Federal Cases Lawyer in Houston
Defending Clients Against Federal Crimes in Harris and Fort Bend Counties
When you’re charged with a crime, the nature of the offense itself isn’t the only thing you have to consider. You must also consider whether the charge is coming from the state of Texas, the federal government or both. Federal cases have a unique dynamic to them that your lawyer must grasp and be prepared for.
The Difference Between State & Federal Charges
The jurisdiction of the federal government is limited by what is in the U.S. Constitution, but the way our society and technology have evolved since the late 18th century mean that the scope of crimes covered under this jurisdiction has grown.
For example, a federal court can hear a case where two different states were involved in the commission of a crime. Crimes involving the Internet, money laundering and other white-collar criminal offenses are much more likely to be potential federal cases than they were when the Constitution was written.
Federal officials may also become involved if there is what’s called a “diversity of citizenship”, which is another way of saying when there are individuals who hold citizenship in different countries. With our proximity to the border of Mexico, that can be more common in the Houston area than it would be at other spots in the United States.
Any crime committed on federal property will, by definition, become a federal case. For example, an assault and battery charge in a local bar would be for the state of Texas to deal with. But that same assault and battery committed outside the Bob Casey Courthouse here in Houston will be handled by federal prosecutors.
It’s worth emphasizing that, if convicted, sentencing is handled differently in federal court than in state court. The U.S. Sentencing Commission provides advisory guidelines to federal judges to use in most cases. When drugs are involved, the guidelines become less “advisory” and turn into mandatory minimum sentences.
Above all, defendants must know that the question of state charges or a federal case are usually not an either-or distinction. The framework of the law allows both the government of Texas and the government of the United States to bring charges concurrently. This is especially true in drug trafficking cases.
Double jeopardy–the constitutional protection against being charged for the same crime twice does not apply here. The concept of “dual sovereignty” holds. That means the federal and state governments are seen as separate sovereign entities, and the charges of each can be treated separately. Your lawyer must be prepared to fight for your rights in both state and federal court in the event you are charged on both fronts.
- Drug offenses, particularly trafficking, are an example of a federal crime that arises reasonably often in the state of Texas. This is often done across state lines and in our area, which can be easily expanded to include international distribution.
- The federal government can also become involved in a theft crime simply on the basis of email or text messages being used. Stealing a car is, on the surface, a state crime. But if it was done with an accomplice and the communication with that accomplice involved an out-of-state service provider–as would be the case with email or text messaging–then we could be looking at going to both federal and state court.
- Money laundering is a complex crime and those that practice it excel at creating layers upon layers of places to move the money through before returning it to its original criminal home. It’s not uncommon for innocent people to become unwittingly involved in this. Money laundering is a federal crime.
- Any crime involving the Internet can be a federal crime. This can involve hacking, identity theft and other scams where the Worldwide Web is included.
These are just a handful of examples of how someone can enter the crosshairs of a federal prosecutor. The actual scope of potential federal crimes–in Texas and elsewhere–is quite extensive.
Your Houston federal cases lawyer must have the background for all they’ll face in the unique dynamic that federal court presents. Carter Law has just such a background. Call our office today at (713) 597-6562 or contact us online.
What to Expect in Federal Court
Within three days of your arrest, the government must bring its evidence forward in a preliminary hearing. The legal bar for the prosecutor here is not high–they must merely show they have probable cause to bring the charges against you, whereas in a criminal trial itself, your guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. However, this is still an opportunity for your lawyer to challenge the evidence the feds are advancing. Presuming the trial will go forward, there will be a bond hearing to determine bail.
Once you go to trial, the unique dynamics of federal court compared to state court can start to show. There are fewer federal cases. This can result in judges giving each case more detailed attention. Federal prosecutors are less likely to have a huge caseload and can devote more time and energy to the cases they do have.
Your federal case lawyer needs to be prepared to do the same. A strict attention to detail is necessary in all cases, regardless of jurisdiction. But that need can be heightened even further when the full brunt of the federal system is pressing down and shining a spotlight on all the nuances of your case.
“The Carter Law Firm provided my family security, assurance, and the confidence that we had the best representation in Texas” - Kimberly G.
“Integrity, Ethical, Experienced, this firm is amazing!!” - Tammie B.
“He has tenacity with a degree of tenderness but never loses sight of the end goal, which is to PROTECT, DEFEND and have the best outcome for his client.” - Kisha M.
Carter Law understands and is familiar with what’s required to win a federal case. Our lead counsel, Wilvin J. Carter, has over 15 years of experience in both the federal and state court systems. He, and criminal defense lawyer Niresha Murray have a track record of not just trying federal cases but winning them–over 1,000 victories for clients. That’s the kind of record you want in your corner.