Being charged with a federal crime in California can have a serious impact on your life, and the lives of the people around you. There are a variety of situations where the crime that you are charged with is found to violate federal law, meaning that even if it additionally violates state law, your charges will be elevated to federal charges. There are a variety of reasons that a federal charge is more significant than a state charge, starting with the fact that you will have your case heard in federal court, and will be facing a federal prosecutor. These cases tend to be more high-level, and have more resources supporting the case on the side of the prosecution. Therefore, it is essential that you have an experienced and aggressive federal criminal defense lawyer in San Diego representing your case.
The Challenge of Defending Against a Federal Case
Federal charges result from long, methodical, and thorough investigations. The government works each and every day to investigate crimes. Unlike state crimes, which are usually investigated by local municipalities, federal resources are endless. The fact of the matter is that once one is made aware of federal charges coming your way, it may be too late. This is why anyone facing a federal investigation must act quickly to obtain the best lawyer you can.
Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego, CA
Attorney Vikas Bajaj has obtained UNMATCHED RESULTS while defeating federal drug investigations and charges. To learn about what makes a crime a federal case, how the penalties can increase between state and federal crimes, and how we can help you build a strong defense continue reading.
These situations are complicated, and the best way to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome is by partnering with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in San Diego who understands the process of a federal court case. Contact us now to schedule a free initial consultation. During your consultation, you will be able to speak directly with an experienced legal professional about the charges that you are facing, the circumstances that led to your arrest and charges, and discuss how we can most-effectively work together during your case. Additionally, we will be happy to discuss past cases that were similar to your own, such as the outcome of the case and how we built the defense that resulted in the findings.
What Is a Federal Crime?
Oftentimes, an individual charged with a federal crime may find themselves surprised that they are not being charged with a state-level crime, and there is certainly some nuance when understanding why one type of charge is used over another. The following is a brief overview of why a seemingly state-level charge may ultimately become a federal charge, and how the distinction is made between the two.
State Crimes vs. Federal Crimes
States have their own laws. California’s laws are compiled in a series of codes and statutes in the California State Legislature’s Laws and Constitution. In this compilation of codes and statutes, state-level violations are clearly defined, and their associated penalties are included in the section dedicated to the law that they cover. Federal laws are laid out in the United States Code, and they cover all laws that are handled on a federal level after they have been approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.
Federal law covers all issues that specifically pertain to the Federal Government. For example, violating a drug trafficking law in California such as transporting quantities of methamphetamine from San Diego County to Orange County is considered a state felony, because you have transported scheduled drugs over county lines that are controlled by the state of California. If, however, you transported methamphetamines from California to Nevada, you have then crossed federal borders between states, meaning that your trafficking charge is now a federal crime.
In some cases, you may find yourself facing state- and federal-level charges for the same crime. In this example, you may be charged with state felony trafficking charges for transporting drugs across county lines, and additionally charged with transporting drugs across state lines. Each case will be handled separately, and will certainly complicate your defense.
Examples of Federal Crimes
As you can imagine, there are many different crimes that can be considered federal crimes because of the Federal Government’s interest or obligation to the violations that you have committed. For example, any crime that you commit on federal property or against a federal agent immediately becomes a federal crime. This means that a simple assault that takes place in a federal building, in a National Park, or against a federal agent will be tried in federal court.
Other examples of federal crimes, regardless of location or involved parties, are as follows:
- Tax Fraud
- Computer Crimes
- Wire Fraud
- Immigration Law Violations
- Healthcare Fraud
- Bank Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Intellectual Property Theft
Understanding why each of the aforementioned crimes is considered to be federal violations requires a more specific explanation of each violation, and how it impacts the Federal Government, but essentially these crimes are considered federal if the Federal Government has any interest. For example, bank fraud is a federal crime because banks are insured by the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is an agency that falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of the United States. As such, crimes that impact this agency are considered federal crimes.
Our Approach To Winning Your Federal Case
Mr. Bajaj has one goal in mind: to protect his clients without consideration for anything else. He begins by meeting with each client in order to gain knowledge of the case from the client’s point of view. Many times, this interview lasts hours, not minutes as with most lawyers. This is the foundation of a successful defense. Mr. Bajaj’s office is unique in that he does not take each and every client that may need to hire him. He maintains a lower caseload specifically to provide the best defense possible.
Mr. Bajaj defends clients facing federal drug crimes throughout the San Diego area as well as throughout the nation. Contact our law office to schedule a free initial consultation, where we can immediately begin exploring your defense options.
Federal Drug Charges Defense
Our criminal defense firm defends people facing federal drug charges:
- Drug trafficking
- Drug importation/exportation
- Drug manufacturing
- Drug distribution
Federal drug charges often target large-scale drug operations involving large amounts of drugs. These are often felony drug charges, subject to harsh penalties including significant prison time.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines – Mandatory Minimum Sentences
While the penalties for any specific crime depend on the nature of the crime and the statutes around it, they all fall under federal sentencing guidelines instead of state sentencing guidelines. This does not necessarily mean that the penalties are more or less harsh than state-level crimes, only that they follow a separate series of determinations.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines set the penalties for federal drug offenses. The government has imposed mandatory minimum sentences for a drug crime conviction. These sentences are now ADVISORY. This means that federal judges still use the guidelines as a reference, but not as a mandatory reference.
It is important to understand that federal cases must be handled in different way than state cases. In federal cases, one must assume the Federal Government has done their “homework” and knows a lot about the target of the investigation. The way a federal case is negotiated and litigated is also very different. Having a strong working relationship with federal prosecutors is crucial to gaining a favorable result for one charged with a federal offense. This relationship is gained through experience dealing with the United States Attorney’s Office frequently and successfully.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are a set of rules that dictate how one will be sentenced in federal court. Attorney Vikas Bajaj understands the guidelines and has used them to gain lesser sentences for many of his clients. In comparison to a state sentence calculation, federal sentence calculations are extremely complex. Having the right federal defense attorney can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your federal case.
Attorney Vikas Bajaj has tremendous experience handling federal criminal cases in different jurisdictions, including the Southern District of California, Central District of California, Eastern District of Michigan, and the Western District of Washington.
Recent Victories in Federal Court
Attorney Bajaj has distinguished himself by securing victories for his clients in the federal courtrooms and negotiating favorable pleas. For instance, Mr. Bajaj was able to secure a sentence of 18 months in a complicated highly-publicized case wherein the government was requesting a sentence of almost twenty years.
In another case, Mr. Bajaj’s client was accused of being a large scale supplier of methamphetamine for the Hell’s Angels, which has been labeled as a criminal motorcycle gang. After seizing seven guns and a large quantity of methamphetamine during the execution of the search warrant, in a addition to the seizures made after agents listened to the hundreds of hours of wiretaps, his client was facing 40 years or more in federal custody.
In the end, the United States Attorney’s Office was forced to announce that Mr. Bajaj’s client received the most beneficial deal of almost three dozen named defendants. His client will serve approximately three years rather than 40 years in custody.
Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Crimes
The following are just a few of the common questions that we get from clients and prospective clients as they try to make sense of their situation. We understand that you are going through a stressful and likely overwhelming experience, which is why we take pride in our ability to help you navigate this process with confidence. The following answers are intended to give you a general overview of the information, but in order to get answers that are specific to your case, contact us as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation.
A federal crime is a crime that is made illegal by U.S. federal legislation, meaning that any charges will be tried in a federal courthouse and by a federal judge. Most laws that are enforced in the United States are heard on the state level because they are made illegal by state legislation.
If the Federal Government or any federal agency suspects that you may have committed a crime that violates federal statutes, then the agency responsible for investigating these types of crimes will open an investigation against your own alleged criminal actions. Depending on the nature of the alleged crimes, any number of agencies, task forces, surveillance teams, and more may take part in the investigation as they begin to build a case against you.
If you are under an investigation or suspect that a federal agency may open an investigation against you, one of the most important steps that you can take is to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney who can help you begin to formulate a defense and help you understand how to navigate this investigation. While you are entitled to a variety of legal protections, it is unlikely that any of the investigating agencies will extend these privileges to you voluntarily, such as the right to avoid incriminating yourself while making any statements regarding the investigation.
Without an attorney representing you, it is likely that those individuals tasked with your investigation will attempt to get you to make statements that will likely support their position or incriminate you, therefore making their own job easier while depriving you of a fair investigation. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that every step of your investigation is fair and just.
It is important to know that a federal agency is under no legal obligation to inform a suspect that they are the subject of a federal investigation. Since federal investigators can use such tactics as wiretapping, online or physical activity monitoring, recording conversations with a complicit party wearing a wire, and a variety of other methods, it is in the agency’s best interests to keep the subject ignorant of their activities for as long as possible.
As you can imagine, the answer to this question depends on a wide range of specifics regarding your case, including the nature of your charges, your criminal record, any enhancements to your charges, and more. As such, there is no responsible way to answer this question without working directly with you and understanding the entire situation.
At your arraignment, you will be read the official crimes that you are being charged with. From there, we will be able to use existing cases, past conviction information, and federal sentencing guidelines in order to understand what type of penalties your own charges may possibly result in.
The moment that you have either been charged or suspect that you are under investigation is the right time to start working with a federal criminal defense attorney in San Diego. Any extra time that you have with your lawyer to work on your case is extremely valuable and will give you an advantage in your upcoming case and possible trial.
The longer that you wait to partner with an attorney, the more steps you will have to take on your own, and the more likely you will be to complicate your case, even with seemingly-innocuous statements or actions. The complexities of a federal trial are overwhelming and require a vast knowledge of the US legal code in order to identify the most appropriate course of action. Contact us now to schedule your initial consultation, so that we can begin work on your case as soon as possible and take advantage of the time that we have together.
If you are unaware of any investigation until you are arrested for the alleged crimes, do not say anything to the police about the crime without contacting a lawyer as soon as possible. Once you have legal representation, your attorney will be able to help you navigate this process effectively and start planning for a long-term goal.
There is no certainty that a case will or will not go to trial until it is heard in court, we have worked with prosecutors, and a variety of other specific steps throughout the case. We may be able to reach an agreement with prosecutors that helps us avoid a trial, negotiate reduced charges, a dismissal, or a variety of other possible outcomes. In the event that we are unable to work with prosecutors in order to identify a fair and reasonable alternative to trial, we will then decide whether or not to move forward.
Before a trial, there is a discovery phase where all parties involved will have to submit to depositions, there will be an extensive period of research and fact-gathering and other steps that each side takes in order to gain a better understanding of the situation. During this time, it is not uncommon for new or different information to arise that leads one or both sides to decide to work together before going to trial.
Contact Us Today
If you have been charged with any sort of federal crime, the most important step to take is to contact an experienced federal criminal defense law firm in San Diego as soon as possible. The sooner we are working together, the more time we will have to build your case before your initial hearing, as well as make certain that we take every necessary step in order to maximize your chances of a positive and successful outcome.