While any criminal offense is serious and can have a lasting impact on your life, federal charges are particularly severe. State (and city and municipal courts in some instances) courts have jurisdiction over most crimes that occur within the state. Jurisdiction means the right of a court to exercise power and control over a person and criminal issue.
On the other hand, federal courts have jurisdiction over crimes that are enumerated by the United States Constitution, crimes that involve actions in more than one state, immigration issues, and some other crimes specifically given jurisdiction to the federal courts by statute. Whether you are charged with a state or federal crime will determine in what court your case is heard and what the possible punishments may be.
Some of the most common federal crimes that Floridians may be charged with include:
– Drug crimes;
– Immigration offenses;
– Tax evasion; and
– Possession of unlawful weapons.
Seemingly less severe offenses such as “mail fraud” may lead to extremely severe consequences. Mail fraud is a very broad crime that technically means to use the “mail or wire communication” to make false representations to gain a benefit; however, this definition has been expanded to include internet communication, opening up an entire new area of law that has led to thousands of new apprehensions. Similar federal crimes, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, have been utilized more frequently in recent years as well.
Federal prosecutors often have more evidence to use against a criminal defendant because of the vast resources available to the United States Attorney’s Office in comparison to state offices. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can utilize the FBI, IRS, and other federal organizations in investigating and building their case against a criminal defendant. Some investigations that ultimately lead to federal charges may have been ongoing for years. Often, when the federal government cannot gather enough evidence to bring one cause of action against a defendant, chances are, during their investigation, they found something else they can ultimately charge the individual with.
Another reason federal offenses are so severe is because of the punishments. The federal sentencing guidelines determine minimum and maximum punishments a criminal defendant can be subjected to based on the both the severity of the crime(s) at issue and the defendant’s criminal history. These sentences will also be served out at federal prisons, where the rules, policies, and accommodations are often very different than state-run penitentiaries.
Facing Federal Charges?
If you or anyone you know in the greater Orlando area is facing federal criminal charges, you need experienced federal crimes defense lawyers on your side to help you navigate a very complex system.
At Moses & Rooth, our former prosecution attorneys know how both sides of criminal litigation work and the best way to craft a defense to ensure the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Federal cases are built up over time and can move through the courts more quickly than state-level cases; thus, if you have been charged with a federal offense, it is critical to contact an attorney at our Orlando office as soon as possible.