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Experienced Attorneys To Handle Your Federal Criminal Defense

If you are charged with a federal crime in Tacoma federal court or Seattle federal court, both in the Western Division of Washington, then you need a federal criminal defense attorney for your federal crime defense. Our Seattle federal criminal defense attorneys are specially licensed for the federal court. A regular Washington State criminal defense attorney cannot represent you in federal court. Only a federal criminal defense attorney can represent you in federal district court.

A federal crime can be a regular crime, like DUI or assault domestic violence, that occurred on federal land—like Joint Base Lewis and McChord (JBLM). It can also be a more serious crime like drug crimes (VUCSA) or Firearms criminal charges that are regulated by federal law. A federal drug criminal charge or a federal firearms criminal charge usually has much more severe consequences than in state court. The prison sentences for federal criminal charges are more severe. Federal criminal charges also allow less good time off of prison sentences.

Federal Criminal Law Is Very Different From State Criminal Law

Much of the law for federal criminal charges is different than for state criminal charges. In a state court, the citizens of Washington are protected by both the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 7 of the Washington State Constitution. In a federal criminal charge, the Washington State Constitution does not apply. A number of other protections also do not apply.

A federal criminal charge also has a different procedure than a state criminal charge. Different rules apply to discovery and motions in a federal criminal charge. Not following proper procedural rules can waive or lose you in a challenge to the evidence against you that might otherwise win your case. This is another reason why your federal criminal charge requires a federal criminal defense attorney.

Know What You Will Be Up Against

The first thing that is different between a federal case versus the more common state charge is who is investigating you. Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies such as the DEA, ICE, FBI, or military investigation units. When you’re considering your own resources it probably seems that these agencies seem to have unlimited resources and now they’re using those resources to investigate you. Now, more than ever, you need a defense team that will hear your story and do their own investigation for you. Also, you know how you’re counseled not to talk to police without counsel present? The same rule applies to these agencies; you are still covered by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

That brings up another important difference. As this is a federal charge you are covered by the U.S. Constitution but not by the state constitution. This provides less and different protections. You need a compassionate counsel that will explain these to you and how best to protect yourself during investigation, arraignment and trial.

Be Prepared For The Federal Criminal Justice System

There are some differences that you probably would not notice if they were not pointed out to you but they may affect your case. Your prosecutor will be an assistant U.S. attorney. They have the resources of the federal government behind them and have fewer cases than state prosecutors. It’s a guarantee that the prosecution will be ready. The same is true of the judges presiding over your case – more resources and less cases. They, even more than a state judge, will be able to guarantee to give full attention to your case. However, they are given less leniency when it comes to sentencing.

If you have ever gone to state court you probably noticed that there was more than one case scheduled for any given time and you needed to wait for the judge to call your case. That is not the way in federal court – your case and your case alone will be what is scheduled for a given time slot. This means less waiting time but it also means your case will probably get more than the usual attention given to it in state court.

Lastly, there is another important difference for you to keep in mind. State court has operational procedures, and so does federal court. Imagine worrying that you would get maximum sentence or get judged against simply because of a procedural error. That would be horrible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Crimes

The federal legal system can be bewildering to those unfamiliar with its processes. Our attorneys are frequently asked the following:

When does a crime become federal?

A crime becomes federal when it involves a violation of federal laws or occurs on federal property. Additionally, certain offenses may be deemed federal if they cross state lines or involve activities under federal jurisdiction, such as interstate commerce or national security. Essentially, if a crime has a significant connection to federal laws or interests, it may be prosecuted at the federal level. Examples include trafficking illegal drugs or weapons across state lines, kidnapping, wire fraud, mail fraud and securities fraud.

Who prosecutes a federal crime?

Federal crimes may be filed by the U.S. Department of Justice or other authorized law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Once charges have been filed, cases are handed over to U.S. attorneys for prosecution.

What are the categories of criminal defense?

Criminal defense can be broadly categorized into several types, including substantive defenses, procedural defenses, affirmative defenses and constitutional defenses. Substantive defenses challenge the factual aspects of the charges, while procedural defenses focus on errors in the legal process, such as Fourth Amendment violations. Affirmative defenses involve presenting evidence that justifies the alleged criminal conduct, such as duress or necessity. Constitutional defenses argue that the defendant’s rights were violated during the investigation or prosecution, such as infringement on their right against self-incrimination. In many cases, more than one defense approach is necessary.

Where are federal crimes tried?

Federal crimes are tried in United States federal courts. These courts are organized into districts, and each district has a U.S. District Court. Additionally, the United States Court of Appeals handles appeals from the District Courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States is the highest appellate court in the federal system. The location of any given trial depends on the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime occurred.

Get Experienced Defense Counsel For Your Federal Case

Both James J. White and Derek M. Smith are federal criminal defense attorneys. They are both licensed to practice in Federal criminal court. You can be confident in the law firm of Smith & White to defend your federal criminal charges. Our elite criminal defense attorney will work tirelessly using their decades of experience to get you the best outcome for your case. Call 253-363-8662 or send an email to The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.