Federal cases move quickly and it is important that you contact an attorney immediately. This is particularly important because federal cases tend to be testimony centric and suspects are often intimidated into making incriminating statements before they hire a lawyer. Federal cases are less common than state cases, but often more severe because people convicted of federal crimes must typically serve at least 80% of their sentence before supervised release. The term of supervised release varies from case to case but is often for life. Federal cases don’t just involve crimes where a state or international boundary was crossed, but involve cases that affect interstate commerce. Courts have determined that almost any criminal activity affects interstate commerce therefore there are a wide variety of federal criminal offenses. Some of the most common federal crimes are drug crimes, possession of child pornography, and unlawful re-entry following deportation.
Convictions in federal court based solely on the testimony of a co-conspirator are valid in federal court. Additionally, a federal conspiracy case does not require possession of any illegal drugs. All the government has to prove is that three or more people conspired to distribute drugs and that the accused did one or more overt acts in favor of the conspiracy. The way amounts of controlled substances are determined is different than in state possession cases. In a federal conspiracy defendants are criminally responsible for all of the drugs distributed during the conspiracy. The amount is usually proven by testimony only. For example a defendant that admits to selling 4oz of methamphetamine every day for 15 months is held criminally responsible for 50,960 grams or 50.960 kilograms of methamphetamine. If that person has two prior felony probations their guideline range would be a minimum of 292-360 months of imprisonment. Remember this defendant may have never been found with illegal drugs on him or anywhere near him.
Possession of Child Pornography is a serious matter that is becoming an increasingly common charge. Like drug cases, talking to investigators often makes the situation worse. These cases often revolve around peer to peer software exchanges of pornographic images. Federal agents are often able to see these images without a search warrant and able to obtain a search warrant once the pornographic images are viewed from a suspects shared file. Search warrants are then served on the internet service provider which typically leads federal investigators to an IP address, which leads them to a location where the computer in question is seized and then examined. A suspect is usually then identified and interviewed before an arrest is made and without a lawyer. Incriminating statements made during this interview are typically admissible even without a lawyer because the suspect is not in custody at the time. If convicted a defendant often faces more time than a state case where actual physical contact occurs. However, even where the Government has a solid case on possession of child pornography their sentencing enhancements may be on less solid ground. It’s important to hire an experienced attorney that understands both child pornography cases and sentencing enhancements related to possession of child pornography.
Unlawful re-entry following deportation is perhaps one of the most difficult cases to achieve an acquittal or dismissal for obvious reasons, but hiring an experienced attorney is important if you are going to get a good result. The fact that you, as a defendant, are physically here in the United States presents a problem for the defense. However, unlawful re-entry cases have highly variable punishment ranges depending on which enhancements apply. The cases are worse if the government can prove that an accused has been deported twice or has committed an aggravated felony in the past. It takes a skilled attorney who understands federal law keep these sentencing enhancements to a minimum.