Are you a suspect or person of interest in a federal crime?

los angeles federal defense lawyer

If you are under investigation in a federal crime or have already been charged, your future and freedom may be in jeopardy. 

  • Federal authorities such as the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, or Homeland security may be involved in the investigation. These agencies have far greater resources than local law enforcement.
  • The federal government has the ability to intercept phone calls, collect video evidence, and use other powerful tools in an investigation. 
  • Punishments for federal crimes can be severe. There are mandatory minimum sentences that can’t be negotiated and no probation.

Because of the complexity and seriousness of a federal investigation, it often takes months or even years to prepare a case. Federal agents are thorough, meticulous and aggressive when building evidence for a case. If there is suspicion that you might be involved in a federal offense, it’s likely that agents have already begun gathering evidence to build a case against you. 

If this results in charges, it means that the US Attorney’s office has an advantage over the defense team right off the bat. If you are a suspect or person of interest in a federal crime, it is crucial that you don’t wait to seek legal counsel who can start preparing your defense. 

Only an experienced and dedicated federal defense attorney can build a defense aggressive enough to stand up to the US Federal Government.

How do federal offenses differ from California criminal defenses?

Many federal crimes involve illegal activity that crosses state lines, uses or involves the internet, or involves federal agencies such as federal banks or the US Postal Service. 

Some of the most commonly prosecuted federal crimes include:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Embezzlement
  • Insider trading
  • Bank robbery
  • Child pornography
  • Kidnapping
  • Racketeering and other RICO violations
  • Identity theft
  • Mail fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Tax evasion

There are important differences in the ways that the investigation and litigation of federal crimes are handled. The United States Attorney’s Office and United States Department of Justice are responsible for prosecuting and trying federal cases and follow federal rule of criminal procedure. 

Federal judges have to follow sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences and don’t get to use much of their own discretion. The investigation and trial of a federal crime can be lengthy and intimidating. A good federal defense attorney will be with you every step of the way, keep you informed, and help you understand what to expect as your case progresses. 

What can you expect from a federal arrest and the court process in California?

Criminal cases handled by the federal court have a different judicial process than those handled by the state court.   

If the investigation by federal authorities yields enough evidence to make an arrest, the individual who is being charged will be brought into custody and interviewed by a pretrial services or court probation officer. 

los angeles federal defense

The accused will then appear in court for an arraignment in front of a federal magistrate judge. The judge will decide whether or not the defendant will be released to await trial and can also set conditions of the release or set bail. The result of the arraignment depends on the specific details of the case. The judge will consider information gathered during the pretrial interview, the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and any other relevant information in making the decision. 

Federal criminal cases in Los Angeles and surrounding counties are handled by prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. If prosecutors believe that there is enough evidence against the defendant, they will present the case to a federal grand jury who will decide if the case should go to trial. 

If the case moves to trial, the prosecution will file an indictment with the United States District Court. The defendant will then make additional court appearances where the defense team will acquire police reports or other relevant documents to the case. Whatever discovery documents or evidence that the defense receives will be used by the federal defense attorney to fight the charges placed against the defendant. 

The U.S. Attorney has to prove that the defendant is guilty of all elements of the crime in order to secure a conviction. Following a trial or plea bargain, the judge will sentence the defendant. While mandatory sentencing guidelines make it difficult to plea bargain in federal court, a skilled defense attorney may be able to present the case in a way that it is not subject to those guidelines. 

If the judge determines that federal sentencing guidelines need to be followed, the penalties will likely be much harsher than for a crime handled by the state court. 

Do NOT Talk to Federal Investigators Without Talking to a Lawyer First

It’s common in “white collar” crimes cases for the government to spend years methodically building cases — subpoenaing evidence, interviewing witnesses and collecting data.

As part of that process, they might talk to people that weren’t really involved in the crime.

If you are visited by a federal investigator who has requested an interview, it is very important that you politely but firmly inform them that you have hired an attorney and would like to consult with the attorney first.

Why?

Let’s use a hypothetical example: Sam used to work for a company that he knew had been “cooking the books.” He was unhappy with the situation, but did anything his boss asked, because he knew how hard it would be to find another job.

After some time, Sam gets a new opportunity and leaves the company. The stress is over.

Years later, federal investigators knock at his door and ask if they can ask some questions. The agent seems like he doesn’t know much about the situation, and he asks a few questions that might hint to Sam’s involvement in the company’s fraud.

Caught off-guard by the sudden visit and wanting to just stay out of trouble, Sam says he doesn’t remember doing any of the things the agent mentions.

Sam might’ve just landed himself in hot water. Federal investigators often try to “play dumb” in interviews, and they usually know more than they’re letting on. They do this in order to get witnesses and interviewees to reveal more about the case.

If the federal agent knew that Sam was involved in committing fraud and Sam now said that he didn’t do anything, Sam could be in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001: Lying to a federal agent.

Now Sam could find himself in criminal trouble as a result of a quick, seemingly innocent misstep.

When you say that you’d like to speak with an attorney first, the federal agent might press you. “What do you have to hide?” “Why do you need to talk to an attorney?”

But the reality is that simply stating that you will first talk to an attorney might force the investigator to rethink whether your interview is really worth it. He might decline to speak from you at that point. Should the agent want to continue the interview, by speaking with a federal defense attorney first, you’ll be prepared and more comfortable.

Why do you need a federal criminal defense lawyer?

Federal charges are very serious, and a conviction could have a devastating impact on the rest of your life. It is crucial that you hire an attorney who can dedicate their time and expertise to your unique case and who understands the ins and outs of the federal court procedures and guidelines. 

Because the federal government has basically unlimited resources and sophisticated technology to collect evidence against you, you need to have an aggressive defense strategy. A highly skilled federal defense attorney will customize your defense strategy to the details of your case. The sooner your attorney can begin researching the evidence against you and determining the best way to fight your charges the better. If you are in need of a federal criminal defense attorney, don’t wait, contact our law offices today. 

Federal criminal defense attorney Robert M. Helfend

The Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend provides nationwide defense against all types of federal charges. Based in Los Angeles, Mr. Helfend has been recognized for his work in the courtroom by SuperLawyers, Lead Counsel and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.

“This man is a very effective criminal defense attorney. I was charged but I never had to go to court because the case was thrown out thanks to his efforts. I was very worried because I didn’t know anyone who could confirm my location, but he was able to prove that I was innocent.”
Jason, CA

Trained at Pepperdine Law, Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively since 1984 and has won favorable judgments for thousands of clients in that time. Some of his specific practice areas include:

  • Antitrust violations
  • Child pornography
  • Drug conspiracy
  • Drug trafficking
  • Embezzlement
  • Identity theft
  • Insider trading
  • Internet crimes
  • Internet sex crimes
  • IRS defense
  • Money laundering
  • Social Security fraud

If you are facing charges for any type of federal crime, we can provide you with the care, attention, and aggressive defense that you will need in order to get through the difficult federal judicial process. Contact us today for a free initial consultation and let us get to work defending your rights and fighting for your future — 800-834-6434.

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