Defending Federal Crimes and Sentencing

September 24, 2019 8:05 pm Published by

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers Defending Clients Nationwide

At Eisner Gorin LLP, our federal criminal defense law firm often defends clients who are under investigation or already indicted for a wide range of federal offenses. There is a significant overlap in the context of a defense strategy between a state and federal crime, but there are some primary distinctions worthy of discussion.

If you are under a criminal investigation by a federal law enforcement agency, you need to remain silent and contact an experienced federal criminal lawyer immediately. Early intervention into your case by a seasoned attorney could be the key to a favorable outcome.

It should be noted that not all criminal lawyers handle federal cases. It requires an expertise and knowledge of federal statues and the federal criminal court process. Many federal offenses are complicated with a large amount of evidence that need to be evaluated in order to determine a strategy.

Many lawyers don’t have the experience or resources to handle complex federal crimes. We offer phone consultations for defendants and family members to discuss options for representation.

Federal Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Agencies

Federal crimes are prosecuted by the United States government as opposed to the District Attorney’s Office in one of the 50 states. Federal prosecutions are the responsibility of the United States Attorney’s Office – which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal criminal investigations are conducted by a wide-range of federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security, United States Marshals Service, among others.

It should be noted federal agents often partner with local state law enforcement authorities when conducting sting operations or executing search warrants.

Early Intervention by a Federal Criminal Lawyer

During a criminal investigation, federal law enforcement agents will frequently ask to interview a defendant in an effort to elicit incriminating statements. Anyone under a federal investigation needs to retain an attorney as quickly as possible to guide them through any type of contact with the government agents.

It might not always be possible to avoid charges being filed, but there could be an opportunity for a pre-indictment plea agreement or even cooperation, but it will depend on the specific details of the case. This means it could leave the defendant in a much better situation that other defendants on the case who just wait and see if they are indicted.

Our law firm has handled many cases where a defendant worked with our lawyers to deal with law enforcement and federal prosecutor to negotiate a favorable disposition before the case was formally filed in federal court.

Differences Between Federal and State Courts

After a criminal case has been filed in federal court, the defendant faces a critical decision. They can negotiate a plea agreement or fight the case in a federal jury trial.

In a federal court, negotiating a plea bargaining is a far more formal process than a state court.  For example, state court plea negotiations are normally an informal verbal discussion between the prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer. However, in federal plea negotiations, it involves a formal written document with a detailed factual basis, explicit appeal waivers, and agreements to a sentence recommendation.

Additionally, a federal plea deal rarely results in an exact sentence which the defendant will be guaranteed to receive, which is different than a state court plea deal. Rather, the federal prosecutor will make an agreement not to pursue a sentence higher than a certain amount – but in return – the defendant has to agree not to pursue for a lower sentence than a certain amount.

Federal sentencing is also different than state sentencing in that most federal sentences will include some period of incarceration in federal prison. Probationary sentences can be given to first time offenders with low level offenses, but federal prison sentences are a normal operating procedure.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Jury Trial

Another major difference in federal sentencing is the use of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. On the surface, it might look like some mathematical prison term calculation based on level of offense and criminal history.

However, a substantial part of advocacy for federal criminal defendants is the argument of applicability of the departure factors – that allow a federal judge to reduce or increase a guidelines sentence based on multiple factors. Due to federal case law, the guidelines range itself is “advisory,” which means a federal sentencing judge has significant discretion to vary from the guidelines based on several factors.

This means that a persuasive sentencing memorandum by a federal criminal attorney could play a critical role in persuading the federal judge to exercise their discretion in departing from the guidelines range – and in turn – vary from that range for a total sentence. This could potentially result in a significantly less sentence than the initial guidelines range indicated.

Yet another difference in federal practice is the application of mandatory minimum sentences – especially in federal drug offenses. For example, if a defendant possesses a small amount of certain unlawful narcotics, they could face up to a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence from which the federal judge has no discretion to vary.

Just like prosecution in a state criminal case, if a plea agreement can’t be reached, then the defendant will have to proceed to a federal jury trial.  All twelve members of the jury must reach a unanimous verdict after hearing arguments and seeing evidence from the Assistant United States Attorney and the defendant’s federal defense lawyer.

We have tried several criminal cases in federal court with success. For example, our lawyers recently obtained a jury acquittal on RICO charges for a former gang member after he was improperly accused of maintaining association with a violent criminal street gang.

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

We are a criminal defense firm in Los Angeles, CA which practices in federal courts in California and throughout the United States. Some of the common federal crimes we handle include:

18 U.S.C. § 1341 – Mail Fraud
18 U.S.C. § 1343 – Wire Fraud
18 U.S.C. § 371 – Conspiracy
18 U.S.C. § 1347 – Health Care Fraud
18 U.S.C. § 1956 – Money Laundering
18 U.S.C. § 1961 – Racketeering and Organized Crime
18 U.S.C. § 2251 – Sexual Exploitation of Children
18 U.S.C. § 2252 – Child Pornography
21 U.S.C. § 841 – Drug Trafficking

We exclusively practice criminal defense and have decades of combined experience in prefiling interventions, court representation, and jury trials.  We serve clients anywhere in California and throughout the United States. Contact us for a consultation to discuss your options.

Eisner Gorin LLP
1875 Century Park E #705
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(877) 781-1570

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