While most crimes are violations of state laws and handled by state criminal courts, there are certain offenses that violate federal laws and are pursued by federal law enforcement agencies (e.g., FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS, etc.) and federal prosecutors. A conviction in a federal court carries more serious criminal penalties than getting convicted in a state court, often resulting in lengthy federal prison sentences, including harsher mandatory minimum terms, and fines worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
If you are under investigation by federal authorities or facing federal charges in Chattanooga, TN, do not hesitate to let Best and Brock protect your rights, reputation, and freedom throughout the legal process. Our legal team can thoroughly review your case, figure out all your legal options, and develop an aggressive and personalized defense strategy to help you obtain the most favorable result in court.
What is the Difference Between Federal & State Crimes?
The United States criminal justice system is divided into two distinct areas: federal criminal law and state criminal law. Tennessee and every state have their own set of laws, while the federal government has its own set of laws that state residents must also obey. However, there are several criminal offenses classified under both state and federal law, which means a person can be subjected to both courts for a single crime.
The following crimes the federal government has jurisdiction over include:
Crimes that occur on federal land (e.g., a federal financial institution, a government building, a military base, a national forest, or a Native American reservation).
- Crimes where the defendant crosses state lines
- Crimes where criminal conduct occurs in more than one state
- Crimes involving fraud, deception, or misrepresentation on a federal agency or the federal government itself
- Violations of immigration and customs law
Common Federal Crimes
The United States Criminal Code defines hundreds of criminal offenses that violate federal law and are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney, rather than a district attorney who prosecutes state crimes. U.S. attorneys are appointed by the U.S. Attorney General.
The following are some common federal crimes our firm handles:
- Conspiracy – Did you know that you can face federal charges for planning a crime and attempting to carry it out? Conspiracy occurs when two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and then take some action toward the completion of that offense. If a person knew about a plan and intended to break the law, that is enough to be charged with conspiracy.
- Crimes against the government – Crimes committed against the federal government warrant federal charges. Common offenses include terrorism and terrorist threats, espionage, sedition, rioting or inciting riots, flag burning, and treason.
- Drug crimes – Federal investigators generally target top-level and organized drug trafficking and drug manufacturing operations run by cartels and gangs.
- Firearm offenses – There is a wide range of federal gun charges a person can face. Common federal weapons offenses include illegal possession of a firearm, possession or using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime or other violent crime, the sale of illegal firearms, the sale of firearms without a license, and making a false statement when purchasing a gun.
- Sex crimes – More severe or aggravated sex crimes are prosecuted by federal courts. Common types of federal sex crimes include possession or distribution of child pornography, child sexual assault and rape, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor or ward, purchase or sale of a child for sexual purposes, exploitation of a child in a sexual manner, sexual abuse resulting in death, human trafficking and sex crimes that occur on federal land or territory.
- Violent crimes – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates violent crimes in major cities and local communities throughout the country, as well as specific violent crimes committed against Americans and American interests overseas. Common violent offenses include first-degree murder, serial murders, murder committed on federal property, murder by a federal prisoner, murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting, armed robbery, aggravated assault/battery, interstate domestic violence, hostage-taking, kidnapping, use of fire or explosives to destroy property, violence at international airports, violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, and hate crimes.
- White collar crimes – Federal fraud is defined as intentionally or knowingly falsifying, concealing, or otherwise misrepresenting a document or material fact to obtain money, property, or services. Common types of fraud offenses include bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, citizenship fraud, computer fraud, health care fraud, identity theft fraud, mail and wire fraud, mass marketing fraud, mortgage/loan modification fraud, securities fraud, and tax fraud. Other types of federal white collar crimes include racketeering (RICO), bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, computer crimes, and corporate crimes.
Federal Sentencing & Punishment
Federal sentencing guidelines are established by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which is part of the judicial branch of the federal government. The commission also advises other branches of government on criminal policy matters, as we as gathers and examines crime and sentencing data.
As we have mentioned earlier, federal criminal charges generally carry much harsher penalties compared to state criminal charges. The maximum punishment for federal offenses is much higher than the punishment for state crimes.
Federal prosecutors have less discretion in negotiating plea deals and federal judges have less discretion in sentencing guidelines. Federal crimes also carry additional enhancements for aggravating factors (e.g., criminal history, hate crime or terrorism, offenses against vulnerable, crimes against government officials, use of firearm or dangerous weapons, offenses involving minors, as well as facts and circumstances of the case) found in most crimes.
Getting convicted of a federal offense is punishable by a federal prison sentence, instead of a state prison sentence. A conviction of a federal offense involving drugs, firearms, sex crimes, and economic offenses carry mandatory minimum terms.
Remember, a federal conviction requires a defendant to serve 85 percent of his/her prison sentence. In comparison to state crimes, most felony convictions require individuals to serve 50 percent of their actual sentence.
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Due to the seriousness of federal offenses and their penalties, it is important to hire an experienced federal criminal attorney to fight for you inside and outside the courtroom. Our firm can provide knowledgeable guidance in the early stages of proceedings, negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney, and even defend you at trial, if necessary. Do not wait to take proactive measures to increase your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.
Federal drug charge lawyers are experienced in handling even the most complex federal drug cases. They are able to review information about the case and work to obtain the best possible results. In some instances, federal drug charge lawyers may be able to obtain a plea deal that will allow you to plead guilty to lesser charges, leading to reduced penalties.
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