WHAT IS A FEDERAL CRIME?
Federal crimes consist of criminal conduct that violates the laws of the United States, as opposed to a state crime, which is a violation of the laws of a specific state. Many different federal law enforcement agencies investigate federal crimes and are most commonly prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, acting under the vast power of the Department of Justice. The Rossen Law Firm is based in the federal Southern District of Florida and zealously defends individuals facing federal investigations and prosecutions throughout Florida and the United States.
Federal crimes often involve conduct that crosses state or international borders. Federal criminal laws can fall under many categories: fraud crimes, white-collar crimes, sex crimes, drug crimes, violent crimes, and more. Federal crimes are often those that cause harm to a federal government program, such as Medicare or the federal banking system. Most serious financial crimes bring federal exposure, often involving fraud against a government agency or financial institution.
Even if the crime you commit is not a federal law violation, per se, you still may face federal charges depending on where the crime occurred. Any crime that occurs when crossing state lines can warrant federal charges. Additionally, even if a client doesn’t physically cross state borders, any crime that does can still be a federal offense. For example, if a person in one state solicits investors in another state as part of a fraudulent investment scheme or if a person in one state ships narcotics to an individual in another state, federal jurisdiction may be invoked.
COMMON EXAMPLES OF FEDERAL CRIMES
Common examples of federal crimes that the Rossen Law Firm federal attorneys specialize in defending include:
- Wire Fraud: Under U.S. federal law, Wire fraud is a financial crime involving interstate telecommunications or information technology to carry out fraudulent activity. The consequences for a federal wire fraud conviction are severe. If found guilty, the result may be up to 20 years in federal prison, fines of up to $250,000 for individuals, and up to $500,000 for organizations. A person may also face forfeiture of their assets or their loved one’s assets in certain circumstances.
- Healthcare Fraud: Federal healthcare fraud typically involves deceptive practices that result in unauthorized benefits from health insurance providers, especially those funded by the federal government, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The crime includes overbilling, billing for services not rendered, misrepresenting services provided, and falsifying a patient’s diagnosis to justify tests, surgeries, or other procedures that aren’t medically necessary. The penalties for healthcare fraud are severe. They can include substantial fines, restitution, asset forfeiture, and imprisonment. For example, under the Federal Health Care Fraud statute (18 U.S.C. § 1347), the potential penalties include fines and up to 10 years in prison or up to 20 years if the fraud results in serious bodily injury. Even worse, the federal government will almost always charge an individual with offenses that carry severe penalties, including wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy (by itself or as a conspiracy to commit wire fraud or conspiracy to money laundering, which carries increased penalties.)
- Bank Fraud: Bank Fraud involves misusing and violating financial institution laws for criminal activity and personal gain. Bank Fraud has become increasingly prevalent in South Florida, and around the country, during the pandemic due to the unprecedented amount of federal funding offered in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Bank fraud penalties include up to 30 years in federal prison and fines of up to $1,000,000.
- Drug Trafficking: Federal drug trafficking is illegally transporting or transacting controlled substances. Under federal law, Title 21, Section 841 makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a federally controlled substance. There are specific penalties for each type of drug, which are very severe and vary based on the quantity of the drug, and in some cases, the quality or purity of the drug. Almost every federal drug trafficking conviction can result in very lengthy prison sentences and very often involves a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
- Child Pornography: Federal law broadly prohibits various acts related to the distribution, transportation (including by shipping or mailing), importation, receipt, and possession of child pornography, including attempted acts and conspiracies to commit such acts. Federal jurisdiction is implicated if the child pornography offense occurred in interstate or foreign commerce. If convicted of a child pornography offense, a person may face harsher penalties based on the number of images or videos, if the imagery is violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature, or if there are prior convictions for sex offenses.
- Firearms Offenses: Many offenses regarding the possession, purchasing, selling, and transportation of firearms can constitute a federal offense. For example, purchasing a firearm for another person illegally is known as “straw purchasing” and often falls under federal jurisdiction. Straw purchasing is a federal crime since committing the offense involves making a false statement to a federally licensed firearm dealer on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473. Being a felon in possession of a firearm manufactured outside of the United States, or possibly outside of your home state of residence can constitute a federal crime. Penalties include lengthy prison sentences and fines.
- Conspiracy: Many federal crimes are prosecuted under a “conspiracy” theory. The accused in conspiracy cases can be held accountable for both their acts and the acts of others involved in the conspiracy. This is true even if your alleged participation in a conspiracy was minor compared to other members and even if you never met other members of the alleged conspiracy. Additionally, only the plan to commit a federal offense is required for the government to prosecute someone for a conspiracy, and it is often irrelevant to a conspiracy charge whether or not the planned criminal act was completed. The penalties for being convicted as a conspirator are often the same as if you committed the crime, and you can be held equally liable with every member of the conspiracy regardless of your role.
Federal defense attorneys also specialize in handling the investigation phase of the federal criminal justice system. With a deep understanding of federal criminal law and extensive experience representing clients at all stages of the federal process, our attorneys specialize in navigating the intricate federal criminal investigations process.
Federal criminal investigations are conducted by various federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Human Health Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
A federal criminal investigation typically begins long before charges are formally filed. In many cases, individuals may not even know they are under investigation until they are contacted by federal agents or receive a grand jury subpoena, a target letter, a search warrant is executed on a property or at a place of business, or there is a visit from a federal agent with the intent to questions a suspect. This makes it critically important to secure legal counsel as early as possible if you suspect you may be under federal scrutiny.
FEDERAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY IN SOUTH FLORIDA
The federal criminal defense attorneys at the Rossen Law Firm overturn every stone when building a defense against the United States Government. If you’re looking for a skilled, award-winning federal criminal lawyer in South Florida – you’re in the right place.
The attorneys at Rossen Law Firm have the expertise and experience to handle any type of federal case or investigation effectively. By offering unique, fresh, and aggressive defense tactics, the lawyers are not afraid to stand up to the Government, and protect individuals’ rights. Their attorneys understand the complex and nuanced nature of the federal criminal justice system, its charges, penalties, and various defense strategies, allowing our clients to navigate the legal system with supreme confidence.
If you or a loved one is under federal investigation or facing a federal criminal charge, do not hesitate to contact the Rossen Law Firm for a free and confidential strategy session.