Federal Criminal Defense
Most crimes are state crimes, made illegal by the Florida Code and prosecuted at the state level. However, certain types of behaviors are considered violations of federal law. If you violate federal laws and are charged with a federal crime, you may face serious penalties including a long prison sentence and significant fines. Not every attorney is equipped to handle federal criminal defense cases and you need a seasoned federal defense lawyer to help in your defense.
Tampa criminal defense lawyer Ben Stechschulte has significant experience defending clients in federal courts. As a board-certified Federal criminal trial law attorney, Ben has the knowledge of the federal court system and federal crimes to protect your rights, develop a strong defense, negotiate a deal or otherwise minimize the chances of a long jail sentence.
Certain types of behavior are illegal under both federal and state law and you may be tried in either federal or state court at the discretion of the U.S. attorney. Other behavior, however, is exclusively classified as a federal crime. Examples of crimes that can be prosecuted at the federal level include:
- Trafficking in controlled substances. Trafficking can be charged as either a federal crime or a state crime. You can be charged with trafficking even for possessing small amounts of drugs and even if you are not actually engaged in drug trafficking since these laws identify the offense of trafficking based on how much of a drug you have in your possession.
- Wire fraud. Wire fraud and mail fraud are related offenses wherein you use the federal mail system or wire communication to engage in fraud or another related crime.
- Tax fraud. Intentionally lying to the Internal Revenue Service, or intentionally neglecting to file and pay income taxes, can be considered a federal crime. Defrauding the IRS is an exclusively federal crime that is prosecuted only in federal court, not on the state level.
- Federal gun crimes. Possession of a gun by a felon is illegal under both federal and state law and you can be charged with this crime or other federal gun crimes in federal court at the discretion of the U.S. attorney.
These are just a few examples of the types of crimes that can give rise to federal charges. Whenever you engage in criminal behavior that spans state lines, or when you engage in organized crime, you may be charged in federal court.
Defending Yourself Against Federal Criminal Charges
Because the penalties for federal crimes are often severe, it is essential that you explore all possible defenses and options to avoid conviction or reduce your sentence. One potential option is providing substantial assistance to the government in helping to convict another criminal. In a drug crimes case, for example, you might turn in your dealer in exchange for immunity or a lesser sentence. The slang term for substantially assisting the government is referred to as “5K” and your ability to receive a lesser sentence for providing substantial assistance is at the discretion of the U.S. attorney.
Another option is pleading guilty and accepting responsibility. An Acceptance of Responsibility clause in the federal sentencing guidelines allows for lower sentences for certain individuals who plead guilty to and accept responsibility for committing federal crimes. You may receive a reduced sentence by accepting responsibility only for eligible criminal acts and only if you demonstrate behavior that shows that you truly are accepting responsibility for your actions. For instance, severing criminal ties would be essential to successfully having your sentence reduced by accepting responsibility.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Ben Stechschulte
At the Law Office of Ben Stechschulte, we have the knowledge and legal experience to help you proactively deal with federal criminal charges. Contact us today to discuss your case.