Government Investigations

Government Investigations

The United States has two primary criminal justice systems: state and federal. Although both divisions bring charges in a similar manner (e.g. indictment), any real similarity ends there. That is why anyone charged with a federal crime needs an attorney with extensive experience in federal courts, since many of the rules and procedures  are different than in state courts.

What crimes does the federal government investigate?

Although some agencies are assigned to enforce certain state codes, the U.S. Code confines federal law enforcement investigations mainly to matters that fall under government jurisdiction. They include:

  •     International and domestic terrorism
  •     Counterintelligence
  •     Public corruption
  •     Organized crime
  •     Mail and wire fraud
  •     Tax crimes
  •     Alien smuggling
  •     Crimes involving interstate commerce
  •     White collar crimes such as money laundering and bankruptcy fraud
  •     Crimes that take place on federal property or across state lines

Who are the investigators?

The Department of Justice, which is headed by the United States Attorney General, consists of several major federal law enforcement agencies. They include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Out of all these, the FBI is the best-known, with jurisdiction over more than 200 federal crimes.

The FBI has different divisions dedicated to specific crime types, such as counterintelligence, counterterrorism, criminal investigation, cyber crimes, and critical incident response. The investigators in these divisions are specialists in their respective fields, which makes challenging their allegations and evidence a task for an attorney well-versed in federal criminal defense.

How Federal Procedures are Different

Federal procedures differ from state ones on multiple fronts. Prosecutors, formally known as Assistant United States Attorneys, tend to have lighter caseloads than their state counterparts and dedicate more time to the cases they are assigned to. They also work closely with the FBI and other enforcement agencies as the investigation unfolds, so by the time a person is charged with a federal crime, the AUSA is thoroughly familiar with their alleged offense. State prosecutors rarely get involved until court proceedings are about to begin.

Sentencing and penalties in the federal system are also different. In New York State Court, the District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney has considerable leeway in offering plea bargains. In federal courts, the United States Sentencing Guidelines influence punishment, and a specific sentence can rarely be guaranteed. As a general rule, federal convictions often entail harsher penalties than state ones, especially in drug trafficking cases.

Because government investigations are more complex, and a conviction can be more devastating, anyone charged with committing a federal crime needs to retain a federal criminal defense attorney. They know the system, they know the law, and they will put these insights to work for you. Julie Rendelman is a criminal defense attorney located in New York City handling federal criminal cases. She has over 20 years of experience practicing law and offers free consultations. Ms. Rendelman can be reached at 212-951-1232.