Federal criminal defense – Not all criminal charges are created equal. Therefore, not all criminal defense is going to the be the same. We are not just talking about strategy, but also collateral consequences, sentencing, and trial procedure. Most crimes charged are state crimes, so federal crimes are less talked about in general. So is federal criminal defense.
In this blog, we will discuss federal criminal defense. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only, and not as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a federal criminal defense attorney.
Distinctions regarding federal criminal defense
There are certain specific characteristics that make a crime a federal crime, rather than a state crime. You can read more about that here. Once it is determined that a crime will be heard under federal jurisdiction, federal sentencing applies, the federal rules of evidence apply, and federal rules of criminal procedure apply.
Obviously, the federal statutes themselves apply which can make the elements of the crime different than they would be in state court. There are also sentencing enhancements (such as the firearm enhancement) that exist in federal court that don’t apply in state court. These are all considerations that must be made by your federal criminal defense attorney. Further, it is important that the defendant understands all of it as well.
Distinctions regarding federal criminal trials
Criminal trials can be much different in state court than they are in federal court. Jury selection tends to be different, courtroom decorum is different, the court staff is different, and the timing of when things happen tend to be different.
In preparing for a federal criminal trial, it is important to note that federal rules of discovery are different than that of state court. Also, there are some instances in federal court where you start to get some information or “warning” that you will be charged with a crime, through a target letter. This is not something that happens very often in state court.
Distinctions regarding defense strategy in federal criminal cases
A large percentage of criminal cases end in a plea bargain. In federal court, that percentage is even higher than in state court – there are a lot more considerations in the federal plea-bargaining process. Federal court is very nuanced when it comes to some crimes and the coinciding punishments. Because of this, sometimes the best strategy is to negotiate the details of what is being pled to rather than going forward with a trial.
Distinctions regarding how sentencing is carried out in federal criminal cases
Typically, if you are found guilty or plead guilty in state court in North Carolina, or South Carolina, your sentencing occurs immediately. In federal court however, this is a process that can take several months or long.
In federal court, representation is far from over after a verdict. There is still a lot that your federal criminal defense attorney must do for you. The sentencing hearing is just one more opportunity for your attorney to advocate on your behalf and, fortunately, he will have plenty of time to prepare for that.
Federal criminal defense can be very complicated. If you have been charged with a federal crime in South Carolina or have been charged with a federal crime in North Carolina, contact us.