Criminal investigations and prosecutions undertaken by the U.S. federal government are typically well-organized, meticulously implemented, and potentially life-changing for everyone involved. As the target of a federal criminal investigation or prosecution, your financial security, professional reputation, and your freedom may all be at risk. If you have reason to believe you are being targeted by federal law enforcement, or you have already been formally charged with a federal criminal offense, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side immediately to safeguard your rights and defend any allegations made against you. At Haas Law, we have the expertise, resources, and commitment required to aggressively advocate on your behalf if you are involved in a federal criminal investigation or prosecution.
What Makes a Crime a Federal Crime?
The nature of our judicial system in the United States allows both the federal government and the governments of each individual state to enact criminal laws and enforce violations of those laws. That means that some crimes can be prosecuted at the state level, the federal level, or both. For the federal government to prosecute a criminal offense, however, it must have jurisdiction over the alleged crime. Federal jurisdiction applies to the following categories of criminal offenses:
- Immigration/customs violations. Crimes such as unlawful entry into the U.S., sex trafficking, and bringing contraband into the U.S. fall under this category.
- Offenses that occur on federal land or that involve federal officers. This covers any crime that occurs in a federal building or on federal land (such as a national park) as well as things such as assault on a federal officer.
- Crossing state lines during the commission of a crime. Parental abductions often become federal crimes if the kidnapper crosses a state line with the child.
- Criminal conduct that crosses state lines. This is an expansive category that has been used to assert federal jurisdiction over everything from bank robbery (money crosses state lines at some point) to smuggling and drug trafficking.
- Fraud, deception, or misrepresentation involving the federal government. This applies when the federal government is the “victim” in a crime, such as tax evasion, counterfeiting money, and Medicare fraud.
What Does It Mean If I Received a Target Letter?
When federal law enforcement authorities are conducting an investigation, they may notify the target(s) of the investigation by sending out a “target letter.” Vital information may be contained in a target letter, including:
- A statement notifying you that you are the target of a federal grand jury investigation
- The nature of the criminal offense being investigated
- A request to contact federal authorities
- A request to produce documents or other potential evidence
- Deadlines for responding
While you should never ignore a target letter, you should also refrain from responding to the letter until you have consulted with a federal criminal defense attorney.
What Are My Rights in a Federal Investigation or Prosecution?
The potential ramifications of a federal investigation or prosecution are serious. Fortunately, you do have several important rights that can help protect you if you are a target or a defendant; however, you must understand your rights and how to assert them to benefit from the protection offered. Among the most relevant Constitutional rights are:
- The right to remain silent. Contained in the 5th Amendment, your right to remain silent protects you from making statements that can be used against you. You must assert this right, however, for it to protect you.
- The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The 4th Amendment prohibits a search of your person, property, or things without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. While there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, evidence seized during an illegal search may be inadmissible at trial.
- The right to a speedy trial and to confront and cross-examine witnesses. You have a right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you.
- The right to bond. Most defendants in a federal criminal prosecution are entitled to a bond that allows them to be released from custody while the case is pending; however, bond hearings are more complicated in federal court.
Get Help from an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Federal authorities have considerable resources that can be used against you during a criminal investigation or prosecution. Consequently, federal criminal prosecutions are typically complex in nature, both factually and procedurally. The potential penalties for a federal criminal conviction are correspondingly serious and often life-altering.
If you are being investigated by federal law enforcement authorities or have been charged with a federal crime, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Haas Law, our federal criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to using their extensive skills, resources, and experience to protect you, your freedom, and your future during a federal investigation or prosecution.
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.