Federal Criminal Offenses
Criminal charges can be brought by State or Federal Law Enforcement agencies. Federal Criminal charges are prosecuted with the full force of the United States Government on behalf of the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) by assistant United States Attorneys (“AUSA”). The Federal Law Enforcement Agencies typically involved in Federal Criminal Investigations include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).
Federal Criminal charges differ from State charges in two significant ways. First, the DOJ often investigates Federal Criminal cases for years before bringing charges. This means that Federal charges are far more completely put together than most State cases before the person even knows s/he was even under investigation. The second major difference involves the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Guidelines are no longer mandatory, but they still take most discretion away from judges. At the best they give a judge an often high starting point in a sentencing decision. At worst they provide for sometimes harsh mandatory minimum sentences, especially the enhancer for having a gun during the commission of a crime.
The FBI investigates White Collar Crime, including Bank Fraud and Postal Fraud, as well as Bank Robbery and Hobbs Act, or Robbery cases with interstate commerce implications.
The DEA investigates larger drug cases. Most of these cases involve larger scale drug distribution conspiracies. Many people are convicted in Federal Court without ever being found with drugs on their person.
And the IRS investigates various Tax Fraud Cases, including filing fraudulent returns using fake ID numbers, as well as filing fraudulent personal returns which significantly understate the income and/or assets of an individual.