Federal Criminal Lawyer Knoxville TN

Being charged with a federal crime means that the U.S. government is prosecuting you. Our federal criminal lawyer in Knoxville TN may be able to help.

Do You Need Federal Criminal Attorney if Facing Federal Charges?

Being prosecuted by the federal government can be frightening. Like every state has its own unique criminal justice system, the federal government also has its own set of laws that criminalize certain conduct.

There are differences between the state and federal systems that required particular expertise to effectively navigate.

Being prosecuted federally also usually means that a federal agency such as the FBI or ATF investigated and charged you, rather than a local law enforcement authority. In general, these investigations take longer, and federal prosecutor waits until they have gathered more evidence before arresting someone. However, once that charging decision is made, federal cases typically proceed more quickly because of federal speedy trial requirements.

In general, federal crimes involve significantly harsher penalties compared to state laws. As a result of these differences, defending federal criminal charges is complex and requires an attorney with experience in the federal system. Just because an attorney has state court experience does not mean that he or she will be successful in federal court.

Many attorneys are simply not qualified to handle federal criminal cases. That’s why it’s crucial to have a federal criminal defense attorney on your side who can strongly advocate for the proper application of the federal sentencing guidelines to ensure a correct sentence.

What Is Considered a Federal Offense?

Crimes under federal laws usually involve matters of national interest, offenses that cross state lines, such as drug trafficking, or occur on federal property. Just as federal crimes can involve violent crimes, such as kidnapping and homicide, they can also be nonviolent, like bank fraud and tax fraud.

In addition, certain crimes that are typically considered state crimes, such as drug possession or a DUI, can become federal crimes based on where the alleged criminal activity occurred. For example, crimes committed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will most likely result in federal charges, no matter how minor.

Federal Criminal Law and Potential Consequences

Federal prosecutors rarely file charges if they are not convinced they have assembled the best possible evidence. Once the federal investigation is over, and charges are filed, they pursue them aggressively. They are focused on getting a conviction, and the best possible outcome is an acquittal or dismissal of charges.

Federal crimes can be prosecuted as misdemeanor or felony charges. Federal misdemeanor offenses can result in up to a year in prison, with fines ranging from $5,000 up to $100,000. On the other hand, federal felony charges can range from one up to 25 years in prison or life imprisonment depending upon the seriousness of the offense. In addition, fines for federal felonies can range up to $250,000.

A federal criminal conviction can damage your reputation. If a potential employer or landlord requests a background check, the conviction will appear. That means it can hinder the defendant’s ability to find a desirable job or obtain housing.

What Is a Target Letter?

Many federal cases begin when you receive a “target letter” from the United States Attorney’s Office. The target letter informs you that a federal grand jury is investigating you for federal criminal violations. The letter will also say that the United States Attorney’s Office would like to discuss the matter with you and your attorney.

It will state that you need to schedule an appointment with the federal prosecutor as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

The letter will say that if the federal prosecutor does not receive a response within a certain time, the federal prosecutor will proceed forward with the grand jury’s investigation without the opportunity for you to present your side of the case.

The target letter means that the United States Attorney’s Office has already been investigating you – perhaps without your knowledge – and that they believe they have evidence that you have committed a federal crime.

Acting quickly to respond to this letter gives you the chance to get ahead of these charges. Your attorney can begin investigating your side of the case and building a defense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may be able to avoid federal charges against you in the first place by presenting information to the federal prosecutor.

In other federal investigation cases, you may not receive a target letter, but you are interviewed by a federal agent about a suspected crime. You may not be arrested, but that does not mean that the investigation is over and that charges are not coming later. Talk to an attorney quickly if you have any reason to think that State or Federal law enforcement is investigating you.

Charged with a Federal Offense?

Contact Our Knoxville Federal Crimes Lawyers

If you have been charged with a federal crime or worry that you might be facing federal criminal charges, the team of attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP can help you. We understand the intricacies of the federal criminal justice system and are familiar with the differences between state and federal law. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to discuss your situation

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