Fraud charges will always be at the federal level if a federal entity is involved. If it’s a state entity, then the preferred venue is state court. However, in cases where the federal government might want to prosecute a person, if they can make a showing that interstate commerce was affected by the fraud or was used in the commission of the fraud, then they could elect to charge in federal court. For federal felony fraud charges, the experience and help of a Virginia federal government fraud lawyer is invaluable.
Even though someone may be facing a federal government fraud charge, their trial could take place in a Virginia court. If a crime is alleged to have been committed within the borders of Virginia, then it’s likely that government officials are going to prosecute in Virginia. Whether it’d be a state or federal court, it’s always going to be prosecuted in the locality where the crime is alleged to have occurred.
Each fraud charge is similiar in the sense that there will be a fairly similar process, but everything in federal court is different. There are still probable cause hearings in both jurisdictions, there is still the right to a trial by jury in both jurisdictions. The biggest difference is what happens after a conviction is sustained. In federal court, there is an entirely different set of sentencing guidelines than that which would be used in Virginia state court.
Additionally, the pre-trial process is substantially different in federal court. In federal court, there are expansive discovery rules that allow a defendant access to virtually every single piece of evidence that the government intends to introduce at trial. In Virginia, discovery rules are far more limited.
If convicted of a federal felony for committing fraud against a government program, a person would be subjected to federal sentencing guidelines. Every case begins with determining the base offense level, which is determined by the specific statute under which the person was convicted. That’s the first step in the process to determine what the guideline recommendation will be.
The next step in the process is determining the loss amount. Loss amount means the amount of money that the government alleged was obtained by the defendant as a result of the fraud. The guidelines have a sliding scale of points that get assessed depending on the loss amount. The higher it is the more points get assessed. Then other factors that could either increase or decrease the points that a person would receive when they calculate the sentencing guidelines come into play.
At the end of this process, a Virginia government fraud attorney will have a number that is called the offense level. From there the lawyer will reference a table in the federal sentencing guidelines where there is clearer information about what the offense level is. Then it’s necessary to consider a person’s criminal history is. Using that table a federal government fraud attorney will be able to approximately determine the sentencing range.
The long-term implications of a fraud conviction are that a person would have a felony on their record, which is going to make future employment difficult. Because that conviction is for a fraud, then they’re subjected to even more scrutiny for the rest of their lives because it’s known that they’ve already committed a fraudulent act and were convicted of it.