If you face federal charges, you need to be in the hands of the best Washington DC federal criminal attorney available. An experienced federal criminal attorney is able to take decisive actions to help you avoid the charges against you rather than face the possibility of conviction in a federal courtroom. By making sure you have the most experienced trial proven attorney in the D.C. area, you can be confident that your legal team will create a strategy to quickly resolve any unexpected legal issues that arise.
Unfortunately, there is always the potential for unexpected legal issues to surface during a federal criminal case. The following are six potential issues that could occur in the case of a federal crime.
Evidence Obtained by Illegal Means
During an investigation, the prosecution must ensure that they are acting within the guidelines established by the U.S. Constitution. This also applies to all federal agents on the prosecutor’s investigative team. If, during the investigation, the prosecution’s actions violate the constitutional rights of the suspect or defendant, any evidence obtained through such means may be considered to be obtained illegally. Evidence obtained illegally is often inadmissible, but it is up to the defense to provide proof and request its removal. An inexperienced defense attorney may miss this opportunity.
Disputing Allegations of Conspiracy
Federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, allows for the prosecution of a defendant without having committed a substantive offense. This statute, along with many other federal statutes, hold provisions for a conspiracy charge. This means that although an actual crime was not committed, you can still face imprisonment or sizable fines. Given the range of statutes that include conspiracy provisions, they are among the most widely used tools for the prosecution. This tool is often used to prosecute fraud cases such as mail and wire fraud or Medicare and Healthcare fraud. A federal district court may decide that the prosecution of a case is warranted based on the argument that the defendant was party to an agreement to commit a crime or that an overt act was made toward commissioning a crime.
Allegations of Attempt to Commit a Crime
Federal law holds that those under investigation by federal authorities can be charged with an attempt to commit a crime if substantial evidence of the crime having been completed is missing. The penalties in these cases may be similar to those where there is evidence that a crime was committed. To avoid potential attempt charges, an experienced legal defense team will need to ensure that counsel does not employ a defense strategy that can leave them open to prosecution for attempting to commit a thwarted crime.
Laying Additional Charges
As part of a federal criminal prosecution, agents for the federal government will often file charges under statutes that target substantive offenses such as wire fraud, along with statutes that act committed in conjunction or to further a specific criminal act. These additional charges can add substantial penalties to existing charges. The federal criminal defense attorney must anticipate any such actions on behalf of the prosecution and have a strategy in place to combat them. In cases such as money laundering or mail fraud, the defendant can face multiple charges since the statute’s language is so broad that nearly any criminal behavior can trigger prosecution under the statute. The language of most fraud statutes on healthcare and security fraud cases includes language broad enough to allow for multiple federal charges under the same statute.
Testimony by Informants or Co-Conspirators
An additional issue to keep in mind in defending cases in federal criminal courts is the opportunity for federal prosecutors and investigators to acquire testimony from a confidential informant or a person alleged to be a co-conspirator. The testimony of someone who has a personal stake in the outcome will need to be shown as prejudiced and invalid by the defense team. The issue of duress in these situations, whether by co-conspirators or an outsider, is also something to consider.
Guidelines for Determining Sentencing
Federal sentencing guidelines, although not binding, serve an advisory role in federal litigation. They are extremely influential in most federal sentencing procedures, and prosecutors and judicial members often rely on them to determine penalties in cases that result in a conviction.
Founder / Partner
Mr. Dennis Boyle is an accomplished white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation attorney who practices throughout the United States and internationally.