in any criminal activity that involved participants up to four people.

Mitigating Role

The federal base offense level is decreased four levels if the defendant was a “minimal participant” in the crime.

The federal base offense level is decreased two levels if the defendant was a “minor participant.”

Obstructing the Administration of Justice

This can result in a increase in two levels to the federal base offense level.

Acceptance of Responsibility

A defendant can get a two level reduction if he “clearly demonstrates” acceptance of responsibility for his offense. A three level reduction applies when the person provides timely information concerning his own involvement in the offense and timely notifies the United States Attorneys Office of his intention to enter a plea of guilty to avoid any preparation for federal criminal jury trial so that the court can allocate its resources efficiently.

Federal Criminal History of Defendant

The federal criminal offense level ranges from offense level one to 43. Each particular crime has a base offense level. Once this federal criminal base offense level is determined, the client’s criminal history will affect the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The federal criminal history category is grouped into six categories. The more points assigned to the defendant based on his prior record, the higher the Criminal History Category. The point assessment is based on the following:

  1. Prior sentences greater than one year and one month will be given 3 points.
  2. Prior sentences greater than 60 days but less than one year and one month will be given 2 points.
  3. All other prior sentences are given one point, with a maximum of four points.
  4. For crimes committed while serving a sentence, work release, probation, imprisonment or on escape status, is given 2 points.
  5. If the person committed his current offense less than two years after release from 60-day or greater sentences, is given 2 points.

Federal Classification of Criminal Offenses in Federal Court

Under 18.U.S.C. section 3559, the classification of offenses by punishment exposure is as follows:

  • (A) maximum life or death penalty, a Class A felony;
  • (B) 25 years or more, Class B felony;
  • (C) less than 25 years, but 10 years or more, Class C felony;
  • (D) less than 10 years, but five or more, Class D felony;
  • (E) less than five years, but more than one year, Class E felony;
  • (F) one year or less but more than six months, Class A misdemeanor;
  • (G) six months or less but more than 30 days, Class B misdemeanor;
  • (H) 30 days or less but more than five days, Class C misdemeanor;
  • (I) five days or less, or if no jail stated, as an infraction.

Federal Jury Panel

The defendant has a right to an impartial jury drawn from a cross section of the community. Most Federal District Courts draw jurors from voter registration lists. Every time someone votes, their name ends up as potential juror in a federal case. In addition, some Federal District Court use names from driver licenses issued in their states.

This can sometimes make or break a case. Jurors often have different life experiences. It is quite possible that certain race groups etc. could constitute a substantial number in the community yet be systematically under represented or excluded in the jury pool. This could be grounds for a potential challenge.

Speedy Trial Act

Under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. section 3161, the defendant must be indicted within 30 days from the days he or she was served a federal summons or arrested on federal criminal charges. He or she must be tried within 70 days of the date the federal criminal information or indictment or the date of appearance or the indictment or information. The time runs from the last date. In other words, the general rule is that there is a 70 day federal court arraignment to federal jury trial rule.

The United States Supreme Court has stated that the period of filing of pretrial motions up to the date of the scheduled oral arguments on such motions is excluded from the 70 day period.

Federal Pre-Sentence Report (PSR)

Prior to sentencing, the United States District Court Judge will order a probation report commonly referred to as the “Pre-Sentence Report, (PSR).” Under Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and 18 U.S.C. section 3552, the United States Federal Probation Department is required to prepare a PSR for every defendant provided that there is a record sufficient to do that.

The information contained in the PSR contains:

  1. Information about the history and characteristics of the defendant, his or her prior criminal record, financial conditions, and any thing else that affected the defendants behavior that may be helpful in imposing sentence or in the correctional treatment of the defendant.
  2. The classification of the federal offense and the defendant under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the kinds of sentence and range suggested for the case, and an explanation of any factors that may indicate a departure from the guidelines.
  3. Any relevant policy statement of the Sentencing Commission.
  4. Verified information concerning the financial, social, psychological and medical impact and cost to any victim of the federal offense.
  5. Information concerning the nature and extent of non-prison programs and resources available to the defendant.
  6. Any other information requested by the United States District Court Judge.

Clearly, there is a vast difference between Federal and State courts. We have the expertise and knowledge to build a vigorous, effective Federal defense for you. Schedule your no cost consultation and case evaluation with Federal Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers now: Call us at 1-888-442-7947 or email ggreen@gGreen.com

The Pursuit of Justice. Law Offices of Gary Green is dedicated to the tireless pursuit of justice and providing the accused with the quality representation that they deserve. Criminal law is incredibly complex, and any criminal charge must be addressed immediately and professionally. Any missed opportunity or overlooked defense can have disastrous consequences for the accused. If you have been charged with a criminal act, it is important to secure a criminal defense trial lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us now for a free initial consultation.

Your Future Is at Stake. A conviction can affect your job, your license, your freedom, and your future. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you need a dedicated, intelligent, skillful trial attorney on your side. Persons convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both. At Law Offices of Gary Green, each client receives the highest level of individual attention in order to ensure the best possible results.

How We Will Help You. Law Offices of Gary Green handles all types of criminal charges. As a dedicated, zealous criminal trial lawyers, we will fight to either have your case dismissed, or to have the least amount of punishment assessed against you. We represent clients who are charged with every type of crime – felonies and misdemeanors – drug crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes, computer crimes, and white collar crimes.

Contact Us Now. If you’ve been accused of a crime, do not delay. The sooner you act, the more time we will have to investigate your case and prepare your defense. Call us immediately at 1-888-442-7947.