As a defendant in a criminal prosecution, you may be facing serious penalties if you are convicted, including the loss of your freedom and substantial monetary fines. Simply being accused of a crime can have a devastating impact on your career, your reputation, and your family. Whether you have been charged with committing a state or federal criminal offense, you need an Orlando criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect you, your rights, and your future.
At Haas Law, our extensive experience and vast resources allow us to provide you with exceptional representation in a state or federal criminal prosecution. Let us put our skills and commitment to work safeguarding your rights and defending you if you are facing criminal charges in Orlando.
What Is the Difference Between State and Federal Criminal Prosecutions?
In the United States, criminal investigations may be conducted by federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies. Likewise, our federalist form of government allows for criminal prosecutions to take place in the federal criminal justice system or a state criminal justice system. Jurisdiction over criminal investigations and prosecutions may lie exclusively with the federal government, with a state government, or the federal and state governments may have concurrent jurisdiction. Although most defendants are only prosecuted in federal or state court, it is possible to be prosecuted in both for the same alleged criminal conduct.
Federal criminal prosecutions are handled by U.S. Attorneys or Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) who are appointed by the U.S. Attorney General. State-level prosecutions are handled by the Chief or Head Prosecuting Attorney, who may be elected or appointed, and Assistant Prosecutors.
For the federal government to have jurisdiction over a criminal prosecution, the alleged criminal conduct must meet one of the following requirements:
- The criminal conduct crossed state lines.
- The criminal offense involved the accused crossing state lines during the commission of the crime.
- The crime involved fraud, deception, or misrepresentation on the federal government.
- The crime is a violation of federal immigration/customs law.
- The offense occurred on federal land or involved federal officers.
Penalties for a Criminal Conviction
Generally, sentences for a criminal conviction in federal court are harsher and longer than those in state court. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which are officially only “advisory” in nature, are used in federal court and usually call for a longer term of imprisonment. Moreover, federal inmates do not receive the same “two for one” good time credit offered in state court. Instead, federal inmates can only receive a maximum of 54 days per year of good time credit. That means that if convicted, you will serve more of your sentence before being eligible for parole if you are convicted in federal court.
Your Rights in a Criminal Prosecution
Whether you are prosecuted in state or federal court, you have important rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution. State law may provide more protection for suspects and defendants but may not provide less protection than that afforded in the Constitution. Some of your most important Constitutional rights include:
- The right to remain silent. The 5th Amendment affords you the right against self-incrimination. That right includes the right to remain silent, which means that during an encounter with a law enforcement officer, you do not have to answer questions (other than those used to ascertain your identity). To benefit from the protection offered by the right to remain silent, you need to understand when it applies, how to invoke it, and when it is in your best interest to waive it.
- The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures means that a law enforcement officer cannot conduct a search of your person, property, or things without first obtaining a warrant that must be based on probable cause unless an exception to the warrant requirement applies. Any evidence seized may be inadmissible at trial if this right was violated.
- The right to counsel and a trial by jury. The 6th Amendment guarantees several important rights, including your right to be represented by an attorney. It also provides you with the right to a “public trial, by an impartial jury” and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you.
- The right to bail. The 8th Amendment addresses your right to bail in most criminal prosecutions. One important difference between bail in state and federal court is in the bond procedures. For example, federal courts may require a “source of fund” hearing that requires the individual who is paying the bond to show proof that the money is from a legal source.
Get Help from an Experienced Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing state or federal criminal charges in Orlando, or you believe you are being investigated for a crime, it is in your best interest to consult with an Orlando criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer early on ensures that your rights will be protected throughout the investigation and prosecution of your case.
At Haas Law, our Orlando criminal defense attorneys have the resources, skills, and experience needed to successfully defend you in a state or federal criminal prosecution. Let us put our commitment and dedication to work protecting and defending you.
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 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.