Federal criminal investigations and prosecutions tend to be considerably more involved and complex than similar investigations and prosecutions at the state level. That means it is crucial to protect yourself and your rights if you have been charged with a federal criminal offense, or you have reason to believe you are involved in a federal criminal investigation. To do that, you need an experienced Orlando federal criminal defense attorney on your side immediately.
At Haas Law, we have the necessary experience and resources to protect you during a federal criminal investigation and aggressively defend you if that investigation results in a prosecution. Do not wait to get an experienced Orlando federal criminal defense attorney on your side if you are targeted in a federal investigation or accused of committing a federal crime.
When Is a Crime a Federal Crime?
For the uninitiated, the judicial system in the United States can be confusing. Criminal offenses can often be prosecuted by the state and/or federal government. Our federalist form of government allows for both a centralized federal government and individual state governments which allows both the levels of government to enact and enforce criminal laws. The jurisdiction of the federal government, however, is limited to criminal offenses that fall into the following categories:
- Immigration and customs. For the most part, immigration and customs violations are handled by the federal government. This includes criminal offenses such as illegally entering or remaining in the United States, sex trafficking, and importing banned plants, animals, or substances.
- Crimes that involve conduct crossing state lines. When conduct involved in the commission of a crime crosses state lines, the federal government may assert jurisdiction. This has been interpreted broadly to give federal authorities jurisdiction over crimes including bank robbery and drug trafficking (because the money/drugs have crossed state lines at some point) as well as “white crimes” such as embezzlement and cyber crimes.
- Crimes that involve the accused crossing state lines. If during the commission of a crime, the defendant crosses a state line, the federal government has jurisdiction. For example, if a kidnaper takes a victim over a state line, it becomes a federal crime.
- Crimes that happen on federal land or that involve a federal officer. A crime that takes place on federal lands, such as a federal building or national park, falls within federal jurisdiction as does a crime committed against a federal officer.
- Crimes perpetrated against the federal government. Conduct that involves fraud, deception, or misrepresentation against the federal government, such as Medicare fraud, counterfeiting money, and federal tax fraud, gives the federal government jurisdiction.
How Do I Know If I Am a Target in a Federal Criminal Investigation?
Unfortunately, you do not always know when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you. On the contrary, federal criminal investigations frequently involve multiple law enforcement agencies and may go on for months, even years, before the government decides to prosecute anyone. There are times, however, when a suspect will be officially notified through a “target letter.” A target letter is typically sent when the crime involved is a “white crime,” meaning a non-violent, financially motivated criminal offense. The target letter will inform you that you are the target of a federal grand jury investigation and specify the crime(s) that you are suspected of committing. It may also include additional requests, such as a request to contact someone involved in the investigation or to submit documents relevant to the investigation. If you receive a target letter, do not respond to any requests without first consulting with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
What Are My Rights in a Federal Criminal Case?
The best way to ensure that federal authorities do not violate your rights is to get an Orlando federal criminal defense attorney involved the moment you have reason to believe you are part of a federal criminal case. A basic understanding of your constitutional rights as a suspect or accused, however, is also important when dealing with federal law enforcement and/or prosecutors. Consider the following commonly violated rights:
- Your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The 4th Amendment prohibits a law enforcement officer from conducting a search without a warrant based on probable cause. Unless a search qualifies for an exception to the warrant requirement, failure to secure a warrant and/or failure to establish probable cause makes a search illegal. Evidence seized in an illegal search may be excluded from use at a subsequent trial.
- Your right against self-incrimination (right to remain silent). The 5th Amendment prohibits you from being compelled to say or do anything that would incriminate yourself. It does not prohibit a law enforcement officer from asking you questions; however, it does protect you from being required to answer those questions. Like most other rights, you can assert or waive your right to remain silent at any time. Always consult with an attorney before agreeing to talk to a law enforcement officer.
- Your 6th Amendment rights. The 6th Amendment provides you with several important rights in a criminal investigation/prosecution, including your right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury as well as your right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you. This is also where your right to an attorney can be found.
How Can an Orlando Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?
As a target or accused in a federal criminal investigation or prosecution you have crucial rights, including the right to a vigorous defense. You need an experienced Orlando federal criminal defense attorney, however, to protect those rights and prepare that defense.
At Haas Law, our attorneys have extensive experience with federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. Attorney David Haas is a former federal prosecutor, providing him with invaluable insight into how the federal government investigates and prosecutes cases. That insight, along with our resources and dedication, will be used to aggressively protect and defend you if you are under investigation by federal law enforcement, or you have been formally accused of committing a federal crime.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.