Federal Practice

Defending People Accused of Crimes Against the United States

Crimes against the United States are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and are charged and prosecuted in the United States District Courts. If you are being investigated by a federal agency or have been indicted or subpoenaed by a federal Grand Jury, there are important things you should know about the differences between federal and state criminal prosecutions. Completely different laws apply with different rules, different courts and different procedures.

One of the most crucial differences between federal and state prosecutions is that your exposure to a harsh prison sentence is far greater in federal court. Sentencing in federal court is governed by the "Federal Sentencing Guidelines", a document published by the United States Sentencing Commission.

The thing to keep in mind about the guidelines is that they represent the political climate in Washington, D.C., where politicians compete with each other to appear "tough on crime". Don't expect to find any legislator lobbying on behalf of criminal defendants in order to minimize penalties. Federal judges are not required to follow the sentencing recommendations found in the guidelines, but in practice, they usually do.

Why is this important? The guidelines are harsh. Guidelines sentences are so severe that federal judges have gone on the record criticizing them for their drastic and disproportionate effects. Federal criminal prosecutions are heavily influenced by the guidelines, and you will find that negotiations in these cases often center on reaching an acceptable guidelines calculation before entering a plea.

Because of the severity of the sentencing guidelines, far fewer defendants are willing to risk going to trial and take the chance of going to a federal prison for 20 to 30 years. Federal prosecutors are experts at charging multiple defendants and then turning them against each other, resulting in a "race to the courthouse" to see who can cut a deal first. It's critical that your federal criminal defense attorney be intimately familiar with this environment and know how to navigate it.

Your Federal Case Will Be Prosecuted By Tough Adversaries

Another important difference between federal and state prosecutions is the overall level of professionalism and expertise found in the United States Attorney's Office. Standards are just not the same in state prosecutor's offices, where any law school graduate can apply and start working as a Rule 9 Intern even before graduating from law school.

The United States Attorney's Office draws from top graduates of the top law schools in the nation and many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA's) begin distinguished national political careers from this launching point. Make no mistake about it — if you are facing a federal criminal prosecution, you will have an army of the nation's best and brightest lawyers working with the breathtaking resources of the FBI and other federal agencies against you.

Get the Experienced Defense You Need When It Matters Most

Don't go into this battle without a seasoned criminal practitioner who is comfortable and experienced in this realm. I have been licensed to practice in the federal courts since 1977. Federal cases have made up a substantial part of my criminal defense practice throughout my career. If you have any reason to believe that you are being investigated by a federal law enforcement agency, contact the Law Office of Robert Perez immediately.