Los Angeles Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing federal criminal charges in Los Angeles, CA? Federal crimes carry serious penalties. A conviction will change the course of your life forever. Now is the time to stand up and fight for your future – and the Los Angeles federal crimes attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group are here to help.
Our attorneys are former prosecutors with decades of experience. Don’t give federal prosecutors any advantage. Contact our law firm for immediate assistance to level the playing field.
We will work diligently to protect your rights and secure the best possible result in your federal criminal case. Your first consultation with our team is free, so contact our Los Angeles law firm at (213) 995-6767 now.
- 1 How Can The Rodriguez Law Group Help With My Federal Crime Charges?
- 2 What is a Federal Crime?
- 3 What Are The Most Common Types of Federal Crimes In Los Angeles?
- 4 Federal Crimes vs. State Crimes
- 5 Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- 6 Adjustments to Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- 7 How Do California Federal Courts Differ From State Courts?
- 8 What Can I Expect From a Federal Arrest and the Prosecution Process in California?
- 9 Call a Los Angeles Federal Crimes Attorney Today
- 10 Areas We Serve
How Can The Rodriguez Law Group Help With My Federal Crime Charges?
Federal crime charges should be taken seriously. If you are convicted, the consequences could stay with you for the rest of your life. It may become difficult to obtain housing or employment even after you’ve already gone through the penalties levied by the criminal justice system.
When the stakes are this high, you’ll want a strong Los Angeles criminal defense attorney in your corner. If you hire The Rodriguez Law Group, our highly-experienced legal team can help with your case by:
- Launching an internal investigation into your case and the merits of the prosecution’s case against you
- Keeping you apprised of your legal options as your case proceeds
- Collecting any available exculpatory evidence
- Negotiating with the prosecution to, if possible, have your charges reduced or dropped
- Protecting your rights and interests throughout the life of your case
To get started, reach out to us today to speak with an experienced Los Angeles federal crimes attorney.
What is a Federal Crime?
Any crime which violates a United States federal law may be considered a federal crime.
Federal crimes can be investigated by a variety of federal agencies such as:
- The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation);
- The IRS (Internal Revenue Service);
- The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and
- The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).
Federal investigations typically take months prior to formal charges being filed. Once federal charges are actually filed, it can be difficult for even the most experienced attorney to “catch up” to the months or years of a federal investigation.
Because of this, those who are contacted by federal investigators should take immediate action by contacting a Los Angeles federal criminal defense attorney. Even if it is not entirely clear whether you are being contacted as a suspect or a witness, don’t wait, hoping it is the latter.
In many cases, early intervention by an experienced federal defense attorney can actually prevent an indictment. Because federal resources for such investigations can be virtually unlimited, having a skilled advocate on the case is crucial to your future.
What Are The Most Common Types of Federal Crimes In Los Angeles?
There are any number of federal crimes which we defend against.
- Mail fraud
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
- Child pornography
- Drug trafficking crimes
- Bank robbery
- Federal gun offenses
- Counterfeiting charges
- Bank, bankruptcy, or wire fraud
- Conspiracy charges
- Identity theft
- Insider trading
- Bank fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Hacking allegations
Federal Crimes vs. State Crimes
The vast majority of criminal prosecutions are for violations of state laws, and are prosecuted in a state court. Crimes such as rape, burglary, robbery, theft, arson, and murder are examples of criminal violations of state laws. There are federal criminal laws, passed by Congress that are, in theory, tied to a federal or national issue (federal tax fraud, any crime committed on federal property, or interstate contraband trafficking, as examples).
Some crimes can be prosecuted under federal or state law—or both.
Some instances in which the federal government has jurisdiction over a criminal act include:
- Criminal acts in which a defendant physically crosses state lines, when the conduct crosses state lines such as in illegal Internet crimes;
- Any criminal act occurring on federal land or involving federal officers;
- Violations of immigration such as international human trafficking, and
- Customs violations such as importing child pornography.
The President of the United States appoints federal judges for life, while state judges are elected. States crimes are investigated by local law enforcement and prosecuted by state district attorneys.
Federal crimes are prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorneys. Federal court cases generally take much longer to resolve than state cases.
While relatively rare, a crime can be prosecuted in both federal and state court with no violation of double jeopardy. As an example, a California state jury acquitted four LAPD officers of the Rodney King beating in 1992, then a federal court later convicted two of those officers.
Federal penalties tend to be much more severe than state penalties, particularly for drug crimes.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Because of the potentially harsh penalties associated with a conviction for a federal crime, it is particularly important that you have a Los Angeles federal defense attorney who has a comprehensive knowledge of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Familiarity with the federal court system as well as an understanding of what can be asked for on behalf of his or her client is crucial to a more positive outcome.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines, found under 18 U.S. Code §3553, are intended to provide federal judges with consistent sentencing ranges, based on how serious the crime was as well as the individual offender’s criminal history and characteristics. Any federal judge who chooses to deviate from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines must be able to explain that choice.
Levels of Offenses & Criminal History
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines include:
- 43 levels of offenses
- 6 criminal history categories.
Criminal history is based on the extent of the defendant’s criminal record and how recent other crimes were committed.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines “table” will show a point where that offense level and criminal history intersect, and this will determine the range of penalties.
As an example, the highest level of criminal offense is assigned the highest number, therefore, first-degree, premeditated murder would have a base offense level of 43. This base level number will then have specific offense characteristics and adjustments subtracted from it, to reach a final offense level.
Each offense carries a number of specific offense characteristics which can raise or lower the offense level, plus there are adjustments related to the offender’s role in the offense and victim-related adjustments which will increase or decrease the offense level.
Acceptance of Responsibility
The final step in arriving at an offense level under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines is the offender’s acceptance of responsibility. A judge may decrease the offense by two levels, if the offender truthfully admitted his or her role in the crime, pled guilty, or made restitution prior to a guilty verdict.
After determining the criminal offense level, the second element is the offender’s criminal record which is assigned to one of six criminal history categories (1 for those with the least serious criminal record or a first-time offender, all the way to 6 for those with a significant criminal history).
As you can see, determining a federal sentence can be extremely complex, and best faced with an experienced attorney who can work from the beginning to potentially minimize that sentence, have the charges dismissed entirely, or litigate a “not guilty” verdict.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Some federal crimes are subject to mandatory minimum sentences. This means that a court must impose certain penalties when a defendant is convicted of one of these crimes. In 2020, about 25.% of all cases reported to the US Sentencing Commission were subject to a mandatory minimum punishment. Three-quarters of those crimes were drug-related.
Mandatory minimum sentences can be triggered based on:
- Certain characteristics or elements of a crime (e.g., use of a weapon, characteristics of the victim)
- Another underlying offense, (e.g., defendant faces multiple charges, one of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence); or
- The defendant’s criminal history (e.g., Three Strikes Law)
Penalties can exceed mandatory minimums (and often do), but they can’t be less harsh.
Adjustments to Federal Sentencing Guidelines
If there are any aggravating—or mitigating—circumstances which might not have been taken into consideration by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, a federal judge is allowed to impose a sentence which is above or below the guideline range.
The reasons for such a departure, however, must be stated by the judge, in writing, and can be appealed by the offender (for an upward departure) or by the government (for a downward departure).
An offender who has provided assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another offender, may qualify for a “substantial assistance” downward departure from the sentence determined under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The sentencing classification of offenses is found under 18 U.S. Code §3559.
Other Issues Associated with a Federal Crime
Offenders charged with a federal crime have the right to an impartial jury, and this is an issue you will want to discuss with your attorney. As your attorney knows, a jury can often make or break a case.
Jurors can have a wide array of life experiences, however, in some instances a particular group could be over or under-represented in a jury pool, offering a potential challenge. Another issue to discuss with your lawyer is your criminal detention hearing.
If you have been charged with a drug crime carrying a potential sentence of years, any offense which has a potential sentence of life in prison or death, any offense which involved a violent crime, or if the U.S. state attorney feels there is a flight risk, detention may be requested.
A detention request must be made at your initial appearance, then a hearing will be held 3-5 days later.
There are four factors a federal judge will look at when determining whether you will be released while your case is pending, including:
- The evidence against you;
- The nature and circumstances of the alleged offense;
- Your criminal history, character, employment, financial resources, physical and mental condition, length of time you have resided in the community, family ties, history of drug or alcohol abuse and record of appearance at court proceedings, and
- The potential for danger to any person or the community if you were released.
The stakes are high when you’re charged with a criminal offense. Don’t try to defend yourself against these serious accusations. An attorney with experience in federal criminal court can help you work toward the best result for your particular case.
How Do California Federal Courts Differ From State Courts?
There are a number of similarities and differences between federal courts and state courts in California that are worth highlighting here.
For instance, they are structured similarly. At the state level, there are Trial Courts (Superior Courts), Courts of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. Meanwhile, at the federal level, there are Trial Courts (U.S. District Courts), U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). State court cases are prosecuted by District Attorneys (such as Los Angeles District Attorneys), and federal court cases are prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys within the Department of Justice.
There are many more state courts in California than there are federal courts, however. There are four federal District Courts and one federal Court of Appeals, while there are 58 state Superior Courts and six state Courts of Appeals. SCOTUS is located in Washington, DC, while the California Supreme Court holds regular sessions in various cities throughout the state, including Los Angeles.
Federal courts can only hear a limited set of issues. Federal courts can hear two broad categories of cases: federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. Federal question jurisdiction comes into play when the case regards either the federal government, the US Constitution, or federal laws. Diversity jurisdiction cases appear when the parties involved in the case are from different states or countries.
For more information regarding the differences between federal and state courts in California, reach out to The Rodriguez Law Group or visit this webpage published by the state.
What Can I Expect From a Federal Arrest and the Prosecution Process in California?
The federal arrest and prosecution process is similar to the California state arrest and prosecution process. The steps in the process will look something like this, although they will vary depending on the facts and circumstances involved in your specific situation:
- Plea Bargaining
- Preliminary Hearings
- Pretrial Motions
- Post-Trial Motions
These are largely the same steps that take place during the state prosecution process. There are differences throughout regarding certain details, however. For one, federal law will apply instead of state law for things like sentencing guidelines. As another example, the arrest may be handled by federal law enforcement instead of the appropriate local police department.
When you hire the Los Angeles federal criminal defense attorneys with The Rodriguez Law Group, we’ll represent your interests throughout the entirety of your case. We will also keep you informed of your legal options so that you won’t be caught off-guard by the proceedings. Call today to schedule a free consultation.
Call a Los Angeles Federal Crimes Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a federal crime, or you suspect you may be charged with a federal crime, time is of the essence. Federal criminal charges can be the most serious in the United States, and you need a federal crimes attorney who is capable of dealing with such aggressive opponents.
Our criminal defense lawyers will ensure all constitutional requirements are fully met if there is a search of your property.
In the case of white-collar federal crimes, we may be able to obtain a pre-indictment settlement that allows you to pay restitution and potentially avoid incarceration. Experience is key in federal criminal cases as well as an attorney who understands your future is at stake. With highly individualized attention to your case, you can count on aggressive legal representation and tireless attention to your rights and your freedom.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm also provides:
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