Being charged with a criminal offense in federal court can be a very intimidating experience for people due to the complexity of the system and the increased penalties. For this reason, if you are facing criminal charges in federal court, do not trust a novice to handle your case. Instead contact an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in Clearwater to get the best results possible.
There are federal courts in every state and the only cases that are tried in those courts are those that have been designated as federal cases. The closest federal court to Pinellas County is in Tampa. If a case is in federal court in Tampa, all pre-trial and trial matters associated with it will occur there, regardless of whether the defendant is commuting.
Prosecutors in federal cases are based out of the United States Attorney’s Office so indictments in federal court can be especially daunting since it specifies the United States of America vs. the defendant. While the stereotypes about the skills of prosecutors are typically untrue, they are especially unrealistic for federal prosecutors.
Federal prosecutor’s caseloads are not as extensive as state prosecutors, they are often great litigators, and there has usually been extensive investigation before charges are filed.
All of this emphasizes the importance of the defendant securing a knowledgeable federal defense attorney in Clearwater, as soon as they are aware that they are being investigated for a federal criminal offense.
Grand Jury Representation
Before charges are filed in federal criminal cases, the prosecutor must secure an indictment from a grand jury. A grand jury is made up of, at least, 16 people; however, unlike a jury at trial, there is no screening for bias. During this process, the federal prosecutor presents evidence to a jury, who determines if the evidence submitted is sufficient for an arrest warrant to be issued. A potential defendant can be subpoenaed for questioning during this process.
While you cannot be represented by an attorney during a grand jury hearing, your Clearwater federal criminal defense attorney is permitted to contact the prosecution prior to that hearing to negotiate on your behalf and help you prepare for the hearing. That negotiation may include securing immunity, advocating for having the investigation against you dropped, and/or making you aware of your legal right not to speak, even during the grand jury process.
State and federal criminal laws are often similar and when there is a violation of those laws, either entity has jurisdiction, or the right to hear the case. If the alleged violation of law occurred in more than one state, has an impact on citizens of another state, or involves the federal government, it is elevated to a federal offense and the federal government will take jurisdiction in that case. If the alleged offense is limited to one state, the state often takes jurisdiction.
Federal prosecutors are generally involved in cases when a defendant is accused with drug trafficking or manufacturing of large quantities of controlled substances. The penalties may be severe, including fine that exceeds a million dollars and imprisonment for more than 20 years.
Internet crimes that draw the attention of federal prosecutors include cyber-stalking and sex crimes. Cyber-stalking occurs when the Internet is used to harass or stalk someone, whether it occurs via email, social media, or on any other platform online. While there is not just one type of sex crime that would attract federal prosecutors, generally, the crime must involve multiple states, commonwealths, or countries.
Child pornography can be prosecuted as a federal offense when the alleged crime involves interstate commerce, which is the practice of doing business in another state. Since the primary method of distributing and obtaining these images is the Internet, which means it is most often a multi-jurisdiction exchange, these charges are often tried as federal offenses.
Tax crimes are prosecuted as federal offenses because the Internal Revenue Service is a federal agency. Simple errors on your taxes do not typically result in federal charges being filed; however, egregious errors that a tax auditor believes that you should have been aware was incorrect and intentional misrepresentations may be prosecuted in federal court.
Just as in any other criminal prosecution, the government in a federal case must meet its burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, which requires establishing that each element of the alleged crime has been met.
An experienced Clearwater federal criminal defense attorney is aware of the elements that must be met and the difficulty that the government has meeting that standard under the best circumstances. Trust your case to an attorney that has the skill to present it in the best light possible in federal court and that is committed to you.