Maryland Federal Criminal Lawyer
A Maryland federal criminal lawyer can represent individuals throughout the state of Maryland who have been charged with a federal offense. The United States Congress passes federal laws to protect and provide for the welfare of the people. Unfortunately, these laws can have unintended and undesirable consequences. Federal drug laws, for example, have played a major role in making the United States the country with the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.
When you are charged with a federal crime, expect to face more serious potential penalties than for similar state offenses. Not all attorneys defend clients in federal courts, and not all lawyers have experience going up against U.S. Attorneys who prosecute federal offenders. You need to ensure you find a federal criminal lawyer in Maryland with the background and knowledge to help with your case.
The Federal Penal Code
Most crimes are prosecuted on the state, and not the federal, level. A simple robbery is a state crime for which you will be tried in state court. However, the federal government has criminalized certain behaviors. For example, robbery against a bank with despots insured by the FDIC is a federal offense, as are most crimes committed on federal property.
Title 18 of the United States Code sets forth the complete list of federal crimes, and there are more than 100 different chapters within that title that define federal offenses and impose penalties for those crimes. US Code Title 18 Part I has a list of the different categories of federal crimes including offenses related to:
- Aircrafts and motor vehicles
- Mail and Wire Fraud
- Bribery and graft
- Fraud, including healthcare fraud and mail/wire fraud
- The use of chemical weapons
- Corruption in government service
- Fraudulent Checks
- Conspiracy to commit criminal offenses
- Theft & embezzlement
- Healthcare fraud
Some crimes may be prosecuted exclusively in federal court, such as bankruptcy fraud. Others may be prosecuted either in federal or state court. If you are arrested for a federal crime, you cannot opt instead to face charges in state court. You should call a Maryland federal criminal lawyer if you face federal charges so you will have a guide as you respond to the serious allegations against you.
What Happens When You Are Accused of a Federal Crime?
You are guaranteed the right to due process by the U.S. Constitution. There are many steps in the federal criminal justice system that are taken if you are suspected of violating the law. If you are under investigation for a federal crime, some or all of the following may happen to you:
- A complaint is made or a federal grand jury hands down a true bill (an indictment). An indictment is generally required before you are prosecuted for a federal offense. Your federal crimes lawyer will explain when an indictment is necessary and if you should ever waive an indictment.
- An arrest warrant is issued. This warrant gives law enforcement the authority to take you into custody. You may choose to turn yourself in if there is a warrant out for your arrest.
- You may attend an Initial Appearance before a magistrate judge.You’ll be advised of your right, and the conditions of your release will be set. Your Maryland federal criminal lawyer will argue for bail or for you to be released on your own recognizance. The prosecutor may request that you be detained.
- A detention hearing may be held if you have been detained after the Initial Appearance. The hearing must be held within three working days. The Magistrate Judge will decide whether you are a flight risk or danger to the community and if you should be held in jail pending your trial.
- A preliminary hearing may be held. You have the right to a Preliminary Hearing within 10 days of an arrest based on a complaint. The U.S. Attorney prosecuting your case must evidence of probable cause to move forward with prosecuting you.
- You will be arraigned. An arraignment must take place within 10 days after an Indictment has been filed and an arrest made. You are informed of the charges and your rights, and are asked to enter a plea. Your Maryland federal criminal lawyer may argue for evidence to be suppressed or may make other pre-trail motions.
- A trial will occur. You have the right to a trial within 70 days of your initial appearance under the Federal Speedy Trial Act, although you can request longer to prepare. The prosecutor has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in trial.
- A plea bargain can be reached or, if you are found guilty, pre-sentencing can occur. You may admit guilt in exchange for the prosecutor charging you with a lesser offense or making a deal for a reduced penalty. If you do not plea bargain and are found guilty, the pre-sentencing process occurs. The Federal Probation Office collects information about you and about the alleged victims and sends the judge a sentencing recommendation.
- You may be sentenced for the offense after a guilty verdict. You have the opportunity to appeal your conviction or sentence.
Your Maryland federal criminal lawyer can protect your rights, advise you, and advocate for you every step of the way.
Getting Help from a Maryland Federal Criminal Lawyer
A Maryland federal criminal lawyer advises you in many different ways during your case, including on how to plead. Your attorney can argue on your behalf, submit motions to the court, help you explore defenses, and work hard to introduce doubt about your guilt. Contact a Maryland federal criminal lawyer today to learn more about how a lawyer can help you.