Federal Criminal Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada
The state and federal governments in Nevada are both interested in investigating and prosecuting crimes- sometimes the same crimes. In most cases, crimes under state law carry lesser sentences. There are other differences between state crimes and federal crimes, including the investigating agency, the prosecutor, and in which courthouse and before which judges the case will be decided.
If you have been arrested or charged for violating a federal law in Nevada, you need the assistance of an experienced and aggressive federal criminal attorney as soon as possible. Contact LV Criminal Defense to begin your defense today.
Some attorneys are not experienced in federal cases, and this can hinder your defense. You need a lawyer who understands that a federal case is not just a more serious version of a state case, but instead is an entirely different type of proceeding that should be handled accordingly.
How are state and federal crimes different in Nevada?
For the most part, the state laws (Nevada Revised Statutes) and federal laws (United States Code) define what activity is criminal. Sometimes, certain activity will violate sections of the state criminal laws as well as the federal criminal laws. For example, mortgage fraud is a crime under both Nevada state law and federal laws.
There are three main differences between state and federal crimes in Nevada:
- Usually, federal crimes carry harsher sentences than state crimes. Any prison time will be served in a federal prison, rather than a state prison, which means that you will go to a prison which is not located in Nevada (Nevada does not have a federal prison);
- Federal crimes are investigated by government agencies. Some examples of investigating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
- Federal crimes are handled in federal court with federal judges, while state crimes are handled in state court with state judges. The government will be represented by the Department of Justice, which handles court cases that have been referred from the investigating agencies. The prosecutor is referred to as the “US Attorney.”
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What are Nevada federal crimes?
There are many crimes which take in Nevada that can be charged under federal law, including:
- RICO: RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act;
- Drug charges, which can include possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking of drugs;
- Sex crimes: These include trafficking of adults or children in the sex trade, for example;
- Bank fraud: Banks are regulated by federal authorities, which means that the federal government has an interest in prosecuting people and groups who defraud banks;
- Securities fraud: Securities are governed by state and federal law, but the federal laws are much broader. just like other types of fraud on institutions controlled by the federal government, crimes involving the purchase and sale of securities will involve violations of federal laws and can result in a federal case against you;
- Carjacking: Carjacking is actually a number of individual crimes charged together, and it may come as a surprise that it can be charged in federal court and result in federal prison time;
- Murder: Murder is a state and federal crime. The federal version of murder has two “degrees,” first and second, which have to do with whether the crime was premeditated;
- Kidnapping: Kidnapping a person or child across state lines becomes a federal offense that carries significant prison time and other penalties.
If you are being investigated for a federal crime, or have already been arrested, hire Nick Wooldridge – an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer – as soon as possible. The investigation and prosecution of federal crimes in Nevada is a complicated process that can result in long prison sentences and steep fines.
How are federal crimes punished in Nevada?
Nevada does not have a federal prison. This means that any prison sentence that must be serve for committing a federal crime in Nevada will not be served in Nevada.
Federal crimes have punishments defined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, but the process can be confusing because federal judges in Nevada do not have to follow these guidelines in making sentencing decisions. Instead, the judge can impose a combination of the following punishments for committing a federal crime:
- Community service;
- Fines; and/or
This is one reason why it is critical to hire a Las Vegas federal defense attorney who is experienced in such crimes. Your lawyer can provide the judge with a detailed argument concerning the punishment in an effort to get the lowest sentence possible.
Plea deals for federal crimes
The most important thing to know about plea deals for federal crimes in Nevada is that you may have to waive some of your rights to get the deal, including the right to appeal your conviction. Waiving your rights to an appeal is a very serious decision with many consequences, some of which can be unintended. This is yet another reason to call us as soon as possible if you have been arrested for a federal crime. You need legal advice if you are offered a plea deal in a federal case because the offer may not be what it seems.
Defenses to Federal Crimes
Just like crimes prosecuted under the laws of the state of Nevada, there are defenses to almost every federal crime on the books. Defenses are ways of showing that you are not guilty of the crime or that even if you are, your actions were justified and therefore not punishable. Some of the following defense may apply to your federal case, among many other defenses your qualified federal crimes defense attorney will bring to court:
- Misconduct during the investigation of the crime– Many federal crimes are charged only after a lengthy investigation by a federal agency. During the investigation, law enforcement must follow many of the same rules as state or local police in investigating state crimes. This included using proper search warrant procedures to ensure searches and seizures of evidence that meet constitutional requirements. If the evidence was not properly seized or collected, it can be thrown out in court, which means that the case against you is much weaker;
- Failing to read you your Miranda rights– Just like arrests for violating a state law, federal agents must read you these rights upon your arrest for a federal crime. Your criminal defense attorney can ask the court to ignore statements and evidence gathered as a result of the agents’ failing to let you know of your right to remain silent;
- A lack of evidence– Just because a case is charged by the federal authorities does not mean that the case is easier to prove. Instead, the federal prosecutor must still prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and if there is insufficient evidence to do so, you should be acquitted. Evidence law and procedure is likely the most complex area of law, and so this should not be left to an amateur or inexperienced attorney. Still, it is one of the best defenses to a federal crime;
- Self-defense– Federal law also provides an excuse for committing crimes such as murder if you were properly defending yourself from imminent death or serious bodily injury. There are certain conditions to be met before self-defense will cause the charges to be dropped (or for you to be acquitted), and your qualified federal criminal defense lawyer will explore ways to ensure that self-defense can be used to avoid a conviction;
- Entrapment– In its efforts to arrest and prosecute people who commit crimes, the federal authorities may engage in “sting” operations or use other tactics to get people to commit crimes in front of law enforcement agents. Sometimes, these efforts cross the line, and you attorney may be able to show that you were tricked into committing a crime that you would not otherwise have committed because of some action or enticement by the police;
- Insanity– The insanity defense is one of the best known defenses because it appears in popular culture so often. In reality, the insanity defense is not easy to prove and it does not apply to every crime. The result of a successful insanity defense may not be a great result, because usually people who are acquitted by reason of insanity end up in mental hospitals or other institutions for the duration of the prison sentence they would have otherwise gotten;
- Other defenses to federal crimes– As with state crimes, other common defenses such as having an alibi apply in the federal courts.
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As with any crime, a federal charge is a serious event that is best handled by an experienced and qualified Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer. You have significant rights at stake- your freedom, your criminal record, and the ability to work, find housing, and maintain custody of children in the rest of your life. Your criminal defense lawyer will review every defense possible to help you win your case.
The federal criminal justice system is very different from the way Nevada crimes are prosecuted in Nevada courts. Don’t leave the process to chance or someone inexperienced in Nevada federal court. Call LV Criminal Defense to discuss your case as soon as possible.