Most people who are arrested on federal criminal charges have never been in such a situation before, and this is especially true for foreign nationals who are extradited to the United States. Therefore, the defendant will be very anxious and worried as to what is going to happen to them. They do not know the process. Most of all, they want to get out of detention and return home. Then, the prosecutor conveys the message to the defendant that they can go to trial and get 20 years to life, or they can cooperate with the government to help themselves. These types of pressure tactics have a negative psychological effect on defendants and often result in defendants giving up their legal rights and start cooperating with the government.

The issue is that the government sometimes greatly exaggerates the strength of its evidence or the case against the defendant. In such situations, talking with a prosecutor or an agent only aggravates the defendant’s situation. For example, a defendant might provide all of the incriminating information during these initial meetings that will later be used to convict them. It is hard in such situations for a defendant to have the discipline to not say anything except “I have to speak to my attorney” or “I am going to invoke my right to counsel,” but that is exactly what needs to be done. For that reason, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney before talking to the prosecutor or investigative agent. Your attorney needs to be on board from the start of the case and will be able to explain all of the relevant issues and ensure that any information you provide will not later be used against you.

In addition, a lawyer’s early intervention can make sure that many other constitutional and statutory rights, including such rights as conducting a preliminary hearing, preserving various defenses for trial, or obtaining discovery (incriminating evidence the government will use to convict), are protected. A federal criminal lawyer will also be able to explain the process and calculate a recommended sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines, which may help the defendant decide on the best defense strategy, even before talking to the government.

Unless you are charged with something small like a traffic infraction, my advice is to never talk to the police, state or federal, unless you talk to an attorney first.

Can a Criminal Charge Ever Be Prosecuted at Both the State and Federal Level?

Under the concept of “dual sovereignty”, state and federal governments may separately prosecute a defendant for the same crime if the criminal act in question violates both state and federal laws. However, in practice, this is rarely done, unless there is some reason for it. For example, if fraud was committed over the internet and the victim was in Chicago but the defendant was in New York, the defendant could get charged by the state of New York, the state of Illinois, and the federal government. In actuality, that would be extremely rare as only one authority will usually prosecute. What’s more, if a state starts prosecution but the federal government later gets involved, the state usually will step back and let federal authorities handle the prosecution.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Federal Criminal Statutes?

Unless it is a murder charge, most criminal laws do have statutes of limitations. The statute of limitation for fraud is five years. There are exceptions, but as a general rule, if the government did not file criminal charges within five years after the fraud was committed, then the government cannot prosecute.

For more information on the Intervention of the Federal Criminal Attorney, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 989-2908 today.

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