Federal Crimes – Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Crimes – Frequently Asked Questions

In the Los Angeles area, defendants can be charged and prosecuted for crimes in California Superior Court as well as United States Federal Court. People who are facing prosecution for a Federal crime often have many questions about these offenses. The following are some of the more frequently asked questions posed by those facing Federal prosecution.

Q: “What Types of Crimes are Handled in Federal Court?”

As a general rule, offenses occurring within State jurisdictions are prosecuted in California Superior Court and offenses against the Federal government or agencies or offenses that cross state borders are prosecuted in Federal Court. There is often a lot of overlap and, in general, Federal prosecutors tend to prosecute fraud offenses, such as securities or Healthcare fraud, crimes against Federally insured banks, and drug trafficking in which narcotics are bought, sold and transported over state lines and international borders.

Federal crimes are typically investigated by Federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“F.B.I.”), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“A.T.F.”) or the Internal Revenue Service (“I.R.S.”) and are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.

Certain misdemeanors are prosecuted in Federal Court, including crimes that occur on airplanes or cruise ships and lower-level offenses occurring on Federal parks, monuments or military bases.

Q: “Are Federal Sentences More Severe?”

Unlike California state courts, which gives judges and prosecutors a significant amount of flexibility in sentencing defendants, United States Federal Court is governed by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Guidelines set forth very specific sentencing ranges depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the charged offenses. Aggravating and mitigating factors are often assessed at the time of sentencing and can ultimately impact the length of a defendant’s sentence.

Unlike California states courts, defendants in Federal Court will often plea to an offense and are given a sentencing range. Defense counsel will prepare a sentencing memorandum for the judge to review prior to handing down a sentence. A person can be sentenced to probation or to serve time in custody in a United States Federal Penitentiary.

Unlike California state prisons, where a prisoner will serve 50% of his or her sentence for non-strike offenses (and 85% for strike offenses), Federal prisoners must serve 80% of all sentences and then will be placed on Federal parole for period of time.

Q: “Can A Person Be Prosecuted in State and Federal Court for the Same Offense?”

Most people are familiar with the legal concept of “double jeopardy,” which means that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offense. However under the “dual sovereignty doctrine” it is not considered double jeopardy if separate sovereigns seek to prosecute the same person for breaking the law of each jurisdiction. A local or state court and a Federal court are each considered separate sovereigns under the law. This means that a person who is convicted of a drug offense in Los Angeles Superior Court can be charged with the same offense in Federal Court after the State case is done, as long as the person also violated Federal law.

If you or a loved one have been charged with or are under investigation for a Federal offense, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Michael Kraut is a former prosecutor who knows how to effectively defend and represent those charged with Federal crimes.

For more information about Federal crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Michael Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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