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Receiving notice of federal criminal charges is one of the most terrifying things a U.S. citizen can face. The federal government has far more resources and experience on their side than Virginia courts. The conviction rate is high, but federal charges can be defeated.

Your first step is to speak with a federal charges lawyer in Richmond from Christina Pendleton & Associates. Only certain criminal defense lawyers have the experience and skill to go up against federal prosecutors. Going with an inexperienced lawyer puts your freedom in jeopardy.

What Is a Federal Crime?

Every state has their own set of laws. But when a crime crosses state boundaries or happens on federal land, federal laws may apply first. Depending on the crime, both state and federal charges could apply to you.

Some common types of federal crimes include guns, drugs, child pornography, sex trafficking, computer crimes, and fraud. Many white collar crimes end up in front of federal courts because of cross-state boundaries.

Some lesser crimes may also put you in federal court because it happened on federal land. Virginia is especially vulnerable because of its many military installations, including the Pentagon and the CIA headquarters. Even a traffic violation could be charged federally.

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Differences Between Federal and State Crimes

There are many differences between the two levels of crimes. First, federal crimes are not investigated by local police. Instead, federal agencies like the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the IRS do that. There is also an entirely separate court system with its own judges and courthouses.

Another difference is the length of the sentence. Most federal crimes have a mandatory minimum sentence that is much longer than state penalties. Thus, the same crime can have a heavier penalty at the federal level. 

Additionally, federal prisons differ from state prisons. Many federal crimes are white-collar crimes, so the majority of offenders in a federal prison are nonviolent offenders. Still, this doesn’t mean prison is any easier. And you don’t want to face the consequences of a conviction without a federal charges attorney in Richmond defending you.

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Dangers of Federal Crime Penalties

Often, especially in white collar crime cases, you will not be charged until there is firm evidence that you’re guilty. You may not even know that you’re under investigation. Federal agencies have all the time in the world, and the resources, to build an airtight case. The conviction rate is high.

This is dangerous for you because many federal crimes have mandatory minimum sentences. Judges have great leeway in sentencing unless these laws handcuff them. Even if the judge agrees there were extenuating circumstances, you may still face years in prison.

Nearly all federal crimes are felonies as well. So, if you are convicted, expect a loss of your civil rights for years, and possibly a lifetime of social prejudice. Plus, there is no chance for parole at the federal level. All the more reason you need an experienced Richmond federal charges attorney on your side.

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Why Is There No Chance for Parole for a Federal Crime?

In 1984, Congress eliminated parole for federal crimes committed after November 1, 1987. The justification at the time was the War on Drugs and a fear that criminals may get released too soon before their prison sentence rehabilitated them.

That said, a federal prisoner can sometimes get a reduced sentence for good behavior and progress toward a more lawful life outside of prison. An example of this is getting more education while serving your sentence.

There is also something similar to parole at the federal level called supervised release, but which is served after a prison sentence is finished. Like with parole, if you break the terms of the release you can go back to prison.

One minor exception to the parole rule is crimes committed in the District of Columbia. Felons who committed their crime in D.C. and are serving their sentences there could have their parole handled by the remaining parts of the federal parole system.

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Contact a Richmond Federal Charges Lawyer Now

The time to contact a federal charges lawyer in Richmond is as soon as you know anything about an investigation against you. You do not have to be charged to speak with one, and it’s in your best interests to have one building a case for you as soon as you suspect an investigation.

Despite the vast resources of the federal justice system, they still have to play by the rules. They must prove their case to a judge, and we will be there to disprove it. Contact the Pendleton Law Group by phone or by using our web form. Do it before it’s too late.

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