If you are under investigation, or if you have been arrested for a federal offense, you should hire a federal criminal defense lawyer. The Bureau of Prisons reports that there are 177,286 federal inmates in prison in the United States as of August 1, 2019. The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world. The average prison sentence for all federal prisoners was 55.4 months in 2014, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The average sentence for drug offenses in the federal system is 77.6 months. Yes, the United States locks people up at a higher rate than any other country.
The Department of Justice targets federal offenses. The FBI is one of the leading agencies but there are other federal agencies such as:
- the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF),
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),
- the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
- United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and
- the Secret Service.
Also, the government puts together task forces made up of federal, state and local agencies to investigate federal crimes. Many United States Attorneys work closely with the task forces. In other words, the U.S. Attorney’s office has the time and money to investigate and prosecute federal offenses. If you are being investigated for a federal crime you may want an attorney with state and federal experience.
What Are the Most Common Type of Federal Offenses?
The United States Sentencing Commission reports that the most common federal crimes are:
- Drugs – In 2016 drug cases accounted for 31.6 percent of federal cases. Most of those cases were drug trafficking offenses.
- Immigration – Immigration cases accounted for 29.6 percent of federal cases.
- Fraud – Fraud cases accounted for 9.6 percent of federal cases.
- Firearms – Firearms cases accounted for 10.8 percent of the federal cases.
Federal crimes include mail fraud, aircraft hijacking, carjacking, kidnapping, bank robbery, child pornography, credit card fraud, identity theft, computer crimes, federal hate crimes, federal racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations act (RICO), obscenity, tax evasion, counterfeiting and immigration offenses.
In drug-related federal offenses, mandatory minimums apply when a defendant manufactures, sells, imports/exports traffics or cultivates illegal substances.
Can I Avoid a Minimum Mandatory Sentence?
Congress has passed the “Safety Valve” statute. The safety-valve statute allows judges to impose sentences below the mandatory minimum if you meet certain requirements. If you meet the safety-valve requirements, the judge can sentence you to less than the mandatory minimum number of months in prison.
Dealing with the federal government is a very serious business. They have the time and resources to investigate and prosecute federal offenses. Federal convictions mean the possibility of lengthy prison sentences without the possibility of parole, expensive fines and asset forfeiture that can leave you with nothing. The U.S. Attorney’s office will have unlimited resources at its disposal. A federal criminal defense lawyer can help level the playing field, protect your rights and see that you get a fair shake.