Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t make a federal case out of it?” That warning makes federal cases sound serious and bears the truth. In the hierarchy of crimes, federal offenses stand at the top of those considered the gravest. While all crimes can lead to harsh consequences involving incarceration, hefty fines, lengthy probation periods, and more, federal crimes often carry the harshest of all penalties. They are often subject to federal sentencing guidelines which are set as standard policy for the punishment of federal felonies and Class A misdemeanors.
What Is a Federal Crime?
Federal crimes are those that violate legislation passed by the federal government, crimes that take place on federal property, or criminal conduct or defendants that cross state lines. In other words, they fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Some crimes are strictly state crimes, such as DUI. Other crimes, depending on the circumstances, can be both state and federal crimes, while others are strictly federal crimes, such as IRS tax evasion.
Federal crimes are offenses made against federal institutions, such as the IRS, the U.S. Postal system, or banks guaranteed by the Federal Reserve System. They are often subject to intensive criminal investigations that can go on for months or even years by federal agencies seeking enough compelling evidence to gain a conviction in federal court. Such agencies include the FBI, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the IRS, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These are investigations and prosecutions in federal court that are fully backed and financed by the U.S. government.
Examples of Federal Crimes
Thousands of federal crimes have been established by law, far too many to list. These range from pointing a laser at an aircraft to airline hijacking, bank robbery, the distribution of child pornography, terrorist acts, and human and drug trafficking.
Below are just some of the other examples of federal crimes:
- Assaulting a federal officer
- Bombing matters
- Hiding a person from arrest
- Copyright infringement
- Environmental crimes
- Hate crimes
- Violations of immigration law, such as marriage fraud to gain a green card
- Insurance fraud
- Investment fraud and scams such as Ponzi schemes
- Healthcare fraud, such as Medicare fraud
- Money laundering
- Obstruction of criminal investigations
- Sexual conduct with a minor
- Wire fraud
Penalties for Federal Crimes
The penalties for a federal crime conviction will depend on what the crime is, what the extent of damage to human life or property is, your previous criminal history, if any, and other circumstances that may have “aggravated” the crime. In general, federal prison sentences are longer than those imposed by state courts. The maximums for these crimes are also usually longer and prosecutors have less leeway in negotiating plea bargains for federal crimes. Federal judges also have less leeway when sentencing and generally must follow federal sentencing guidelines. Mandatory minimum sentences may apply, such as for drug trafficking crimes. Furthermore, punishment enhancements may apply where crimes are deemed to be aggravated.
Why You Need an Experienced Federal Defense Attorney
For federal criminal investigation or charges, you need a defense attorney who is licensed to practice in federal court. Federal court rules differ from those of state courts. Having someone skilled and experienced in handling those rules, as well as federal agents and prosecutors will be to your advantage. At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, we bring more than 50 years of combined legal experience to your case and will do everything possible to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Contact us through our online request form or at (937) 685-7006 today.