While states have their own laws, some types of crime can also be tried on a federal level if they occur on government property, if they are direct crimes against the government such as tax evasion or, in some cases, if they are severe enough to also violate federal laws.
Federal crimes are not limited to the above examples, and any type of crime could be tried in federal court if it occurs on federal property, such as a OWI charge in a state park.
Federal cases begin with an investigation by whichever federal agency is bringing the charges. Many agencies have their own process. For example, an IRS investigation of tax evasion may look very different from an investigation by the FBI for a kidnapping charge. Some agencies will notify you of the investigation, while others will not. If you know or suspect you are the target of a federal investigation, contact our office immediately. Never face law enforcement agents without an attorney to advise you.
Once law enforcement officers think they have grounds to make an arrest, they will charge you. You will have an initial hearing where you will be informed of your charges and appointed counsel, and the judge may make an initial decision regarding bail. At this point, you and your attorney will begin preparing for trial, and the prosecutor may offer a plea deal. If you do not enter a plea bargain, you will continue to prepare for trial. This includes conducting discovery, attending preliminary hearings and filing pretrial motions. The trial is held before a jury, which will determine your guilt or innocence.
If you do not hire your own lawyer to defend you in federal court, one will be selected for you. It is imperative that you reach out to an attorney as soon as you are charged. Choosing your own attorney means you can be assured of their experience and work closely with them before a trial occurs.
Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., is not only a highly regarded Wisconsin firm, but we also have a vast network of experts such as investigators and forensic consultants who assist with criminal defense cases. This is a huge advantage to our clients, as it allows a much more thorough analysis and stronger defense than other firms may be able to offer.