Birmingham, AL Federal Lawyers

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Federal Crimes in Alabama

Have you been accused of a serious crime? If you have been arrested or are under investigation for an offense that can be charged as a federal crime, you need to contact our Birmingham, AL federal lawyers as soon as possible.

Our criminal defense lawyers at Alabama Criminal Lawyers can represent you throughout the entire criminal court process, from the beginning of an investigation through appeals.

To talk with us about the allegations you face and the federal court process, call (205) 981-2450 or contact us through our online form.

When Do Federal Charges Apply?

To be charged with a federal crime, a federal court must have jurisdiction over the matter. Many crimes are perpetrated by someone within a state against another person in that same state. Matters like theft, robbery, or illegal possession of a gun are typically charged at the state level because federal courts do not have jurisdiction.

However, criminal conduct may be illegal under both state and federal law. When states and federal courts have jurisdiction over the matter, there may be prosecutorial discretion in what you are charged with and by whom—the state or federal district attorney.

Often, if you can be charged at the federal level, you will. That is because federal penalties are typically harsher than state sentences. Prosecutors will often pursue the harshest charges and penalties possible.

Some of the common reasons to be charged at the federal level include:

  • The alleged criminal conduct crossed state lines, either physically or over the internet.
  • The alleged criminal conduct crossed the U.S. border.
  • The alleged criminal conduct violates a federal statute.
  • The alleged criminal conduct occurred on federal property.
  • The alleged perpetrator or victim is a federal employee or agency.
  • A federal agency discovered and investigated the alleged criminal conduct, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), or Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • The alleged criminal conduct was discovered through an informant.

If you are under investigation or have been arrested by federal authorities, or your case may be prosecuted in federal court, contact a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

We Defend Against Federal Charges

Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers today to speak with a:

Birmingham Federal Drug Charge Lawyer

Federal drug crimes are punished harshly and have mandatory minimum prison sentences if you are found with certain amounts of certain controlled substances.

Whether you are accused of drug possession, manufacturing, or trafficking, contact us right away. Our Birmingham, AL federal lawyers will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you and vigorously defend you in court.


Birmingham Federal Gun Charge Lawyer

Any type of federal weapons charge needs to be taken seriously.

We are here to help if you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon; illegally obtaining a weapons permit; firearms trafficking; a violent offense involving a firearm or other deadly weapon; or carrying or using a firearm in relation to drug trafficking.

Birmingham Federal Conspiracy Charge Lawyer

Under federal law, you can be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime if you and at least one other person agree to commit a crime, and at least one of the co-conspirators performs an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Let us defend you when you are charged as a co-conspirator. There are many possible defenses against this charge, including lack of agreement and withdrawal from the conspiracy.

Birmingham Federal Hate Crime Lawyer

It is illegal to perpetrate a crime on the basis of another person’s race, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or ethnicity.

If you are charged with any type of hate crime under federal law, contact a federal attorney as quickly as possible to discuss how to best defend yourself.

The Federal Indictment Process

To be charged with a federal felony crime, a prosecutor must seek a federal indictment from a federal grand jury in Alabama. For lesser offenses, prosecutors can begin a criminal case with a complaint.

Prosecutors may also file a criminal complaint if they need to obtain an arrest warrant quickly. However, for felonies, they must convene a grand jury to move forward with a case following the arrest.

For some matters, a grand jury is convened following an investigation. If you are indicted, then you will be arrested, or your federal criminal lawyer may negotiate for you to turn yourself in. Or, you may be arrested first after a magistrate finds there is probable cause to issue an arrest warrant.

For a felony offense, the prosecutor must convene a grand jury following the arrest.

A grand jury is a group of 16 to 23 members of the community. During the proceedings, which are not open to the public, the prosecutor puts forth evidence of the alleged offense. You do not get the opportunity to defend yourself at this time.

The jurors decide whether there is probable cause that you committed the crime. If enough jurors agree there is probable cause, then they return a “true bill” signed by the grand jury’s foreperson.

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The Federal Court Process

After you are indicted for a crime and arrested, you must attend your arraignment. You will be informed of the official charges against you, whether or not you will be held in jail or released, and any conditions of your release, such as bail.

At your arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

The next step in the federal court process is discovery. During this time, the prosecution and defense will be thoroughly investigating the case, exchanging information, and deciding on their trial strategy.

Our Birmingham, AL federal lawyers may recommend negotiating a plea bargain. Depending on the strength of the prosecutor’s case and the potential penalties, we may recommend negotiating a lighter sentence in exchange for pleading guilty.

If you plead guilty, there will not be a trial. If you plead not guilty, then you move forward to a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is not required—you can waive it. If you do not waive it, it must be held within 14 days of your initial appearance in court, if you are held in jail.

If you are released, a preliminary hearing must be held within 21 days of your appearance.

At a preliminary hearing, which is like a brief trial, the judge will determine whether the evidence supports probable cause. You can mount some defense at this time although the formal rules of evidence that apply at trial do not apply at the preliminary hearing. The prosecution can submit evidence to the court that may be ruled inadmissible for trial.

Prior to trial, your attorney may file one or several pre-trial motions, such as a motion to suppress evidence we believe is inadmissible. We also may file a motion to dismiss. If we have not negotiated and accepted a plea deal at this point, we will prepare for trial.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

If you are found guilty at trial, then the judge will determine your sentence at a later hearing. The U.S. Sentencing Commission publishes federal sentencing guidelines.

These guidelines are typically not hard and fast rules. Instead, they provide a framework for how judges should penalize various offenses.

There are 43 offense levels and six criminal history categories. The more serious the offense, the higher the offense level. Based on your criminal record, you will be placed in one of the six categories. The judge will review the recommended penalty for the offense level and your criminal history category.

The judge can sentence you to a term of incarceration within the recommended range, or due to mitigating or aggravating circumstances, sentence you to less or more time in prison.

Some federal criminal statutes call for specific minimum and maximum sentences. For example, certain drug offenses lead to mandatory minimums. You should talk with your attorney about the possible sentence you face for a federal offense.

Incarceration is not the only part of your criminal sentence. Your penalty for a federal crime may include:

Statutes of Limitations on Federal Crimes

For certain federal offenses, there is no state of limitations. This includes crimes punishable by death, terrorism, and certain sex offenses, including sex offenses against children.

For more federal offenses, the prosecution must begin within five years from the date of the crime. Some offenses have a longer statute of limitations and various exceptions can extend the statute of limitations.

For white collar crimes, the statute of limitations is typically six years. Major fraud committed against the U.S. has a statute of limitations of seven years. Several immigration offenses have a 10-year statute of limitations.

If you are being investigated for a federal crime and you believe the alleged criminal conduct happened too long ago for you to face charges, call our Birmingham, AL federal lawyers as soon as possible.

Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers Today

If you are facing federal criminal charges, or you believe an indictment is coming, contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers right away.

Our federal criminal defense attorneys will protect your rights throughout the investigation and indictment process. If you are charged, we will aggressively defend you in court every step of the way.

Schedule a free consultation by calling (205) 981-2450 or submitting your information through our online form.

What is the difference between a federal charge and a state charge?

A federal charge means your case will go through the federal court system and you will face penalties under federal law. State criminal charges are controlled by Alabama law. Your case will go through Alabama’s criminal court system, and your penalty will be based on Alabama sentencing guidelines. The Alabama and federal criminal courts are two separate systems.

What does it mean if I've been indicted in a federal crime?

If you are indicted by a federal grand jury, it means your case will move forward in federal court. This indictment means a jury believed there was reasonable cause to charge you with violating a federal law. A federal district attorney will represent the federal government in pursuing a conviction.

When is a drug crime considered a federal crime?

There are several ways in which activities with controlled substances can be charged as a federal crime instead of an Alabama crime. Drug crimes will often be charged under federal law if they include large quantities of drugs, if the activity crossed state or national borders, if the activity took place on federal property, or if the crime was investigated by a federal agency.

Is identity theft a federal crime?

Yes, if you are accused of identity theft, you can face federal charges. Whether you will be charged with a federal or Alabama offense depends on the specific facts of your case.

When is a weapons crime a federal crime?

A weapons offense can be charged as a federal crime if you violated federal law, your criminal activity crossed state or national borders, if the offense occurred on federal property, or if you were investigated by a federal agency.