Certain crimes may be prosecuted in federal court. Generally, these are violent crimes or crimes that involve activities that cross state lines. When you are accused of a crime, the state or federal government prosecutes you, not the victim. For federal crimes, the United States Attorney’s Office prosecutes you. At the state level, it’s the State’s Attorney’s Office. In St. Petersburg, a federal criminal case is heard in the Middle District of Florida federal court, which is in downtown Tampa.
If you are convicted of a federal crime, the punishment is usually harsher than punishment for the same crime at the state level. Punishment may include prison time, a fine, probation, or some combination of these punishments.
The prosecution can secure a conviction if it can prove a defendant obtained valuable items or money through misrepresentation, false promises, not disclosing material information, or other fraudulent pretenses. The following activities may lead to prosecution for this crime:
Financial crimes and some other types of federal crimes are considered white collar crimes. White collar crimes include:
Other federal crimes that are neither fraud nor white collar crimes include:
The punishment when someone is convicted of a federal crime is generally harsher than if they are convicted of the same crime in state court. For example, federal prison sentences are often longer, and opportunities for parol are fewer. And although some states do not impose capital punishment (Florida is not one of them), the federal government can impose it for certain crimes. Thus, even if the defendant lives in a state that outlaws capital punishment, they can still receive the death penalty if they are convicted of a crime in federal court.
In some cases, a defendant may be arrested by state authorities but tried in the federal court. But in most cases, a federal agency will investigate the defendant and make the arrest, whether the arrest is by the agency’s own officers or the agency enlists the help of local police.
Most of the time the federal government does a very thorough investigation before an arrest and has a lot of evidence against anyone who is charged with a federal crime.
Once you are arrested, you will be taken to a holding cell. If a bond was assigned, you will need to call your attorney and a bondsman to post bond. In fact, call your attorney even if you can post bond.
The next step is the arraignment. You appear in front of a judge to enter a plea. Your attorney will also attempt to lower the bond. If the judge denies you bond altogether, your attorney may attempt to argue for bond on your behalf. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may also try to get you released on your own recognizance, without needing to pay bond at all. If you can post bond or the court releases you on your own recognizance, you will be free to leave. The court may schedule your next hearing—and do not miss that hearing.
If you cannot post bond or are otherwise not released, stay in touch with your attorney to work on your case. Your attorney will request all evidence the state or federal government has against you. If you are later convicted and receive prison time as part of your sentence, the judge might subtract from your sentence the time you spend in jail waiting for trial.
If you were arrested on federal criminal charges, contact the Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300 as soon as you can. If you choose to work with us, we will discuss your case with you so that we may present the proper plea and applicable requests at your arraignment and we will help ensure the government does not violate your rights.