Defense of Federal Criminal Charges
Federal Prosecution of Alleged Criminal Acts
If you have been indicted by a Federal grand jury, this is obviously a difficult time for you. Being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is no small matter. The stakes are enormous. Whether you are accused of drug trafficking, a RICO violation, money laundering, or fraud, seriously consider retaining a criminal defense lawyer with experience representing those targeted by the Federal government.
Challenges for the Defense
While both the Federal and State governments prosecute crime, the manner in which these cases are investigated, brought forward, and prosecuted is very different. Where the typical District Attorney’s Office is overwhelmed and under-funded, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is usually selective in both the cases it accepts and/or individuals it targets for prosecution, and is the beneficiary of an almost unlimited budget. Indeed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office cherry picks the best cases following thorough F.B.I. investigations. Careful and calculating, they leave little to chance.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys are usually chosen from top law schools. They are mostly intelligent, hardworking, and take their work very seriously. At trial, they often incredibly well-prepared. However, unlike Assistant District Attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys try very few cases.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Although Federal judges are no longer required to follow the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which can be quite severe, most continue to sentence in accordance with the guidelines. Just how the guidelines apply to a particular criminal prosecution depends on the indictments obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Given the power that these guidelines bestow on Federal prosecutors, some criminal cases are resolved by way of agreement between defense counsel and the prosecutor before the defendant is even indicted. Because the guidelines punish criminal defendants who refuse to take responsibility for their crimes, the vast majority, maybe 97% or higher, of Federal criminal cases not resolved before indictment are resolved by a plea. It is for this reason that few criminal cases are actually tried in the Federal Courts and, consequently, few Assistant U.S. Attorneys have extensive trial experience.
U.S. Attorney’s Office
For many U.S. Attorneys, personal integrity and an obligation to pursue justice is just so much useless cargo, easily dumped overboard, when weighed against political considerations, personal aspirations, or simple blood lust – the thrill of destroying professional athletes, politicians, celebrities and high-profile defense lawyers. In the end, there may be no one more dangerous than a politically ambitious U.S. Attorney. Never before have the dedication of those attorneys willing to defend individuals in Federal District Court been more needed.
Selecting Your Lawyer
Compared to the rights afforded to a criminal defendant by Massachusetts state courts decisons and our Declaration of Rights, the Federal District Court is a Soviet era gulag. The U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals have denuded much of our constitutional protections of value and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure so favor the U.S. Attorney’s Office that it is difficult to obtain a fair trial.
Given the real challenges of defending an individual in Federal District Court, some criminal defense lawyers – maybe even most – refuse to take Federal cases, finding defending clients in Federal District Court too difficult, time consuming, and emotionally draining. Other attorneys, anticipating the case will be resolved by a change of plea, accept these cases because “require” little work. Given the life altering consequences of a Federal conviction, a criminal defense lawyer committed to accomplishing something substantial for his client must be willing to work tirelessly on his client’s behalf and wade into battle to protect him.
These are the unfortunate realities of being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys Office. We recommend that you choose your attorney carefully.