Having a crime on one’s record can have far-reaching negative consequences for the private life and career of the convicted person. And this is especially true for people indicted for federal crimes, as they are frequently harsher and therefore are punished more severely. Check out this article written by federal criminal defense attorneys at Joseph Potashnik and Associates to learn about the peculiarities of this type of offenses, how they differ from state ones, what consequences and penalties they may result in, and what a person should do if investigated or charged with a federal-level offense.

Definition and Types of Federal Crimes

A federal offense is a violation of the U.S. federal legislation. These are the crimes committed against all U.S. citizens, citizens of two and more states, and the U.S. federal government.

For example, tax fraud and evasion results in all U.S. taxpayers getting overbilled, and thus the crime is considered federal. Similarly, fraud and abuse of federally funded healthcare programs results in a waste of all the U.S. taxpayers’ money, and thus Medicaid and Medicare fraud is not just a state-level offense. Other types include the following:

  • racketeering;
  • bank robbery;
  • computer crimes;
  • intellectual property crimes violations;
  • assassination or conspiracy to assassinate the U.S. President, Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate, member of Congress, Cabinet, Supreme Court;
  • murder of a relative of a U.S. judge or a U.S. official;
  • etc.

Difference between state and federal offenses

State-level criminal offenses are prosecuted by the local and state law enforcement authorities. Mostly, these are the crimes committed within the boundaries of a single state and they do not relate to the citizens of other states, at least not directly. Federal crimes in their turn, as it has already been said in this article, are the crimes committed against all U.S. citizens or citizens of two and more states. Sometimes the two types of crimes overlap, in which case the federal government is most likely to take over the case.

Consequences and Penalties for Federal Offenses

State and federal offenses differ in the way they are prosecuted and penalized. First of all, the federal government has much more resources to investigate crimes, and in some cases several investigative agencies will join forces to investigate a charge. Therefore, the more investigators working on the case, the more evidence collected, and thus the prosecution case is likely to be very strong and extremely difficult to challenge.

Secondly, federal and state judges have a different level of discretion when determining penalties and sentences. In federal courts, judges use special sentencing guidelines, which are quite strict and straightforward and among other things have a point system to determine the impact of the person’s previous criminal history on the current sentence and additional punishment enhancements. In state courts, a judge may be guided by either sentencing guidelines or by sentencing ranges with no specific guidelines, depending on the legislation of a particular state.

Thirdly, state and federal legislatures have different sentencing laws for similar crimes, and the latter has harsher and higher maximum penalties.

What to Do If You’re Investigated or Accused of a Federal Offense?

As you see, federal criminal charges are much more challenging to handle and therefore require the expertise of an attorney who has years of experience in the law area your case belongs to. However, even before a lawyer sets to your case, there are some things you can do to make it easier for the legal counsel to build a strong defense.

  • Don’t talk to the government officials before talking to your lawyer. In most cases, by the time the person learns that he or she is under investigation, the agents have already gathered an extensive amount of evidence, and anything you say may serve as proof of whatever information they already have. Sometimes the agents may tell the interrogated person that it’s not he or she who is targeted and that they’re asking for information about some other individual. This may also make you tell the officials some incriminating information.
  • Don’t talk or write or text to anyone about the case except for a lawyer who’ll be handling your defense. The investigators have the authority to review your online activity and your phone may be wiretapped.
  • Always ask for a search warrant or a subpoena. Without these documents the agents can’t force you to give them any papers or search your home or office.
  • Call an attorney who specializes in your kind of cases as soon as possible.

Prompt assistance of an experienced legal counsel can help you get the dismissed, lower criminal penalties, change the degree of the crime you’re charged with to a less severe, even change the court your case will be prosecuted at from federal to state.

Federal Criminal Attorneys in New York

If you’re investigated or have been arrested on federal criminal charges in New York or in New Jersey, contact Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC for a confidential consultation. Our federal lawyers will expertly handle all your interaction with the officials and build an effective defense strategy that will help reach the best possible outcome.

We have handled hundreds of investigations conducted by such investigative agencies as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI and others. With years of experience in communicating with agents from these government bodies and the federal prosecutors and judges, Joseph Potashnik and his colleagues are more than capable of delivering the best possible result.