Navigating the Complex World of Federal Crimes: An Overview of Charges and Legal Defense Options

April 25, 2023 by Anthony Riccio

High profile federal crimes such as the air national guardsman, Jack Teixeira, is in the process of being charged with a variety of crimes due to having leaked classified information. However, it is important to understand the complex world of federal crimes because they are not all high profile, and they often impact defendants who have committed crimes involving drugs and weapons.

Typically, if someone is going to be facing federal charges, an investigation will take place before a charge is made. Anyone who finds themselves under investigation for a federal crime should seek immediate legal advice from a federal criminal defense lawyer.

Federal Agencies Involved in Federal Criminal Charges

When someone is facing criminal charges, the charges often include one or more federal agencies. These agencies will refer a defendant to a U. S. Attorney in the respective district where the person resides, or where the crime took place. Some of these agencies include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Each of these agencies acts as an investigative body when there is a belief a crime has been committed. In some cases, a defendant may face state charges as well as federal charges for the same crime.

Types of Federal Criminal Charges

Federal criminal charges can be filed against a defendant for a number of different charges including:

  • Financial crimes — wire, insurance, healthcare, or mortgage fraud may be among some of the financial crimes which result in federal charges. Other types of financial crimes include bank robbery, bribery, and counterfeiting. Tax evasion may also be considered a type of financial crime.
  • White collar crimes — these crimes are nearly always crimes which involve a person who is involved in a company. These crimes sometimes are called “victimless” crimes, but this is seldom always the case. Some common white-collar crimes include securities violations, embezzlement, and intellectual property crimes. These crimes are nearly always investigated by the FBI.
  • Crimes against a person — possession of child pornography, human trafficking, kidnapping, and identity theft crimes are often considered crimes against a person. These charges are serious and anyone who is under investigation for these crimes should contact a lawyer immediately.
  • Non-violent crimes — crimes like bribery, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, may be included as part of an overall strategy to enhance a crime for which someone is under investigation.
  • Other crimes — weapons charges, and drug trafficking charges may be considered federal crimes if someone is accused of crossing state lines.

Cybercrimes and terrorism charges are also categorized as federal charges. Nearly all federal charges will result in long-term investigations of a person or persons before charges are actually lodged against a defendant.

Potential Defenses to Federal Criminal Charges

If someone is facing both state and federal charges, it is important to understand there are two court systems. The state court system and federal court systems are different entities and are not bound by the same sentencing guidelines. Because of the more severe punishments for federal crimes, a strong defense is a necessity. Some of the defenses which are possible with federal crimes include:

  • Having an alibi — in some cases, it may be possible to present an alibi if someone is facing a federal charge. For example, if someone is facing a weapons or drug charge, the prosecutor must prove the person was at the site of the alleged crime.
  • Affirmative defense — sometimes an affirmative defense is the best option when facing criminal charges. A defendant may claim they were defending themselves or another person, they lacked the capacity to exercise sound judgment due to being under the influence, or they were under duress which was directly responsible for their actions.
  • Entrapment — a defendant may claim they were coerced into committing a crime by an officer of the law. This type of defense can be difficult but may be possible depending on certain circumstances.
  • Prosecutor issues — a defendant may claim they are being prosecuted maliciously or that the prosecutor is singling them out, known as selective prosecution.

Every criminal case is different and when someone is facing federal criminal charges it is imperative they immediately get in contact with a lawyer who may represent them. In some cases, it may be possible to get charges reduced or thrown out because of a lack of solid evidence.

When Someone Becomes the Target of a Federal Investigation

Sometimes the first sign that someone is the target of a federal investigation is when an employee of a federal agency knocks on their door and asks if they can answer a few questions. This is typical in crimes involving computers, or other white-collar crimes. Anyone who is approached by a federal agency regarding an investigation should contact a lawyer immediately and do not answer any questions until this step is complete. Remember, federal agencies often use surveillance footage, social media posts, cell phone data, GPS tracking, and potentially use wiretaps when they are conducting an investigation.

Just because someone is under investigation does not mean they are going to face federal charges, but the risk of federal charges should be taken seriously. Federal charges often carry much harsher sentences than state level charges, even when the crimes are not considered violent crimes. Because of the harsh sentences a conviction could mean, an experienced federal criminal defense attorney should be contacted as soon as possible.

When to Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Federal Law

Anyone who learns they are under investigation for a federal crime should seek immediate advice from a federal criminal defense lawyer. Having an attorney to help navigate the investigation can help protect a potential defendant’s privacy and may allow the lawyer to be better prepared in the event a defendant is facing a federal charge. No defendant or potential defendant should answer any questions posed by a federal investigator without first consulting with a federal criminal defense attorney. The risks are too great. Call Riccio Law at 617-404-8878 to schedule a free consultation.