Columbus Federal Crimes Lawyer

Have you been arrested for a federal offense in Columbus, OH? The best thing you can do right now is consult a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience handling federal charges. At the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC, our legal team has been navigating the state and federal court systems in Ohio for decades. 

We know that you’re probably scared and worried about your future. That’s why we will do everything we can to achieve the best possible outcome in your federal criminal case. Our law office in Columbus offers a free consultation, so give us a call to schedule yours now.

How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Federal Charges in Columbus?

It may surprise you to learn that the penalties for federal crimes may be more serious than those at the state level. As with every criminal offense, these convictions show up on your record and can have serious consequences. They can affect your employment, housing, and even your ability to perform volunteer work.

For that reason, it’s important to have a Columbus criminal defense attorney on your side that has experience handling federal cases. This is because these charges can be very different from state charges. There are different criminal laws that apply and federal courts have their own rules and procedures.

Further, your case could become complex if one of the following federal agencies opens an investigation against you:

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Our Columbus law firm has over 25 years of experience defending against tough federal criminal charges. We have a history of success in getting federal charges either dropped or reduced. We will defend you aggressively and work hard to get you the best results for your unique situation.

Our team will investigate your case and explore all potential defenses available to you. We will negotiate with the federal prosecutor to work out a deal and to keep these charges off of your record. If necessary, our accomplished defense team will take your case to trial.

It’s important to get started on your defense right away. So, don’t hesitate to call our compassionate legal team for help.

Overview of Federal Crimes in Columbus, OH

In the United States, there are two systems of government, one at the federal level and one at the state level. As you might imagine, state laws are enacted by local legislatures and only apply within the state’s geographic borders. By contrast, federal law is passed by Congress and applies to the entire country.

With that in mind, a central question in every criminal case is which governmental body has “jurisdiction.” Typically, if you commit a crime in Ohio, the state has jurisdiction and you will be prosecuted under state law and within the state court system.

However, in some situations, federal authorities would instead have jurisdiction. Specifically, if your actions meet any of the following criteria, federal jurisdiction would apply:

  • The crime took place on federal property – such as in a national park
  • The crime involved crossing state lines – like importing drugs into the state, or
  • The crime involved interstate commerce – this would include any services that are supplied across state lines, such as committing fraud over the internet.

In addition, there are a few limited areas where the federal government has nationwide jurisdiction. This means that you can only be charged at the federal level for these types of crimes. Examples are tax violations and immigration issues.

Facing Charges in Both State and Federal Court

Keep in mind that it is possible to be prosecuted for both state and federal crimes. This is important because in most cases “double jeopardy” rules would apply. These rules state that you cannot be retried for the same crime. However, this does not apply to being charged with what amounts to identical offenses at both the state and federal levels.

So, if you were caught transporting drugs into this state, you could face separate state and federal drug trafficking charges. This could lead to more jail time and fines. It also means that being acquitted at the state level could still result in you being found guilty at the federal level, and vice versa.

Examples of Federal Crimes

Note that there are many activities that are criminalized by the federal government. As a general matter, most things that are illegal on the state level are also illegal on the federal level.

Common examples include:

White-collar crimes: these include money laundering, identity theft, forgery, tax fraud, embezzlement, as well as securities and commodities fraud (including Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes).

Drug crimes: including drug trafficking, importing and exporting, manufacturing, and distribution.

Racketeering: these are crimes involving an ongoing organized criminal enterprise that operates across state lines.

Intellectual property crimes: involves counterfeiting goods or items protected by patent, trademark, or copyright laws.

What Are the Penalties For Federal Crimes in Ohio?

As you might imagine, the penalties for federal crimes vary considerably and depend on the type of offense that was committed. It is also important whether or not the person charged has any priors. In fact, a sentence can range anywhere from a few months behind bars all the way up to the death penalty.

For instance, the crime of drug trafficking is punished with a prison term of between 5 years and life. Again, how much time you will receive depends largely on your criminal history and the quantity of drugs seized.

By contrast, kidnapping carries a penalty of between 25 years and life. In addition, if the victim was killed during the commission of the crime, the court can impose the death penalty. It is important to note that it does not matter that the death penalty is not used in the state or states where the crime took place.

For fraud, you could face up to 10 years behind bars for each offense. The penalty can also be increased to a life sentence depending on the factors mentioned above. Bear in mind that the fines for this class of crimes can be very steep. They can be into the hundreds of millions for large scale schemes.

Sentencing Guidelines are Discretionary 

It’s important to note that the sentencing guidelines at the federal level are only discretionary. This means that federal judges have tremendous leeway in determining how much to penalize a person convicted of a crime. Further, remember that these penalties can be in addition to any jail time or fines you receive at the state level.

Defending Against Federal Charges in Columbus

Now, as with all criminal charges, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. This means that the federal prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To do so, it must be shown that there is no other logical conclusion to be drawn from the facts presented other than you committed the crime in question. This is a very high bar and requires a significant amount of evidence.

Having legal representation from a qualified defense attorney is incredibly important in these cases. He or she will fight to keep all incriminating evidence out of court. This may be based on legal principles like “spousal privilege,” which states that a couple cannot be forced to testify against one another.

Another basis for excluding evidence is if there were any violations of your constitutional rights. Examples of constitutional violations that often come into play in federal cases include:

Illegal Search and Seizure

Police typically need a warrant to search your house and probable cause to search your car. Failure to follow these rules can result in any evidence obtained through these methods being excluded from court.

Confession without Miranda Rights Read

If you’re arrested, law enforcement must advise you that anything you say to them can be used against you. Failure to read a person his or her rights results in any confession obtained this way can be deemed inadmissible in court.

If certain key evidence can’t come in, such as your confession or the drugs seized, there may be no basis for convicting you. For that reason, it is critical to have an attorney on your side that understands how to investigate these matters and how to point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

Lack of Knowledge

Note that, depending on the specific charge, your lack of knowledge regarding the criminal activity could also be used as a defense. For example, the crime of federal drug trafficking requires that the offender knew that drugs were being transported. If someone placed contraband in your vehicle without your knowledge, this could be used as a defense to the charge. 

Likewise, the crime of racketeering requires knowledge of the criminal enterprise. This means that there needs to be more evidence than simply showing that you happened to be in the area when criminal activity was going on.   

Now, there may be other defenses available to you. Your Columbus criminal defense attorney will help you investigate all of these options and advise you on how best to proceed.

Contact Our Columbus Federal Crimes Lawyers For a Free Consultation

As you can see, federal charges can be quite serious. However, you have the right to a criminal defense attorney throughout all of these legal proceedings. That’s why it’s critical to contact a lawyer as soon as you suspect that you are being investigated. The legal team at James D. Owen, LLC is always standing by to take your call. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your criminal case with our Columbus defense team. As always, your initial case assessment is free.