No criminal charge should be taken lightly, but that is especially true when a person faces prosecution for a federal crime. By and large, the federal government has more resources with which to investigate and prosecute crimes than the state of Michigan, and conviction of a federal offense carries stiffer penalties and consequences than equivalent state law crimes.
If you have been accused of or charged with violating a federal criminal statute, you need the help of an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney. In Michigan, that means Michigan Defense Law. Contact us as soon as possible.
About Our Firm
Based in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, Michigan Defense Law focuses solely on representing those accused of criminal wrongdoing. Attorneys Paul Tafelski and David Goukassian have years of experience handling serious criminal defense matters, including crimes charged under federal statutes.
Anyone in Michigan accused of committing a federal crime should receive top-flight legal representation. At Michigan Defense Law, we have represented clients who have been wrongfully accused and who have made mistakes. No matter what the crime charged or the circumstances involved, we commit ourselves to protecting our clients’ rights and achieving an outcome that minimizes the impact on their lives and livelihoods.
About Federal Criminal Prosecutions
Generally speaking, Michigan residents are subject to two distinct sets of criminal laws. There are the laws set out in Michigan’s statutes, which define a wide range of crimes within Michigan’s borders. Those crimes are prosecuted by county prosecuting attorney’s offices in Michigan state courts. And then there are federal criminal laws, mostly set forth in Titles 18 and 21 of the United States Code, which apply nationwide and are prosecuted by one of the two United States Attorney’s Offices in Michigan in one of the two federal judicial districts in Michigan.
In Bloomfield Hills, for example, most federal criminal prosecutions originate from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and are filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Federal Prosecutors and Courts
Federal criminal prosecutions differ in many significant ways from state-level prosecutions. As we mentioned above, the federal government has far greater investigative and prosecutorial resources than the state government. While local prosecutors rely on local and state police to investigate crimes, federal prosecutors have the power and depth of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies at their disposal. As a result, whereas state criminal charges often arise out of day-to-day policing matters, such as disorderly disturbance calls and routine traffic stops, federal prosecutions frequently (though not always) stem from long-term investigations involving sophisticated law enforcement techniques.
Federal prosecutions also get filed in federal court, which differs in some significant ways from state court. Federal courts tend to have more resources at their disposal than their state counterparts. Federal criminal rules and practice tend to be more regimented and inflexible than their state-court equivalents. Federal judges often demand more work product from attorneys who appear before them, and have higher expectations for the quality of that work.
Federal Criminal Laws
Finally, federal criminal statutes frequently differ from state criminal statutes. It’s important to understand that there is significant overlap between state and federal criminal laws. For example, state and federal law both address drug trafficking, and the facts a prosecutor needs to prove under those laws establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt tend to be very similar. But those similarities do not always hold when it comes to punishment.
For instance, while both state and federal law permit punishment of up to life in prison for possession of a kilo or more of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, only the federal law imposes a mandatory ten year term of incarceration. In other words, whether you are charged with a federal or state crime can make a significant difference in potential punishment you may face.
Defenses to Federal Criminal Charges
In short, facing federal criminal charges means contending with high stakes and powerful prosecutors. Mounting a defense to a federal criminal charge requires diligence, fortitude, and skill.
What might those defenses entail? Obviously it depends in significant part on the crime charged. But, as a general matter, a skilled Michigan federal criminal defense lawyer will explore two principal avenues:
- Whether there are factual defenses to a federal charge—that is, that the defendant did not do what prosecutors allege; and
- Whether there are legal defenses to a federal charge—such as a failure to demonstrate that the federal government has jurisdiction, or the presence of constitutional challenges to the federal criminal statute or the conduct of the federal criminal investigation.
Of course, sometimes a defendant will want to concede guilt and negotiate a guilty plea with the federal prosecutor. In that case, the criminal defense counsel’s job transforms into an effort to help his client avoid the worst consequences of a conviction. In federal cases, prosecutors tend to have less flexibility in what crimes they charge and what pleas they can accept than do state-level prosecutors. For that reason, it is important to have a federal criminal defense lawyer who understands when and how federal prosecutors can exercise discretion.
Finally, if a client faces sentencing in federal court, it can be crucial for a federal criminal defense lawyer to prepare a detailed sentencing submission, to help convince the federal judge to mete out the most lenient sentence possible. Until recently, federal judges were bound to follow a set of sentencing “guidelines” that could result in very harsh sentences. Today, those guidelines are merely “advisory,” but many judges still adhere to them by default, which makes the strength and thoroughness of a defendant’s sentencing presentation especially important.
Michigan Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
If you face prosecution for a federal crime, choose a lawyer who has the experience, reputation, and know-how to protect your rights. Contact Michigan Defense Law right away online or by phone at (248) 221-1060 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with our team.