Most criminal cases in Maryland are heard in the state circuit courts located in one of Maryland’s eight judicial circuits. However, some crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the United States government and are prosecuted in federal court. Only certain attorneys are admitted to practice in federal court, so it is important to seek a consultation with a professional Maryland defense lawyer if you are facing these charges. Crimes that occur on federal property, involve federal funds, interstate or international transportation and/or wire transmission, or impact national security are examples of common charges typically prosecuted in federal court. Depending on the facts of your case, your Maryland federal criminal attorney may even choose to dispute the federal jurisdiction of the case. If you are facing federal charges, you will need a lawyer knowledgeable about the following areas of federal practice:
Read on to learn more about how a Maryland federal criminal attorney could make a difference in your case today.
Some of the most frequently prosecuted federal offenses are white-collar crimes including fraud, embezzlement, and perjury. White-collar is a term typically used to describe crimes that are traditionally committed by those who wear suits to work, hence the term white collar. A Maryland federal criminal attorney may have experience handling white-collar cases. Examples of white collar crimes often prosecuted in federal court include:
Other crimes commonly prosecuted as federal offenses include the distribution of child pornography, kidnapping, gun manufacturing, copyright infringement, extortion, cybercrimes, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and other offenses.
US Attorneys and other Department of Justice prosecutors present evidence gathered by government law enforcement agents and can prosecute federal court cases aggressively. Organizations that help with these investigations can potentially include the FBI, DEA, ATF, or the IRS.
If someone is being investigated by a federal law enforcement agency in Maryland, or if they suspect they may be under investigation, it is important to contact a qualified Maryland federal criminal attorney as early as possible to protect their rights during the investigation.
A distinguished Maryland federal criminal attorney can also help to build a defense in the event that formal criminal charges are brought against an individual in the form of an indictment. An indictment occurs when a grand jury who has heard evidence concerning certain crimes agrees that there is enough evidence to formally charge someone with a crime after a vote.
The United States Code includes numerous statutes defining, prohibiting, and punishing white-collar crimes. Title 18, Chapter 31 of the U.S. Code has 29 separate statutes pertaining to various types of theft or embezzlement.
These statutes involve theft or embezzlement of public funds, property, or records, theft by a bank examiner, and many other acts involving the misappropriation of federal funds. In general, federal embezzlement is punishable by a maximum of one year in prison if the value of the property does not exceed $1,000. If the property value is greater than $1,000 embezzlement is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. Some types of embezzlement, however, have extremely harsh penalties for those convicted, including:
Know that a knowledgeable Maryland federal criminal attorney can assist those facing these penalties by building a professional defense strategy for the accused in court.
Rape, sexual assault, and child molestation are typically charged as state crimes. With the proliferation of the internet, however, if such a crime involves multiple states or has occurred overseas, the offense may be prosecuted in federal court. Child pornography, for example, is commonly prosecuted in federal court when someone in Maryland allegedly distributes or receives sexually explicit images of a minor to or from someone in another state or from abroad. This can occur through file sharing on the internet or even directly sending child pornography through email or instant messaging, all of which are forms of interstate/international wire communications. Federal child pornography laws are codified in 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 110, entitled Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children. These laws prohibit the solicitation, manufacture, production, distribution, and possession of child pornography. They also mandate a legal requirement for adults to report child abuse, and they authorize several agencies to investigate and prosecute the sexual exploitation of children.
The FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative, Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) Child Exploitation and Operation Predator, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and various local Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces are responsible for investigating and eradicating interstate child sexual exploitation and such offenses committed overseas by US citizens and permanent residents. In Maryland, one may be eligible to consent to sexual acts at age 16, but under federal law, child pornography involves sexually explicit images of anyone under the age of 18. Thus, under federal law, no one may entice a minor under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts, including prostitution or pornography.
The federal government also investigates and prosecutes other internet-related sex crimes—such as the online solicitation of a minor, which occurs when an adult has sexually explicit chats with a minor in another state. If the internet-based conversation leads to travel across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor, the adult may be charged with several federal sex crimes including:
Federal law prohibits US citizens and permanent residents from traveling to a foreign country to engage in child prostitution or any sex act that would be illegal if it occurred in the United States, even if the act is legal in the destination country.
While state offenses are generally handled by Maryland Circuit Courts, federal crimes are prosecuted in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, located in Baltimore and Greenbelt. Federal appeals take place in the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Richmond, Virginia.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handles federal appeals from the cases decided in U.S. District Courts in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Approximately 97% of federal criminal cases are resolved by plea bargaining. Only about 3% are resolved through a jury trial. However, this does not mean that all is lost if someone is charged with a federal offense. It simply solidifies the need for a competent Maryland federal criminal attorney who is equipped to handle the challenges of a federal criminal case.
Being entrusted with federal money or a federal contract is a great responsibility. Inaccurate record keeping, acting under the direction of an unethical supervisor, and even an act of desperation in the face of financial difficulty can cause one to commit acts that lead to a federal criminal investigation. However, the US government, its attorneys, and its agencies are not infallible. Effective defense strategies can sometimes illustrate the flaws in the government’s prosecution, potentially providing a winning outcome for federal defendants in the best circumstances. Reach out to an experienced Maryland federal criminal defense attorney today to gain an aggressive advocate for your defense.