Wyoming Federal Defense Lawyer
Standing Up for Clients Charged With a Federal Crime
Being charged with a federal crime can be an overwhelming situation. A conviction often means harsh penalties and prison time. However, if you are still under investigation or have been charged but have not gone to trial, you may still have a fighting chance to secure a better outcome for your case. However, you need to act fast and hire a strong federal criminal defense lawyer to maximize your chances of having your sentence reduced or even getting your case dismissed.
The legal team at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense explains how federal crime cases work, what to expect, and why reaching out to an attorney may be in your best interest. If you are facing criminal charges in Wyoming, call Cowboy Country Criminal Defense at 307-333-7884.
What Constitutes a Federal Crime?
Federal crimes are criminal offenses that violate U.S. federal laws and thus are prosecuted by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. A federal offense can vary in severity from white-collar crimes such as counterfeiting to violent capital crimes such as murder. It is not uncommon for federal crimes to involve large-scale or interstate activities, such as drug trafficking across state borders.
Common examples of federal crimes include bank fraud, tax fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering, computer crimes, weapons offenses, drug trafficking, and even terrorism. Federal crimes can carry significant penalties, which may include hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. Some federal crimes can also be prosecuted under state laws, but the penalties are usually more severe for a federal offense.
What Are the Possible Consequences of Being Convicted of a Federal Crime?
Federal sentencing guidelines take into account a variety of factors, such as the nature and severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating factors. Penalties for a federal criminal conviction often include sizable fines, restitution, probation, or imprisonment. For example, someone convicted of bank fraud can face up to 30 years in prison and may have to pay a fine of up to $1 million, even if this is their first offense. A person convicted of federal drug trafficking can face a prison sentence of 5 to 40 years and a fine of up to $10 million, with repeat offenses potentially leading to a life sentence. Gun crimes can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Other federal crimes that may be punishable by life imprisonment or even the death sentence include murder, espionage, and terrorism. In addition, a federal conviction can have other long-term consequences, such as loss of gun rights and limited employment opportunities.
What Are the Differences Between Federal and State Crimes?
As mentioned previously, federal crimes are criminal offenses that violate U.S. federal laws and are prosecuted by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. Examples of federal crimes include bank fraud, tax fraud, counterfeiting, and money laundering. Federal crimes typically carry more severe penalties than state crimes, with larger fines and longer prison sentences.
State crimes, on the other hand, are criminal offenses that violate state or local laws and are prosecuted by state or local law enforcement agencies. Certain state criminal offenses, such as drug trafficking, may become a federal crime if the criminal acts cross state borders or involve individuals in other states. Common examples of state crimes include burglary, theft, and assault, which may be punishable by fines, imprisonment in a county jail or state prison, or both.
What Should I Do if I Suspect I Am Under Investigation for a Federal Crime?
If you have reasons to believe that you may be under investigation by the federal government and could be taken into custody for federal criminal charges, you should act quickly and reach out to a federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you have not been arrested yet, your attorney can start working on your case and help you protect your constitutional rights.
For example, your federal criminal lawyer may advise you not to give any statements to law enforcement and exercise your right to remain silent, being careful not to say anything that can be used to make things worse. Your attorney may also warn you not to allow federal agents to conduct searches in your home, vehicle, or place of business without presenting a warrant. If charges are pressed against you, your attorney can help conduct negotiations with the prosecutor and help you decide whether to accept a plea bargain or to take your chances and go to trial.
Do Federal Charges Have a Statute of Limitations?
In the United States, federal criminal charges are subject to a legal deadline for prosecution. This legal deadline is referred to as a statute of limitations and gives the government up to five years to press charges against a defendant. In other words, if an individual is suspected of committing a federal offense, the government has a maximum period of five years to prosecute them. After this time period, federal prosecutors may be barred from taking any legal action against the accused.
This means that if the government fails to charge the suspect within the five-year window, they may not be able to pursue the case any further. It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for federal crimes can vary depending on the nature of the offense and may be extended in some cases.
It is important to consider that, as time passes, the task of gathering appropriate evidence for a defendant’s defense strategy becomes more complex. It is not uncommon for witnesses to move away, change their contact information, or pass away, making it hard to reach them and obtain their testimonies. In addition, memories of events that took place in the past may fade and become contradicting and less reliable, and crucial pieces of material evidence may degrade, go missing, or get destroyed, making it impossible to reconstruct the scene of the crime or the accident accurately.
If the government deliberately waits too long to file federal criminal charges, it may be exponentially more difficult or even impossible for a defendant to build a defense strategy and have a fair chance of gathering sufficient evidence to support their case. The statute of limitations is meant to help ensure that an accused party has a fair opportunity to defend themselves.
However, it is worth mentioning that not every federal crime has a statute of limitations. Those charged with extremely violent and heinous crimes, such as capital murder, treason, terrorism, or espionage, have no legal expiration. An individual charged with a capital crime can be prosecuted anytime, no matter how many years have passed since the offense took place.
What Are Some Possible Defense Strategies for a Federal Crime Charge?
If you are facing criminal charges at a federal level, it is crucial to take action and contact a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can conduct an independent investigation of your charges, analyze the evidence presented against you, and devise an appropriate defense strategy for your case.
Certain defense strategies are commonly used in many types of criminal cases, such as questioning the validity of the prosecution’s evidence and proving that the evidence should be inadmissible because it is the result of an illegal search that violates your constitutional rights. In contrast, certain strategies are unique to federal criminal cases. A federal criminal defense attorney may use a variety of defense strategies before and during a trial, such as pre-trial defenses or affirmative defenses.
Pre Trial Defense Strategies
Common examples of pre-trial defense strategies may include pleading insanity, entrapment by estoppel, vindictive prosecution, and outrageous government conduct. In order to plead insanity, the defendant must demonstrate that they did not have the ability to understand that their actions were wrong due to diminished mental capacity. Entrapment by estoppel is when a person is actively misled by a government official, meaning the government official makes the person believe that the activity they are engaging in is legal and is not a criminal activity.
Vindictive prosecution is when a defendant claims to be the target of punishment by the prosecution for exercising their constitutional rights. It can be considered a form of discrimination and can happen if, for example, the prosecution charges the defendant with a new criminal offense after a mistrial declaration.
Outrageous government conduct is sometimes referred to as due process defense and happens when a government agency obtains incriminating evidence against a defendant in a manner that violates the defendant’s constitutional right to due process. For example, if a government agency takes part in unethical or criminal conduct with the goal of getting a defendant to commit a crime in order to arrest that person, the defendant may have been unfairly denied the right to due process, and the criminal charge could end up being dismissed.
What Are Some Possible Affirmative Defense Strategies for Federal Crimes?
In addition to using pre-trial defenses in an effort to get a federal criminal case dismissed before it goes to trial, a federal defense lawyer may also choose to employ a variety of affirmative defenses at the trial stage. The goal of an affirmative defense is to reduce or eliminate the defendant’s criminal liability and reduce the severity of the charges and resulting penalties. Common affirmative defenses include presenting an alibi, duress and necessity, self-defense and defense of others and property, voluntary intoxication, and entrapment.
Affirmative Defense Strategies
An alibi is a defense strategy that can be used in a federal court when a defendant can present evidence proving that they were not present when the alleged criminal offense took place. In order for this strategy to be effective, the defendant must be prepared to present evidence, such as witnesses and proof that they were at a specific place different from the location of the alleged crime at the time the crime occurred.
Duress and necessity can be used if you can prove that you committed the crime because you were under duress due to the threat of violence or actual use of violence against you. Likewise, you may claim you committed the crime in response to an emergency situation, such as a clear and immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm that left you with no other alternative but to commit the crime.
Self-defense or the defense of others and defense of property can be used when a defendant can prove that their actions were in response to an immediate threat of death or bodily harm and that they only committed the crime in order to protect themselves or others from the imminent danger. The same strategy may be applied if the defendant committed the crime in response to an imminent threat to their property if, for example, another person was attempting to destroy, steal, or encroach upon the defendant’s property.
Voluntary intoxication is when the defendant alleges that they did not have the mental capacity to plan to commit a crime and thus lacked criminal intent because they were intoxicated at the time the alleged offense took place. Entrapment is when a defendant is coerced or pressured by a government authority to commit a crime that they otherwise would not likely have committed.
How Can a Federal Defense Attorney Help You if You Are Facing Charges?
Federal cases are complex, and those charged with a federal criminal offense may be looking at long prison sentences and astronomical fines. By working with an experienced federal criminal lawyer such as the ones at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, you will be giving yourself a chance to avoid the maximum sentence for your crime or even walk away without losing your freedom. If you are facing federal crime charges in Wyoming, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense at 307-333-7884 for a confidential case assessment.