If you find yourself under investigation, or under arrest, for a federal crime, and you have no previous experienced with the criminal justice system, you may be feeling frightened and overwhelmed. The federal criminal justice system can be intimidating and confusing for those who have no prior experience with it. A better understanding of who investigates federal crimes as well as who is responsible for a federal crime’s prosecution may help you to feel a bit more empowered under the circumstances.
The United States Justice System
The United States operates under what is referred to as a federalist system of government. That means that we have a strong central government (the federal government) along with numerous smaller, semi-autonomous governments (the individual state governments). As a result, we also have a federal judicial system and individual state judicial systems. This means that both the federal government and the state governments may enact and enforce laws.
Who Investigates Federal Crimes?
Unlike state, county, and local law enforcement agencies whose officers basically investigate any crime reported, many of the federal government’s law enforcement agencies are set up to have a relatively narrow sphere of jurisdiction. In other words, specific law enforcement agencies investigate specific types of crimes. Some of the more commonly recognized federal agencies include:
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – the responsibilities of the ATF include the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking and tax evasion of alcohol and tobacco products.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – DEA is charged with combating drug smuggling and distribution within the United States. It is also the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – the FBI is responsible for counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes. Including sex crimes, financial crimes, and others.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – ICE is tasked to enforce the immigration laws of the United States and to investigate criminal and terrorist activity of foreign nationals residing in the United States.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – IRS is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the U.S. tax laws and otherwise enforcing the Internal Revenue Code.
- Secret Service (SS) – the primary responsibility of the Secret Service is to protect the country’s leaders from harm, but they also investigate financial crimes and crimes dealing with US currency.
- Office of the Inspector General (OIG) – Primarily investigates government employees and contractors for crimes committed while employed by the federal government. They also investigate financial crimes dealing with the Small Business Administration and other programs.
- Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) – HSI special agents investigate violations of more than 400 U.S. laws that threaten the national security of the United States such as counter-proliferation; counter-terrorism; human smuggling and trafficking; weapons smuggling and export enforcement; narcotics smuggling and trafficking; document and benefit fraud; the manufacturing, sale, and use of counterfeit immigration and identity documents; human rights violations; transnational gang activity; financial crimes, including money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; cybercrime; exploitation of children and sex tourism; trade crimes such as commercial fraud and intellectual property theft; smuggling of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other merchandise; mass-marketing fraud; art theft; international cultural property and antiquities crimes; and visa security
Who Is Responsible For Federal Crimes Prosecution?
Federal crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Each state has at least one U.S. Attorney’s Office. The State of Florida has three, the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts. The Southern District encompasses South Florida (Monroe County, Miami, Dade, Broward County, and West Palm Beach). The Middle District encompasses Orlando, Tampa, other counties. Finally, the Northern district encompasses Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and the Florida panhandle. The U.S. Attorney’s Office operates in much the same way as the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office does in any given county. Most cases are actually handled by an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Federal crimes are prosecuted in federal court. Although federal court can be a bit more intimidating, and often operates more formally than local courtrooms, the prosecution process itself is like state court with some significant differences. If you are convicted, however, you will be sentenced using the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which is a comprehensive guide used to make a sentencing recommendation to the judge who ultimately decides your sentence. If you have reason to believe you are a suspect in a federal crime, or you have already been arrested and charged with a federal crime, you need to consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away to make sure your rights are protected.
Contact A Florida Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have additional questions about the investigation, arrest, or prosecution of a federal crime in the State of Florida, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Florida federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Contact the team at Concepcion Law today by calling [number] to schedule your appointment.