Aggressive and Experienced Federal Crimes Lawyers in San Diego
Federal Crimes in San Diego are crimes that are prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office, which is a branch of the Federal Government. In San Diego, the federal courthouse is located downtown off of Broadway Street, across from the State Criminal Courthouse. Federal crimes are crimes that were either 1) committed on federal land or 2) violate a federal statute. Often times a crime will violate both a state and federal statute, in this type of situation the more serious crimes will be prosecuted in federal court whereas the less serious crimes will be prosecuted in state court. Federal court is much different than state court for a variety of reasons. In Federal court they rely on the federal rules of evidence, whereas in San Diego, state courts rely on the California Rules of evidence. Also, in regards to penal codes, pleas and sentencing hearings, every aspect of the process is much different. Federal inmates are housed in special federal facilities whereas state inmates are at one of the local city jails. A Federal Crimes Lawyer is someone who specializes in these types of cases. Depending on your situation, the right lawyer could really help your case.
Federal Property Bond vs. Federal Signature Bond
The first step in the federal court process is often what is called a bond hearing. The bond hearing is essentially the arraignment but one more important issue is decided. Whether or not one can post bond and be released from custody. There are two types of bonds that are commonly offered, a signature bond and a property bond. A signature bond is one where the judge orders that someone place a signature on paperwork showing that they have a certain amount of money in the bank and saying that they will be responsible if anything happens. Unlike in state court, the actually money here never changes hands, it is just to show the court that the money exists. A property bond is where a judge orders that one put up the deed to property they own as a bond in order to secure the release of an inmate. This is a somewhat complicated process where a title company is involved. If one were to get a property bond and then get out of jail and not show up to court, the courts would foreclose on that property.
Federal Drug Smuggling Crimes
21 U.S.C. 841 governs most federal drug crimes. This is the United States Code and it is the penal code for the federal government. This code encompasses the smuggling of drugs. Most variations of this code include the following elements. 1) You possessed a large amount of drugs and 2) you took these drugs across the border or possessed them with the intent of sale.
In San Diego, the most common case is someone taking drugs from Mexico into the US. Now often we are asked, “what if I didn’t know the drugs were in the car” and if that were actually the case, that would be a valid defense, the problem is, there is usually some sort of evidence to show that at least minimal knowledge existed. There is also something called “willful blindness”. Willful blindness basically says that if you were willfully blind to this then that means that you actually had knowledge of it. An example is as follows: John has a friend who asks if he can bring his car to Mexico to get it fixed. John brings the car down to Mexico and brings it to someone’s house. That person says that they have to do work on the car and he can have it back tomorrow. The next day John is asked to cross the border with it and told that he will be paid a small sum if he does that. In this type of situation the prosecution would argue that John was purposely not asking any questions in order to act like he did not know what was going on and therefore this would be considered willful blindness.
Other Federal Smuggling Crimes
Ozols Law Firm has dealt with one of the biggest fish smuggling cases that has ever been recorded in this county. It was a case where a client smuggled Totoaba fish bladders into the US from Mexico at a value of several million dollars. Now most people would not see how this could be illegal and how it could be a federal crime. This was in violation of the endangered species act as these fish were endangered, a long with a bunch of other Federal Crimes. Being endangered, these fish bladders could be shipped to China and sold for over 10 times the amount that was paid for them.
Federal Wire Fraud
Wire fraud is a federal crime that is less common but has very serious penalties. Wire fraud requires a scheme to commit fraud, the use of wire, radio or television to commit that fraud and a specific intent to commit that fraud. These types of cases generally have tens of thousands of pages of discovery attached to them because the prosecution has to use everything they can to try and prove their case. The hardest part is often to prove that there was an actual scheme that was occurring. Common ways people can be charged here can be a TV commercial that is fraudulently inducing people to buy items, radio or someone using wire to transmit money in a fraudulent scheme. This can even take place if one had a fake charity or something oversees and one wire transaction was done in order to move that fake business along.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines were made in order to give one a better understanding of what range they can be sentenced to after committing a certain crime. These guidelines are very complicated and there is even full semester class in law school to better understand how these guidelines work. The simplest way to explain them is that each offense starts with a base level behind it. If you have priors, that number can go up. If there is a substantial amount of drugs or money involved in the transaction then the base rate would be higher than if there were not.
Once that base rate is determined, it is up to the defense to look for what are called departures. Departures are able to get the base rate number down, resulting in a lower sentencing range that the judge can sentence you to. In Federal Court however, these guidelines are what are called advisory and they are not legally binding. Unlike in state court where you have a deal with the prosecutor and you know exactly what sentence you are going to get, in Federal Court, even a deal with the prosecutor is only a recommendation to the judge. In the end the judge makes the final decision and it is very common for a judge to deviate from the prosecutor’s recommendation.
One of the most common departures is called fast track. Fast track is given in situations where someone gets an early disposition in their case. For example if someone was able to dispose of their case within 60 days of the first court date, there is a good chance they would be eligible for fast track. Fast track is able to get the base number down and that results in the opportunity to get a lesser sentence from a judge.
Substantial Assistance to Authorities
5K is a term used to describe another downward departure where substantial assistance is given to the authorities. In certain situations, the defendant decides to talk with authorities and tell them what they know about certain circumstances surrounding the offense. This usually does not result in any type of cooperation agreement where someone is “working for the federal government” but instead just shows that the defendant is willing to cooperate with the US government in order to potentially get a lesser sentence when a judge makes the final decision.
Crimes on Federal Property
The most common crimes on federal property are a DUI, which was done on federal land or on a military base or theft from a store on the military base. These types of federal crimes are actually handled by the central citation bureau and are seen as more of traffic tickets. These can be handled without a judge present and just though negotiations through lawyers.
A San Diego Federal Crimes Lawyer is here to help
Federal Charges often can range for several years in prison to twenty or more years in prison. These are extremely serious cases with very serious sentences. If you or a loved one is charged with a federal crime, it is never a good idea to enter into this alone. You want to have someone with you who is experienced and you can trust. If you or someone you know has been charged with a federal crime, please call a top San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney for a free consultation.