If you commit an act that is forbidden under federal law, you will be prosecuted in a federal court and spend time in a federal prison. Although most crimes are prosecuted under state law, offenses such as tax evasion or possessing an illegal firearm may be considered against federal laws even if they aren’t against state or local laws. If convicted, you could face significant prison time as well as a large fine.
A Plea Agreement Is Likely If You Cooperate
If you cooperate with a federal prosecutor, you may receive a lenient sentence. While you still may go to jail or owe restitution for financial crimes, the penalty will be less than what you may have gotten if convicted. For instance, if you cooperate in a tax case, you could simply receive a fine and probation instead of jail time. However, if you cooperate in a white collar fraud case, you may go to jail for a year instead of for a decade.
Minimum Sentences May Be Given in Some Cases
In the event that you are charged under a federal drug statute, you could face a minimum of several years in prison for possessing, consuming or selling a controlled substance. If you sell or traffic a drug across state lines, it could be tried as a federal case even if it would otherwise fall under state law on its own. When minimum sentences exist, the only way to reduce a possible penalty is to have your charge or charges reduced. An attorney may be able to work with prosecutors and the judge in your case to work out an acceptable plea deal. Remember, you are under no obligation to accept a deal even if it is your best likely outcome in the case.
Multiple Federal Entities Have Authority to Investigate Cases
In a federal case, national agencies are generally tasked with investigating and gathering evidence against a suspect. They may work with local authorities in an effort to bring down a drug ring or a mail theft ring that is operating in a confined area. For instance, the FBI and DEA may work with local police to bring down a known drug dealer. The federal agency may gather evidence while the local authorities will actually take individuals into custody. However, you are under no obligation to talk to any agent of the law at any time without your lawyer present regardless of what agency they represent.
Federal Crimes May Take Place Internationally
A federal crime may be committed even if no offense physically occurred in the United States. For instance, United States nationals owe income tax on worldwide income even if they don’t live in the country. If no taxes were paid or a scheme was concocted to avoid paying taxes illegally, United States agents may become involved, and you may be charged with a crime that you will have to answer for. An attorney may be helpful in cases where an individual didn’t know that taxes were owed or otherwise wasn’t aware a crime was being committed whatever the charge may be.
If you have been charged with a federal crime, you could face serious consequences if convicted. It is possible that you will spend years in prison and owe thousands in fines and other financial penalties. Therefore, you need an attorney who may be able to help get charges reduced or otherwise convince authorities to show leniency if an acquittal is not possible.