Local Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys in NJ
It goes without saying that the stakes are raised when the Federal Government decides to investigate and prosecute someone. Typically speaking, the Federal Government will conduct extensive investigations prior to bring criminal charges against someone. These investigations, whether they are being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “FBI”, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms “ATF” or the Drug Enforcement Administration “DEA”, they are often known to the target of their investigation prior to the filling of criminal charges. If you become aware that you are being investigated or worse charged by the government, we strongly urge that they speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately to further understand their options and how best to protect themselves. As you will see below, the potential exposure one faces if convicted in Federal Court will typically be far worse than that in State Court. For starters, anyone convicted of a criminal offense in Federal Court will be required to do at least 85% of their sentence before possibly being released. This mandatory term is only applicable to certain crimes in State Court, like robbery, aggravated sexual assault, murder and vehicular homicide. If you unfortunately find yourself in this type of situation and would like to set up an initial consultation with one of the criminal defense attorneys at Proetta, Oliver & Fay, then please contact our office at (732)-858-6959.
Being Investigated by the Federal Government in NJ?
As previously touched upon, the Federal Government spends a tremendous amount of time investigating their cases prior to actually charging an individually. These investigation are typically very lengthy and can go on for years before a formal decision to charge an individual with a crime occurs. During these investigations it is imperative to have legal representation, significant issues can be vetted out during this stage of the case. If a decision to charge an individual with a crime is made, there is really two main ways that this occurs and they are either via the criminal complaint or direct indictment. For more information on the differenced between these two, please see below.
Ways to be Charged with a Criminal Offense by the Feds
If during an investigation it is determined that an individual is going to be charged with a crime, the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) really has two options: criminal complaint and direct indictment. If they seek to proceed via the criminal complaint, they will work in conjuncture with the investigating agency (FBI / DEA / Secret Service, ATF) and draft the criminal complaint along with an affidavit of probable cause. This document will be presented to Federal Magistrate Judge and they will determine whether probable cause has been established not only for the crime but that the crime was committed by the individual they alleged. If probable cause is determined, the individual will then be arrested on the criminal complaint. The other option the AUSA has is that they can do what is known as a direct indictment. That means they take their case directly a Grand Jury and it will be the grand juries decision to determine whether or not probable cause has been established. If an indictment is returned, the individual will be “arrested” and the case will proceed too litigation. It is important to note here that an individual charged via the complaint can not be brought to trial under this method, their case must then be presented to the Grand Jury in hopes of returning an indictment. If after a criminal complaint is filed an individual seeks to resolve their case via a plea-bargain, they can waive their right to a Grand Jury (indictment) and agree to proceed via an information which is simple another formal charging document.
What type of Charges do the Feds Typically Prosecute?
Although the perception that the Federal Government typically only handles more significant cases, there isn’t necessarily any specific type of case that they choose not prosecute or defer to the State Court as a matter of policy. Some of the most common crimes that we see being prosecuted in Federal Court are: Drug Trafficking, Tax Evasion, Firearms Offenses, Healthcare Fraud, Racketeering, Child Pornography, Bank Robbery, Identity Theft, Wire Fraud, Human Trafficking and Mail Fraud.
The Federal Government is also responsible of prosecuting lower level offenses that occur on Federal Property, like Gateway National Recreational Area. New Jersey is home to several Gateway National Recreational Areas but by far the most common is the Sandy Hook. During the summer months we tend to see a tremendous increase in arrests at Sandy Hook, especially on Gunnison Beach. The vast majority of those arrests are for crimes like: driving while intoxicated, lewdness, drug possession, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of alcohol.
How Does Sentencing work in Federal Court?
Any individual sentenced to a term of incarceration in Federal Court will be required to do at least 85% of their sentence before they can be released. As touched upon above, this is in contrast to most New Jersey State Court incarceration sentences, whereby most of those sentences are what is known as “flat sentences”. That means that an individual sentenced to a custodial term in the Federal System will be far more likely to do significant more time than that of an individual sentenced in State court. Furthermore, the Federal System has what is known as Federal Sentencing Guidelines, these in essence create a baseline for a sentencing judge to work off of when determining an appropriate sentence. A tremendous amount of information is taken into consideration when drafting and fine-tuning the guidelines . These guidelines were created in an effort to seek uniformity in sentences Country wide. It is important to note that these guidelines are advisory and that the sentencing Judge is not bound to the guidelines. For more information the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, please click the link.
Need to Speak to a Federal Criminal Lawyer in New Jersey
We understand that being charged with a traffic offense and summonsed to appear in Court can be nerve wracking to most, so we fully understand the stress and panic most feel when they come to learn that they are being investigated by the Federal Government. Being investigated is not something to underestimate. Just because criminal charges were not filed right away does not mean that they will not be forthcoming. As touched upon above, most federal investigations can linger on for years. If you or a loved one is the subject of a federal investigation, charged with a federal crime or facing a federal indictment in New Jersey, we strongly urge that you speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately. Although the legal concepts that underlie the federal criminal justice system are similar to that of the State court, the process is extremely different than that of State Court, that is why it is imperative to make sure you speak to an attorney who has experience in Federal Court. If you would like to set up a free initial consultation with one of the criminal defense lawyers at Proetta, Oliver & Fay please call 732.858.6959 or you can try contacting us online.