In 2019, the federal court system convicted 76,538 people. In 26.6% of those cases, the courts found defendants guilty of drug crimes. If you are facing federal charges, you are up against potentially serious consequences. You need a drug crimes lawyer who is experienced in dealing with federal prosecutors and knows how to mount a strong defense. The right attorney can also help you navigate the complex process of a federal crimes case.
The Difference Between State and Federal Charges
The first difference between state and federal charges is in who files the accusations. When you are charged with a federal crime, it is the U.S. government that levies the charges against you rather than the state government.
Often, crimes prosecuted at the federal level are considered more serious and can carry significantly harsher penalties. A drug crimes lawyer works to get you the most favorable outcome possible. Federal crimes are different from state crimes in how they are investigated and the types of charges that are filed.
Federal Crime Investigations
If you are being investigated for a crime at the federal level, you may have one or more government agencies or departments conducting investigations on the crime you are accused of committing. Federal drug crimes may involve the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Investigations often include state and local law enforcement as well. With the help of a drug crimes lawyer, you’ll know what to expect in the investigations process.
Federal Crime Charges
The U.S. government files charges in cases that violate federal laws and impact the nation. Additionally, if a person commits a crime in multiple states or one that crosses state lines, the federal government gets involved. Common federal crimes include:
- Money laundering
- Immigration offenses
- Internet crimes
- Drug crimes
If you are convicted of a federal-level crime, you could face harsh penalties, including prison time and substantial fines. Drug trafficking convictions carry a mandatory minimum of either five years or 10 years in prison, depending on the substance. The maximum sentence is either 40 years or life. An experienced drug crimes lawyer is crucial for mounting a defense that reduces the likelihood the judge imposes maximum sentences.
The Role of a Grand Jury
If you are charged with a federal crime, your case first goes before a grand jury. The grand jury is comprised of between 16 and 23 individuals whose role is to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed to trial. If so, the accused is formally charged.
It’s important to understand that the grand jury does not decide your fate. They only decide whether you must face the court. When the grand jury convenes, the session is closed to the public. As a defendant, you have a right to appear and testify, but your drug crimes lawyer does not.
Though your attorney cannot join you in the court for this session, this legal professional can offer guidance on how to handle the proceedings. Anything you say during the grand jury session can be used against you during your trial, so it’s critical you know what to do.
Your Rights in Federal Crimes Cases
If you are formally charged, the judge holds an arraignment hearing, during which bond is set. Your attorney is allowed at the hearing and can help ensure your rights are maintained. Though charges are filed, you are not guilty under the law until prosecutors prove it.
The Constitution establishes rights for those who are accused of crimes, including the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. One of the most important roles your attorney has is protecting your rights throughout the process and making sure you do not inadvertently incriminate yourself.
Experienced Southern Nevada Drug Crimes Lawyer
A federal drug crime charge is a serious offense. You need the help of an experienced drug crimes lawyer to defend your case and fight for you in court. At C. Benjamin Scroggins, Chtd., we understand federal laws and prosecutor tactics, and we know how much is at stake for you and your loved ones if you are convicted. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let us get to work for you.