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Criminal offenses charged at the federal level will carry much harsher penalties than those penalized at the state level. If you have been accused of a crime at the federal level, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced federal defense attorney. The Criminal Defense Team represents defendants throughout the State of Indiana in federal criminal court, and the firm is led by three board-certified attorneys who work together on every case at the firm. When you hire The Criminal Defense Team of Baldwin Perry & Wiley PC, you will get two lawyers on your individual case, which can prove critical to strategizing an airtight defense against federal charges.
Contact The Criminal Defense Team for a free initial consultation with our Indiana federal criminal defense lawyers. Defending clients throughout Indiana.
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While most matters are handled according to state law, there are several scenarios in which federal law has jurisdiction. In the context of criminal charges, the federal court has jurisdiction over crimes that impact the federal or national interest to some degree.
Federal crimes are offenses that violate United States federal laws rather than state laws. These crimes are typically investigated by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and others.
The following types of crimes are handled in federal court:
- Crimes that take place on federal land or that involve federal officers. For example, a murder in a national park or an assault against a Drug Enforcement Agency officer.
- Crimes that cross state lines. For example, a kidnapping that begins in California and ends in Indiana or a wire fraud scheme with offenders and alleged victims in several states.
- Crimes involving fraud, deception, or misrepresentation on the federal government or one of its agencies. Examples include federal tax fraud and Medicaid fraud.
- Crimes related to immigration or customs violations. Examples include cross-board human trafficking and importing illegal products.
Federal crimes are prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys and investigated by federal law enforcement agents (as opposed to local police officers for state-level crimes).
- Fraud: This includes various types of fraud such as wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and securities fraud.
- Embezzlement: The misappropriation of funds or property entrusted to someone's care.
- Tax Evasion: Deliberately falsifying or underreporting income to avoid paying taxes.
- Insider Trading: Illegally trading stocks or securities based on non-public information.
- Drug Trafficking: The distribution, sale, or transportation of illegal drugs across state or international borders.
- Drug Manufacturing: Producing illegal drugs such as methamphetamine or cultivating marijuana.
- Illegal Firearm Possession: Possessing firearms or weapons in violation of federal law, such as being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
- Trafficking in Firearms: Illegally selling or transporting firearms.
- Computer Fraud and Hacking: Unauthorized access to computer systems, data breaches, and cyberattacks.
- Identity Theft: Using stolen personal information for fraudulent purposes.
- Terrorist Acts: Acts of terrorism, including planning, financing, or carrying out attacks against the United States or its citizens.
- Material Support for Terrorism: Providing resources, funding, or support to terrorist organizations.
- Illegal Entry/Reentry: Illegally crossing the U.S. border or reentering the country after deportation.
- Document Fraud: Forging or using fake immigration documents.
- Sex Trafficking: Forcing or coercing individuals into the commercial sex trade.
- Labor Trafficking: Exploiting individuals for forced labor or services.
- Counterfeit Currency: Manufacturing or distributing fake U.S. currency.
- Trademark Counterfeiting: Producing counterfeit goods with trademarks or logos.
- Environmental Pollution: Violations of environmental regulations, including illegal disposal of hazardous waste.
- Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO): Prosecution of individuals or organizations engaged in a pattern of criminal activities such as organized crime.
- Bribery: Offering or accepting bribes to influence government actions.
- Embezzlement by Public Officials: Misappropriation of public funds.
Espionage and National Security Offenses:
- Espionage: Spying on behalf of a foreign government or entity.
- Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information: Leaking classified information.
- Bank Robbery and Robbery of Federal Facilities: Crimes involving the theft of money from banks or other federal institutions.
The federal government implements advisory federal sentencing guidelines, which lay out a sentencing range for federal crimes based on the following:
- Offense level – Federal crimes are assigned an offense level between 1-43, with 43 being the most severe level.
- Criminal history category – Defendants are also assigned one of 6 criminal history categories based on their past convictions, with Category VI being for offenders with significant criminal records.
The offense levels and criminal history categories are organized into a grid, and where the specific numbers assigned to an offender’s case intersect is what the advised sentencing range is for their crime. Federal penalties are typically longer than state penalties for similar offenses, and prison sentences will be served in federal prison.
Factors Impacting the Offense Level
Certain factors in a case could impact the offense level to increase several levels or decrease. Common examples of level adjustments are:
- The crime was motivated by hate – increases 3 levels
- The defendant knew the alleged victim was vulnerable (due to age or physical or mental condition) – increases 2 levels
- The offender obstructed justice – increases 2 levels
- The defendant clearly accepts their responsibility for the crime – decreases 2 levels
- The defendant was a minor participant in the crime – decreases 4 levels
Punishments for Federal Convictions
- Class E Felonies carry a maximum federal prison sentence of 5 years.
- Class D Felonies may result in a federal prison term of up to 10 years.
- Class C Felonies can lead to federal imprisonment for up to 25 years.
- Class B Felonies carry a minimum of 25 years in federal prison.
- Class A Felonies warrant either a life sentence in federal prison or the possibility of the death penalty.
Defenses Against Federal Criminal Charges
Defenses against federal criminal charges can take various forms, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. It's essential to consult with an experienced Indiana federal crime lawyers to determine the most appropriate defense strategy. Some common defenses include:
Lack of Evidence: Argue that the government lacks sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. This can involve challenging the credibility of witnesses or disputing the accuracy of physical evidence.
Mistaken Identity: Argue that you were not the person who committed the crime, emphasizing any discrepancies in eyewitness identifications or evidence.
Constitutional Challenges: Challenge the constitutionality of the law or statute under which you are charged, arguing that it violates your constitutional rights.
Alibi Defense: Prove that you were not at the scene of the crime when it occurred, presenting evidence and witnesses to support your alibi.
Entrapment: If law enforcement induced you to commit a crime that you wouldn't have committed otherwise, you may be able to argue entrapment.
Duress or Necessity: Claim that you were compelled to commit the crime under extreme duress or out of necessity to prevent a greater harm.
Federal criminal charges must not be handled lightly. If you are facing federal criminal allegations in Indiana, reach out to The Criminal Defense Team of Baldwin Perry & Wiley PC to discuss your defense options immediately. The federal criminal justice system is complex to navigate, but the board-certified attorneys at The Criminal Defense Team will guide you through it step by step.