Federal Investigative Agencies and Prosecutors in Virginia
There are several reasons why being charged with a federal crime can be far more daunting than being charged with a state crime. The first is that the penalties for federal crimes can be harsher than their state equivalents.
However, the primary reason federal charges can be so intimidating is because of the abundance of expertise and resources at the disposal of the federal government. There are two major components to this: federal investigative agencies and federal prosecutors.
Federal Investigative Agencies
Federal investigative agencies are designed to target very specific charges. Moreover, they have vast amounts of resources — including advanced equipment, manpower, and information — available to aid them in their investigations. Although there are a number of federal agencies that investigate crimes, there are several agencies that are most frequently encountered by people charged with federal crimes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
As is quite evident in its name, the FBI was deliberately designed to excel at investigating federal crimes. According to the FBI website, although the FBI has jurisdiction “over more than 200 categories of federal law,” they primarily investigate:
- Cyber Crime
- Public Corruption
- Civil Rights
- Organized Crime
- White-Collar Crime
- Violent Crimes and Major Thefts
To understand the scope of resources available to the FBI, consider that in 2013 they had 35,344 employees. Although these employees are divided into various divisions and offices, large operations or investigations can include dozens or hundreds of agents working together. Moreover, the agency’s budget in 2014 was $8.3 billion, according to their website.
When you are facing charges brought by a federal prosecutor as a result of an FBI investigation, it is imperative to have a federal criminal lawyer who will have the resources, skills, and experience to evaluate all the evidence and develop a strong defense for you and your freedom.
The Internal Revenue Service
We all know about the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service is the federal agency in charge of tax collection and tax law enforcement. For most people the extent of their relationship with the IRS is the annual filing of taxes on or before April 15th. Nonetheless, tax collection is just one of this agency’s responsibilities.
Enforcement of tax law requires investigative resources such as technology, expertise, information, and manpower. One arm of the agency, Criminal Investigation (CI), is solely dedicated to criminal enforcement of certain tax and related financial laws. The IRS has substantial investigative experience and procedures designed to track down people it believes criminally violated tax law. The IRS will investigate and collect evidence until it recommends the Department of Justice to prosecute an individual.
If you are charged with tax evasion or tax fraud, you will likely be up against both a federal prosecutor and the IRS. For this reason, it is vital that you contact a federal criminal defense lawyer who has the knowledge, experience, and resources to defend you. It is in your best interest to contact a federal criminal attorney with knowledge of complex financial transactions, one who can go head-to-head with the government’s forensic accountants.
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, is the federal investigative agency responsible for criminal and civil violations of the Controlled Substances Act and other controlled substances laws and regulation. DEA cases require extensive investigation and tend to have national or regional scope. The entire agency is designed to investigate and prepare cases for prosecution. Furthermore, the DEA coordinates considerably with state and local law enforcement.
If you believe you are being investigated by or have been charged by the DEA, please contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer with experience handling federal drug offenses.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is a federal agency designed to investigate criminal violations, including, but not limited to:
- Unlawful trafficking of firearms
- Unlawful use of firearms
- Use of explosives
- Illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco
- Criminal organizations
Similar to the other investigative agencies we’ve discussed, the ATF has significant resources and coordination with state and local law enforcement. In particular, the ATF enforces federal firearm violations. These violations, though they might be minor state offenses, are often accompanied by hefty fines and harsh prison terms.
Going Against Federal Prosecutors
Although the investigative resources and expertise of federal agencies can be daunting in their own right, another major factor that distinguishes state and federal criminal cases is the US Attorney’s Office. Federal criminal offenses are prosecuted by lawyers from the US Attorney’s Office, and they are considered to be fierce and skilled.
There are 93 United States Attorneys across the nation, representing the government in cases in the federal court system. There is a United States Attorney in each of the 94 federal districts, except Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — which share one US Attorney. These federal prosecutors are appointed by the president (with the advice and consent of the Senate.)
If you have been charged with a federal crime, your prosecution will be handled by the US Attorney’s Office in the district where the crime occurred (there are two in VA: the Western District of Virginia and the Eastern District of Virginia). You need a federal criminal attorney who has experience litigating against a federal prosecutor. Call our firm today if you have any questions.