Federal Criminal Defense Law
When you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s important to have a knowledgeable advocate fighting for you. Choosing the right lawyer is especially important when those charges are federal. Because most Texas criminal prosecutions are state-level cases, not every Houston criminal defense attorney is experienced in the federal criminal courts.
What Makes a Crime Federal?
Sometimes, there is overlap between state and federal crimes. In other words, the same action might possibly give rise to both state and federal charges. When that happens, the crime is usually prosecuted by the state.
The federal government typically has jurisdiction over crimes that:
- Are violations of federal criminal statutes
- Take place on federal property
- Are committed against an agent of the federal government
- Involve immigration or customs violations
- Cross state lines
For example, vandalism of a private residence or a local grocery store in Houston would be a state-level crime. But if the same defendant committed the same act of vandalism at a federal courthouse or a U.S. Postal Service location, the crime would be federal. Similarly, a local kidnapping would typically be strictly a state crime. But if a victim is kidnapped in Texas and transported to New Mexico, that would violate the federal kidnapping statute.
Some of the most commonly charged federal crimes are:
- Interstate drug trafficking
- Wire fraud
- Mail fraud
- Federal firearms violations
- Immigration fraud
- Criminal copyright infringement
- Debit or credit card fraud
- Child pornography
How Are Federal Criminal Charges Different?
Being charged with a federal crime is different from facing state-level criminal charges. Some of those differences directly impact the person facing charges. For example, the average Texas prison inmate serves less than 60% of his or her sentence. But in the federal system, “good time credit” is limited to 54 days a year, meaning that inmates serve at least 85% of their sentences. Similarly, because the federal prison system is nationwide, a person convicted of a federal crime may be assigned to a prison anywhere in the country — perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles from home.
Other differences may not be obvious to you but can have a big impact on your case. For instance, the federal criminal statute may be different from the state statute. That means what the government has to prove to secure a conviction may also be different. And the federal criminal courts use a different set of procedural rules, including rules of evidence.
In other words, it’s very important to work with an attorney who knows the federal criminal justice system.
How Quinones & Associates Can Help
At Quinones & Associates, we understand that federal criminal charges can impact every area of your life. We offer our clients not only our legal skills and knowledge but also our support through what can be a stressful and challenging time. We’ll be available to answer your questions, update you on your case, let you know what to expect next, and work to make sure you never feel alone or uncertain as we navigate your criminal case.