In Henrico County, Virginia, you are required to abide by Virginia state laws, as well as federal laws. Violating the law can result in state or federal criminal charges. You have no control regarding whether you are charged by a state or a federal prosecutor for an offense.
Unfortunately, federal offenses usually result in very serious consequences including lengthy prison sentences. Therefore, if you are being questioned by federal investigators or are charged with a federal offense, a Henrico County federal crimes lawyer can provide you with representation as you face your charges.
Federal courts are different than state courts, as there are different requirements and rules of procedure. Some attorneys who practice in the state of Virginia have not been admitted to the federal bar and cannot represent you if you are charged with a federal crime.
It is important to find a Henrico County criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending clients accused of federal crimes and who can provide you with strong legal advocacy and knowledgeable representation. Your lawyer can talk to the federal prosecutor on your behalf and, in some cases, may be able to help you negotiate a plea bargain so your charges are reduced or penalties more limited.
Our criminal defense team can also help you to try to keep illegally obtained evidence from being used, to get charges against you dropped, to raise defenses, or to introduce reasonable doubt about whether you are guilty of a federal offense.
Most offenses are prosecuted under state law because the US Constitution gives the states primary authority to regulate behavior within their borders. However, if you violate federal rules, you can sometimes be charged by a US Attorney even if you never left Virginia when you committed the offense.
The United States Code addresses crimes and criminal procedure in Title 18. Part I of this federal code section details what behaviors constitute crimes, while the remaining parts of Title 18 address things like the procedure for criminal trials; prisons and treatments of prisoners; and corrections of youth offenders.
There are more than 100 different Chapters in the Title 18 Part I list of federal crimes. These Chapters address:
In order for you to be indicted for a federal felony, a U.S. attorney must convene a grand jury. The grand jury will hear evidence presented by the prosecutor and may subpoena witnesses and other evidence such as weapons, videos, and documents. If the grand jury hands down an indictment, the federal case against you will proceed and go to trial.
At trial a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed all of the elements of the criminal offense. For First Degree murder, for example, the prosecutor must prove you committed murder with malice aforethought. Essentially, this means you planned ahead to maliciously and unlawfully cause the death of another human being. Poisoning someone or lying in wait to kill someone can result in First Degree murder charges.
If a prosecutor can prove your guilt, you will face penalties based on the specific criminal offense you have been convicted of. There are many federal laws that have mandatory minimum sentences. This means if you are convicted of this crime, you will go to jail for at least a minimum number of years regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
One example of a crime resulting in a mandatory minimum sentence is the sex trafficking of a child under age 14 through the use of fraud, force, or coercion. Under 18 United States Code Section 1591, the mandatory minimum prison term for this offense is 15 years.
Regardless of whether mandatory minimum sentences apply to your offense, Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide guidance during the sentencing phase and suggest the number of months or years you should be incarcerated for a particular criminal act.
The Sentencing Guidelines take into account the offense committed; aggravating factors or extenuating circumstances; and your criminal history. Applying the guidelines is no longer mandatory, but judges still consult with and rely on these guidelines to impose prison sentences. The sentences set forth under these guidelines, unfortunately, are often lengthy.
Federal laws allow for a defendant to be sentenced to as long as life in prison for certain offenses. The federal government also allows for capital punishment, so you could be sentenced to death if convicted of certain federal crimes.
To learn more about how a Henrico County federal crimes lawyer can help you, call today. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine the best course of action for your specific case and give you guidance on how to proceed. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about what our firm can do for you.
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