Find a Criminal Defense Attorney for Federal Crimes

Updated: Apr 22

Find a California Criminal Defense Attorney for Federal Offenses

The criminal justice system in the United States is divided into two levels: state and federal. The majority of people are familiar with how state felony prosecutions are treated by city or county governments. One can only hope that they will never face federal charges. The federal court system, with its formality and rigid (and sometimes harsh) sentencing rules, can be a very daunting place to be, from your first encounter with federal law enforcement officers (i.e., FBI, DEA, ICE, etc.) to your presence in front of a federal judge.

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Federal Crimes vs. State Crimes

The criminal justice system in the United States is split into two parts: state criminal law and federal criminal law. - state, including California, has its own set of rules, as does the federal government, which must be followed by all citizens of the state. The laws of both the state and the federal government apply to all. In fact, some offenses are categorized under both the California Penal Code and the United States Code, which means that a single criminal offense can be prosecuted in both courts. A Criminal Defense Attorney will be vital in this case.

What Exactly are Federal Offenses?

You would almost certainly be investigated by a federal agent, such as an FBI or DEA agent, and charged by federal prosecutors, known as "United States Attorneys," for most federal crimes. Furthermore, the case will be heard in a federal district court, which ensures that you will face much tougher punishments if you are convicted of a federal crime than if you were charged with a state crime. If your penalty requires a jail term, you will also be transferred to federal prison.

What are State Crimes?

A federal, county, or city peace officer or agent will most likely arrest you if you commit a state crime. You can also face charges in state courts, which are located in every county in California. If you are convicted of a felony, the sentence will be decided by state laws that may include time in county jail or state prison.

Sentencing and Punishment for Federal Charges

Although certain federal charges are similar to state charges, federal offenses are much more severe and are prosecuted by the federal government.

If a federal law enforcement agency (i.e., FBI, DEA, ICE, USPS, etc.) is investigating the crime and/or if the crime comes under federal charges jurisdiction. As well as whether the crime will come under the jurisdiction of federal courts (on or against federal property, related to interstate commerce, violating Federal Statutes or the Constitution, etc.).

The following are just a few of the more common federal charges:

Drug Offenses and Trafficking – 21 USC Sec. 841

It is illegal to knowingly and deliberately do the following under the United States Code 21 Section 841:

Manufacture, sell, dispense, or possess a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense it; or

Create, distribute, dispense, or possess a counterfeit drug with the intent to distribute or dispense it.

Marijuana, hard drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines), and prescription medications are all examples of controlled substances (like Vicodin or Oxycontin).

A counterfeit drug is one that has, without permission, the container or marking of a manufacturer, distributor, or dispenser's trademark, trade name, distinguishing mark, imprint, number, unit, or any resemblance thereof.