Bad news. You’re charged with a federal crime and now you are wondering what to do. The very first thing you should do is contact a federal criminal defense attorney. Do not speak to law enforcement or prosecutors and their investigators without your attorney present. Our Constitution guarantees you the right to counsel and the right to remain silent. Unequivocally invoke both rights immediately.
Not all attorneys are qualified to represent you in federal court. it requires being admitted to the federal bar in addition to having a state law license. Federal crimes are charged under federal statutes and when federal cases are being prosecuted, federal rules of evidence and procedure govern. This is true always, and the state in which the crime is prosecuted is irrelevant.
Types of Federal Crimes
There are some crimes only the federal government can prosecute. These are mostly offenses during which the activity crossed state lines or violated a specific federal statute which are sometimes referred to as white collar crimes. Some types of federal crimes include:
- Mail Fraud
- Wire fraud
- Aircraft Hijacking
- Computer Crimes
- Mailbox Crime
- Federal Hate Crimes
- Weapons Crimes
- Drug Crimes
- Securities Fraud
Federal Crime Penalties
The penalties for federal crime vary depending on the charge, much like those for state crimes. The major difference is that if you are convicted and sent to prison for a federal crime, you will serve your sentence in a federal, not state, prison. Like state prisons, different federal prisons have differing levels of security and the more severe the crime, the higher security level prison you will be sent to.
The lowest level offenders are sent to minimum security prisons (also known as prison camps) where inmates are housed in dormitory-type housing and there is limited or no perimeter fencing. At the other end of the spectrum are high security prisons (called U.S. Penitentiaries). In these facilities, housing consists of multiple- and single-occupant cells, highly-secured perimeters, and a high staff to inmate ratio.
How to Choose a Federal Criminal Attorney
How do you go about deciding who should be your attorney? Clearly, the attorney must be a federal attorney, but once you get past that obvious qualification, there are several other things you should look for.
You want an attorney who has experience not only in federal court, but with the type of offense you are facing. An attorney who got a good result for a client charged with theft in state court may have no idea how to defend against a federal drug charge. Ask the attorney questions and research his background. And find out about his reputation in the professional community. That’s pretty simple to do with an internet search.
You want an attorney who can negotiate with the prosecution and is not afraid to do so. Prosecutors often try to pressure defendants to take plea bargain deals (you plead guilty, take the conviction, and try to move on) by threatening long prison sentences or other undesirable outcomes. A good defense attorney will interact with the opposing attorney on your behalf and present you the information you need to decide without feeling intimidated.
It’s possible, depending on the facts of your case, that you may wish to take your case to trial. Find a good litigator. The ability to conduct a jury trial does not just happen upon an attorney. It is a specific set of skills that takes specialized training and experience to hone and perfect. Juries are fickle and your attorney’s skill in selecting the people who will hear your case can affect the entire outcome.
Who’s on the Team?
A good attorney will realize that he needs other people on his team. This includes people like investigators, paralegals, and legal assistants. Your case may also benefit from the testimony of expert witnesses – people like medical professionals, social workers, or those with specialize technical expertise. You need an attorney who can look at your case and determine who should be brought in to help it along.
Are They Around?
What you don’t want to have happen is this: You retain an attorney who seems all gungho to represent you, but then when you try to get in touch, he never answers his phone and can’t seem to figure out how to respond to an email. And there’s never anyone in the office to leave a message with.
Select an attorney who will give you multiple ways to get in touch with him and his team. Of course, your attorney can’t answer the phone if he’s in court or meeting with another client, but you want someone who will respond to your questions and take the time to explain the progress in your case.
The Schnipper Difference
David Schnipper is a highly experienced Atlanta federal criminal lawyer and has tried cases based on a large number of different charges. He understands federal rules and procedures and the consequences his clients face.
Before he became a defense attorney, David was a District Attorney in two different districts. He knows the legal system from both sides and can use that to the advantage of his clients. He gets the mindset of a prosecutor and can anticipate their next move. In federal court, as throughout our system, to be convicted of a crime, the prosecution has to prove every element of the crime you are charged with beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof in our entire system and David knows how to make a prosecutor do their job. He understands how to introduce doubt and poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
David has a competent team of professionals who help him on every case. Investigators to meet with witnesses, review crime scene reports, and go over the evidence against you. Paralegals and legal assistants help with so many of the more mundane aspects of the case, so David can focus on the meat of your case.
AND you’ll get David’s personal cell phone number. You can call him any time to talk about your case or ask questions.
Of course, your case is unique to you and David can’t guarantee you a specific result. What he can guarantee is that he will bring the benefit of his experience, his capable legal team, and his compassion and dedication to your case. Contact Schnipper Law online today or call (404) 545-5845 to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation today.
Experience the Schnipper Difference!