Answers From Experienced Federal Defense Lawyers
At Cheronis, Parente & Levitt LLC in Chicago, we are committed to providing you with the knowledge you need about your case and the way it will be handled. Charged with a federal crime? Here are some things you may want to know:
When is a crime a federal charge?
If a crime violates federal laws — laws passed by Congress — it may result in a federal charge. State charges, on the other hand, are those that involve crimes that violate state laws — laws passed by state legislatures or local lawmaking bodies. The question becomes complex in that many of federal and state laws overlap. Many crimes could be prosecuted in federal or state court. Authorities will determine where the case will be prosecuted based on a variety of factors, including severity of the charges and whether the criminal activity crossed state lines. Getting a lawyer involved early could result in keeping a case in state court.
What is the difference between state and federal charges?
There are many differences pertaining to laws, processes and penalties. However, the most visible difference may be the prosecutorial, law enforcement and investigative agencies involved in federal cases. You are up against federal prosecutors, the FBI, the DEA and others. They tend to have more resources than state agencies and are often more experienced as well. They build cases carefully. It is not unusual to have boxes of evidence involved in federal cases, as opposed to a file folder or two in state cases.
Who investigates and prosecutes federal cases?
The U.S. Attorney’s Office typically prosecutes federal cases. These cases may be investigated by one or more federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These agencies may work in tandem with state prosecutors and local police departments, depending on the nature of the case.
Is a federal case likely to go to trial?
Unlike many firms, we are not afraid to try cases in federal court. Each case is different and each case must be judged on its own merits. However, we prepare each case as if it is going to trial. Having an attorney who is prepared for trial is vital. Moreover, a reputation for results in trial as well as evidence of trial preparation may serve as leverage in negotiating a favorable plea deal, should that be necessary. In the event that the case must go to trial, you want an advocate on your side who can effectively communicate to a judge and jury your side of the story, the weaknesses in the evidence against you and the strengths of your case.
Do I need a federal criminal defense lawyer?
You need a lawyer who is either licensed in the federal court where your case is being handled or who has been granted one-time permission to practice in that court. Knowing the distinctions in these cases, you should carefully review a lawyer’s background to verify that he or she has experience handling federal matters. We regularly practice in federal court. We have a record of success in these cases and have handled many major federal cases.