There are several ways a person can be charged with a federal crime in Virginia. Criminal charges often become federal offenses when it is unclear where the alleged offense took place. In such instances, a criminal offense may be prosecuted by either state or federal prosecutors. To learn more about federal offenses, contact a Virginia federal criminal lawyer.
The most common federal charges involve the use of drugs. Drug charges can be brought either by a state or a federal authority, and the decision as to which one depends largely upon the investigating body that discovered the alleged criminal activity. In many cases with drug charges, you will find that the government is a part of a joint task force involving both local and state authorities. They will use their discretion to determine whether or not it is appropriate to file state or federal charges.
Another very common charge in the federal system has to do with financial crimes. This can include welfare fraud, tax fraud, health-related fraud such as Medicare fraud and any other kind of fraud which involves interstate commerce. These charges can be referred to as white collar offenses. Interstate commerce is triggered anytime the offending party uses anything that has any ties to interstate activity, such as the U.S. mail, the internet or telephones. Any of these activities can be tied in to federal statutes.
Another common way in which people are charged with federal crimes in Virginia is if they commit crimes on federal enclaves. These are properties that belong to the Unites States government but are located within the borders of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The most common way that we see people get charged in the federal court here in Northern Virginia is by committing traffic offenses on the George Washington Memorial Parkway or any other property owned by the federal government. In Northern Virginia there are quite a few areas owned by the government including all the military bases, the CIA, and the Pentagon. Even minor traffic infractions charged on federal property will be charged in federal court.
Attempts are very different from conspiracies. An attempt is an actual effort to commit a crime, but that crime is incomplete for whatever reason. A perfect example is a situation where a person attempts to buy drugs from an undercover agent, but is sold something which actually is not drugs or they never actually complete the transaction. They have gone to the effort of trying to procure the illegal drugs; they showed up at the site, they had the money in hand, they attempted to negotiate, and then are arrested before the crime is actually completed.
Conspiracy is very different in the sense that all it requires is an agreement with another person to commit a crime. And in some conspiracy statutes no further activity is needed in order to establish the completion of that crime. In other conspiracy statutes, at least one member of the conspiracy is required to complete some act in furtherance thereof. For example, two people decide they are going to rob a bank. Out of that agreement, one of the pair goes to a local sporting goods store and buys ski masks in preparation. At this point, even if they never actually go near the bank or make any attempt to rob it, the simple act of one of the conspirators procuring those ski masks makes them both guilty of conspiracy. Whether someone has been charged with attempt or conspiracy, they should contact a federal criminal defense lawyer in Virginia as soon as possible.
You can absolutely be charged with conspiracy and the underlying offense. In fact, those charges can appear rather frequently in Virginia. The prosecutors and the federal court love conspiracy charges because they consider them much easier to prove, especially if the underlying offense has been completed. They consider the completion of the underlying offense all the evidence they need that two or more people agreed to actually commit the offense. That is only true in cases where there are multiple defendants.
On the other hand, attempt cannot be charged along with the underlying offense because the legal elements of those two are mutually exclusive. The underlying offense must be completed for it to be charged. However, if it is a completed offense then they cannot charge a person with attempt, because the attempt requires that the offense not be completed. For an attempt in Virginia to be charged, it would necessitate that those involved actively tried to carry out their plan and were foiled or were unsuccessful in another way.