When somebody is charged with a federal crime, it means that the offense is not prosecuted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, but instead by the government of United States under federal law. Federal court cases are often cases that can be tried both under state law and federal law, but because there is a federal component to the offense, the federal prosecutors will be the ones taking care of the case.
Generally speaking, federal criminal cases are very different than state criminal cases, both in the process and the potential outcomes. Because it is the federal government that is working to prosecute the individual, they have access to a seemingly unlimited amount of resources. They have agencies and special agents at their disposal to do their investigations, which is an entirely sophisticated investigation technique. An experienced Alexandria federal criminal lawyer is therefore imperative and will be able to help you understand exactly what to expect from the case, while also preparing a defense specific to federal court, which often involves a much more complex set of facts and allegations. To learn more about what you may be facing, call and schedule a consultation with a criminal lawyer in Alexandria today.
If there is the option to charge somebody with just a federal offense versus the state offense that could be charged, what will happen is the person will probably be charged with the federal offense. Federal offenses are generally considered more serious offenses, and often carry higher fees or more time in incarceration. Because it has more serious consequences than the same offense conviction would have in state court, prosecutors often decide to bring the federal charge instead of the state charge because that is the more serious of the two.
However, any time that one commits an offense that breaks federal law or is on federal property, or if a crime crosses state lines, a federal attorney in Alexandria may be needed as a federal charge can be brought.
The penalties differ between state and federal crime because of two things. Number one, depending on what someone is charged within a state, the individual might be able to have time in a local jail—for example, county jail. If someone is charged with a felony and convicted of a felony, that person might go to prison to a state institution. For federal court, it is more serious because the cases that are heard in federal court might carry sentences of many years in a federal prison, which are much more strict, generally will carry larger fines, and could be anywhere in the United States.
As far as other penalties are concerned, probation levels are different between state and federal offenses. If an individual has, for example, a state conviction that carries with it probation, that individual is working with the state on the local level to finish that probation. Federally, one could be in a totally different state during probation than the individual lives in for the local probation, according to the federal court. It really is a much bigger umbrella of potential consequences and penalties in federal court than it is in state court. There are a lot more strings attached or collateral consequences that come along with those federal criminal convictions as well making an Alexandria federal criminal attorney even more important.
If somebody is charged with a federal crime, one should speak with an Alexandria federal criminal attorney as soon as possible. There is generally more seriousness attached to a federal case because the federal government is much more selective about who they want to prosecute and who they do not want to prosecute. Contacting a criminal defense attorney is absolutely important at the federal level very early on because the attorney will need to prepare earlier and prepare a more robust defense.
For example, just specifically for discovery purposes in federal court, there is a much more sophisticated discovery system. Unlike state courts, because the cases are more serious in federal court, there will be a comprehensive request that needs to be given to the government and then the analysis of the information that comes back will be much more sophisticated by the criminal defense attorney. Certainly hiring somebody as soon as possible is the most important step.
An experienced federal criminal lawyer in Alexandria will be able to address this type of sophisticated investigation and know how to find and use the weaknesses in such cases. This would include investigation and motions to exclude evidence that is found, They will be able to understand what kind of mistakes to look for in the prosecution and in the investigative process. Federal criminal defense attorneys often have experience within the agencies or working with the agencies that are bringing the investigation, so therefore they will know what questions to ask and what kind of information is relevant and not relevant.
There are many steps that a federal criminal attorney will take depending on an individual’s charge. Certainly, if someone is charged with an offense that would require a separate investigation, a federal criminal defense attorney will look into finding out information from every source that is potentially available.
An effective federal criminal defense attorney will ask for discovery (the evidence against you) from the prosecution and will go ahead and interview all the witnesses. It is similar to preparing a criminal defense for a state case or local case, but it carries with it many more strict deadlines and other tasks that need to be done for a defense to be soundly prepared, which is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who has experience in federal court working for an individual so the attorney knows these deadlines, exactly how much time the court needs to hear a motion, or exactly what the process is on that front.