Houston Federal Criminal Lawyer
Charged with a federal crime?
Federal crimes are illegal criminal acts as defined by the U.S. federal law. Other than the three mentioned in the U.S. Constitution (counterfeiting, piracy, and treason) they are generally defined by statutes as contained within Title 18 of the United States Code. However, there are literally thousands upon thousands of federal criminal laws spread out throughout the statutory and regulatory body of federal law. During the 1990's, the American Bar Association had difficulty counting them all. And the numbers continue to grow. More disturbingly, an increasing number do not require a criminal intent by the accused.
Generally, federal crimes include offenses that occur on federal property such as military bases, Indian reservations, federal buildings and the U.S. Post Office and crimes arising from the federal government's power under the commerce clause. Federal investigations of one matter may be expansive and lead to charges seemingly unrelated to the initial scope of investigation.
Some acts may be crimes under both federal and state laws. As a result of federalism and the "seperate sovereign" doctrine, someone may be prosecuted in both state and federal court for the same conduct. As a general rule, state prosecutors will often cease their prosecution if someone is charged in federal court. At the same time, many federal prosecutors will let the state handle crimes that they determine are not the best use of their limited resources. There are many factors that may affect these decisions including the suspect's criminal history, the amount of money involved, whether the person is a member of a criminal organization or a gang, the available resources of the state prosecutors, and if the alleged crimes encompass the use of wires, mail, or acts across state and international borders. Some examples of common crimes that may be prosecuted in state or federal court include bank fraud, other frauds, drug crimes, felon in possession of firearms, and internet crimes including child pornography.
Federal court is very different from Texas state court and the procedure in obtaining pre-trial release and discovery are not the same at all and both pre-trial proceedings and sentencing are almost unrecognizable to those unexperienced in federal work. For example Pre-trial release is determined at a bail or detention hearing, and if granted, may require the posting of no bail or a cash deposit secured by signature documents. The role of bail bondsman is significantly dimished in federal court and pre-trial release is often much less expensive for the accused. On the other hand, there is a presumption of detention for certain crimes that is difficult to rebut and requires putting evidence on at the hearing.
Unlike local state courts, the right to speedy trial is taken very seriously and literally. Defendant's in federal Court are typically arraigned within a few days of arrest and often at the detention hearing. At that time, a scheduling order is entered by the U.S. Magistrate or U.S. District Judge setting specific deadlines for pre-trial motions, responses, and trial. Often the parties have to move for a continuance and new docket control order in an attempt to conduct discovery and negotiate. Federal indictments are often long and fact specific providing more notice to the defendant of the allegtions than state pleadings. The process for discovery is also very different and the rights of the accused are not as broad as they are in State court.
If you are accused of a federal crime, it is very important that you contact a lawyer who is experienced in federal criminal cases to advise and represent you. It is even better never to be charged at all.
Are you under federal investigation?
Federal charges are often not a surprise - particularly in white collar cases. Regulators and federal agents often investigate for years before cases are presented to a grand jury. The targets of their investigation may have been interviewed by federal agents not realizing that if they are not the target, they could become one very quickly. What may seem as a harmless meeting with federal employees, agents, or officials may quickly land the unrepresented and the inexpereinced in hot water because they do not realize how serious it is and how important it is to either be honest or be quiet.
It is a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. 1001, to make a false statement to or conceal information from a federal official by oral affirmation, written statement or mere denial. Ask Martha Stewart; that's what she was convicted of and sent to federal prison for. Federal investigations can be very intimidating and a person may feel compelled to answer questions by federal officials who may show up at one's home or place of business or invite one down to their office to talk. Simply because someone isn't wearing a uniform doesn't mean they have your best interest at heart. Every American has an absolute right to assert their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. It may upset the government, but it's supposed to - it makes it harder for them to get incriminating statements and convictions.
It is always important to remember when dealing with any government investigation - it's their job to get people to say things they'll regret later. It's their job to build cases. It's not your job to help them beyond your basic identifying information. They're experts at what they do and they're probably very good at it or they wouldn't work for the federal government. People who work in federal law enforcement are generally much better educated, trained, and more experienced than their counterparts in local government. They also have virtually unlimited resources. They are the "A Team." Don't go it alone. When one is willing to cooperate with investigators, its important to do so in a manner where the information provided or statements made are not misunderstood or later reported inaccurately. People make mistakes when they transcribe notes of conversations that were not recorded or interpret voluminous information.
Federal cases can involve many different types of government agencies, including the:
- The Department of Heatlh & Human Services (HHS)
- The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- U.S. Secret Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF)
- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service (Postal Inspectors)
If you have been contacted by federal officials or law enforcement you should contact experienced counsel to protect your rights. You may not get another chance to handle it correctly.
Need a lawyer for a federal crime case?
An arrest for a federal crime is extremely serious and can result in penalties such as imprisonment, heavy fines and restitution. Federal inmates serve the vast majority of any term of confinement they are sentenced to, followed by a period of supervised release. Shortly after almost any arrest for a federal crime a detention hearing may be held during which counsel for the accused may have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses against the Defendant as well as have a reasonable bond set. Bail and pre-trial release are not available in all federal crimes.
Federal criminal cases in the Greater-Houston Area usually are prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas by the local U.S. Attorney's Office. They are governed by local rules as well as the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and Federal Rules of Evidence. While these bodies of law may be foreign to the accused, they shouldn't be to his or her lawyer.
Looking for a lawyer for a federal crimes case? If you have been charged with a federal crime contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible. The government can spend months investigating a federal offense before an indictment is issued. If the case goes to court, the prosecution will have access to significant resources when seeking a conviction. It's important that you have an attorney on your side experienced in federal cases and knowledgeable about federal criminal law and procedure.
Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston, TX
Searching for an attorney for a federal crimes case? Federal offenses cover a range of crimes, including immigration violations, health care fraud, drug trafficking, bank fraud, weapons violations, drug trafficking, kidnapping, bank robbery, and many other crimes. They are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The Law Offices of Q. Tate Williams, P.C. is an established criminal defense firm that has over 15 years of litigation experience in local, state and federal court. My name is Tate and I can provide the qualified legal representation you will need when addressing federal charges. I am a resourceful and tough defense attorney that will vigorously attack the prosecution's case and protect your rights and freedom. I have handled numerous cases in federal court including through trial and appeal.
Contact a lawyer at my office if you are facing federal charges for reliable legal advice and dedicated representation.