In Dallas, Texas, there are both federal and state laws. A federal offense is an act that is illegal under federal law, and it is often much more serious than a state offense. The majority of crimes are prosecuted at the state level, but federal prosecution does occur in Dallas. Some examples of federal crimes include:
- Drug charges
- Federal weapons offenses
- Child pornography offenses
- Mail and wire fraud
- Tax evasion
- Mortgage fraud
The majority of federal cases do end up in a plea bargain, but this does not mean that you must plead guilty as soon as possible. You can defend yourself if you are charged with a federal crime. It is crucial that you reach out to a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Sentencing Guidelines In Federal Court
Sentences for federal offense charges are almost always harsher than state court sentences. Penalties are determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines take into account your criminal history and the level of the offense, among other factors. The sentencing guidelines are incredibly technical and complex, and it can be difficult for attorneys without experience to navigate federal sentencing.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were created to provide uniform sentences among the federal courts, but they are not mandatory. Although rare in Dallas, judges can depart from the guidelines. For example, a judge may give a less severe sentence, if the defendant cooperated with the government to provide information on other people.
Differences Between Federal and State Offenses
Below are some of the major differences between federal and state offenses.
- Federal offenses often have more severe sentences. Additionally, if you are sentenced to prison, you will generally need to serve more of your sentence if you were convicted of a federal offense as opposed to a state offense.
- There are different procedures in federal court. Federal court has strict procedures that you must follow. It is best to find an attorney who has experience with the rules and procedures of federal court.
- The federal government has more resources to investigate federal offenses. Federal law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigate federal crimes. These agencies have a lot of resources and investigations can last years.
- The prosecutors are different. Federal prosecutors are called Assistant U.S. Attorneys. They bring fewer cases than state prosecutors and are, therefore, able to spend more time on each case. Additionally, they work together with federal law enforcement agencies to complete investigations.
Your Rights In Federal Court
If you have been charged with a federal offense in Dallas, Texas, it is important that you understand your rights. Below are some of the most important rights that you have in federal court.
- You have the right not to speak with the government if you are being investigated.
- You have the right to request to speak with an attorney before answering any questions asked by the government. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed by the court.
- You have the right to have your case presented to a grand jury if you are charged with a felony. A grand jury is a group of citizens who will vote on whether or not the government has probable cause that you committed the crime.
- You have the right to a detention hearing if the government is trying to keep you in jail pending your trial.
- You have the right to know the evidence against you.
- You have the right to a speedy trial.
How Long Will My Federal Case Take?
Although federal investigations last years, once federal offense charges are brought against you in the Northern District of Texas, it usually proceeds much faster than a state trial would have. Under the Speedy Trial Act, an indictment must be sought within 30 days of a person’s arrest. An indictment is a formal accusation of a federal crime that occurs at the conclusion of the grand jury trial.
Generally, a case must be tried in court 70 days from either the date the indictment or information is returned against the person or the date the defendant appears before an officer of the court, whichever is later. There are exceptions to this rule for complex cases or cases requiring pretrial motions.
Where Are Federal Crimes Prosecuted in Dallas, Texas?
Federal crimes in Dallas, Texas are prosecuted at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The Northern District Court of Texas has seven court districts including on in Dallas. The Dallas Division is located at 1100, Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75242.
Find A Dallas Federal Criminal Lawyer
It is critical to contact an attorney when you are first approached by federal law enforcement. Actions taken early in the investigation can have a significant effect on the outcome of your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help guide you through this time.
Not all attorneys are licensed to appear in federal court. It is important that you find a criminal defense attorney who is licensed to practice in federal court and has significant experience defending federal offense charges. Philip D. Ray has successfully Dallas citizens accused of federal criminal offenses. If you are facing federal criminal charges, contact Philip D. Ray today at (469) 588-6770 for a consultation.