Defendants in Seattle and across Washington State can get charged with a host of federal crimes. Some of the more common, though, include: drug offenses, fraud (mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud), conspiracy, firearm offenses, and immigration-related offenses. While the penalties for these federal crimes are indeed harsh, our criminal defense lawyers have the skill to raise a defense on your behalf.
Drug Offenses Under Federal Law
Drug crimes can get charged at both the state and federal levels. Please click here for a review of drug crimes under Washington law. As for federal drug offenses, they often relate to:
- Drug Trafficking
- Drug Possession
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Distribution
Defendants are also likely to confront federal charges if the facts of their case involve substantial quantities of drugs or extensive criminal organizations. Please also note that federal law prohibits the import and export of controlled substances.
Mail Fraud Under Federal Law
Mail fraud describes a scheme or fraudulent activity that’s carried out with the use of the United States mail, or any other interstate mail carrier. Therefore, to prove that a person is guilty of mail fraud, a prosecutor must show that: (1) a person used a scheme to defraud others; (2) the person made statements or omissions that had a tendency to influence another person to part with money or property; (3) the person acted with the intent to deceive or cheat; and, (4) used the mail to carry out that scheme. Victims of mail fraud include individuals, banks, the government, and businesses.
Wire Fraud Under Federal Law
Wire fraud can get a little complicated and involves some tricky legal concepts. It’s a crime that is like mail fraud but involves communication over wires instead of through the mail. In general, it involves a scheme to defraud that’s carried out with the use of electronic communications, such as: the telephone, computers, internet, cell phones and interstate wires. The crime is often broken down into four elements and a prosecutor must prove all four to convict a person of the crime. These elements are: (1) a person created or joined a scheme to defraud an entity for financial gain; (2) the scheme was carried out to defraud others; (3) the person had reasonable knowledge that wire communications were necessary to complete the fraud; and, (4) interstate or foreign wire communications were used for the fraud.
Bank Fraud Under Federal Law
Bank fraud generally means any scheme or plan to defraud a bank or other financial institution. Committing fraud against a bank basically means a person uses deceit, dishonesty, or some form of trickery to obtain money, credit, security, or any other asset. Bank fraud can be as simple as a person depositing a forged check. The crime can also involve very complicated schemes and complex transactions.
Conspiracy Under Federal Law
Conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit a crime and then take some action toward the completion of that crime. The action taken does not necessarily have to be a crime on its own. However, it must indicate that the persons conspiring knew of the plan and intended to break the law. Keep in mind that it’s not necessary for the persons involved to actually complete their crime. All that is required is one small step toward its completion.
Let’s take an example. Bob and John agree to rob a bank. As part of their plan, they buy masks to conceal their faces. If authorities discover their plan after the masks are purchased, Bob and John can get arrested and charged with conspiracy – even if the robbery was not committed and the purchase of masks is not illegal.
Firearm Offenses Under Federal Law
Prosecutors can charge persons with a variety of different firearm crimes. Some of the most common gun illegalities under federal law are:
- It’s illegal for certain classes of people to possess a firearm. These classes include: convicted felons, certain drug addicts, people with particular mental impairments, people in the country illegally, former service members that received a dishonorable discharge, and anyone that is restrained by a lawful court order.
- Federal law prohibits a person from importing, producing, or conducting transactions in firearms across state lines. This rule does not apply if the person has a license to import, produce, or deal in firearms.
- Federal law makes it illegal for a person to sell or otherwise distribute a firearm to another person when the person selling/distributing the gun knows that the buyer does not live in the same state. Again, this rule does not apply if the people involved in the transaction are licensed to deal with guns.
- It’s illegal to transport certain types of weapons – e.g., bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines, machineguns, and rifles and shotguns with short barrels.
- Federal laws ban straw purchases. These laws make it illegal for a person buying a gun to use any false written or verbal statements, or, to present false identification intended to deceive a gun dealer about the legality of the transaction or the ultimate owner of the firearm.
- It’s also illegal for a person to knowingly deliver, transport, or accept any firearm with a serial number that has been changed, removed, or destroyed.
Immigration-Related Offenses Under Federal Law
There are specific federal laws that pertain to immigration-related crimes. Many offenses under the general category of immigration crimes are generally classified as fraud crimes in that they involve a deceptive act to obtain benefits under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Some of the most common immigration related crimes include:
- false personation as citizen of the United States
- fraud and false statement in connection with a naturalization, citizenship, or alien registry
- fraud and misuse of visas or documents related to naturalization, citizenship, or alien registry
- passport crimes
- illegal entry into the United States
- Aiding or abetting an individual in committing a criminal act under the Immigration and Naturalization Act
Penalties for Federal Crimes
A person found guilty of a federal crime will face extremely harsh penalties. The specific penalty will depend on the underlying facts of a case. However, those guilty of a federal offense will typically face substantial jail time and hefty fines. Please visit our federal crimes page to gather more information on the penalties for the specific crimes above.
Defenses to Charges of Federal Crimes
A person charged with a federal crime is not without hope. Legal defenses to these crimes do exist. For example, federal charges can get dismissed or reduced upon a showing that the government failed in its investigation. “Failure” here means that the government did not gather enough facts to prove its case, or it violated procedural rules in its collection of evidence. Further, a defense can always be raised if federal prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove every single element of a federal charge.
No matter the defense used, however, please know that it will require a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney to challenge federal crime charges. The federal crime attorneys at Black & Askerov have the skill and experience you’re looking for. They have over three decades of combined experience defending clients on federal charges. They are smart in their work and passionate in their representation. Contact them today and get the assistance you deserve.