Las Vegas Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys
What Is Considered A Federal Crime in Nevada?
Many types of crimes are prosecuted, tried, and resolved at the state level. When an alleged criminal offense involves the federal government, national security, or interstate commerce, federal criminal charges can result. Being charged with a federal crime in Nevada carries substantially different implications than being charged with a state crime, as the charges will be adjudicated in an entirely different court system with its own set of complex procedures and rules.
We can defend you in cases involving many types of federal charges, including:
- Racketeering (RICO)
- Tax Fraud
- Money Laundering
- Securities Fraud
- Banking Fraud
- Interstate Drug Charges
- Crimes Involving Federal Property or Agents
Our Las Vegas federal criminal defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. have a complete familiarity with the federal court system and can defend you when you face federal charges. We have many decades of combined litigation experience and can leverage our knowledge, resources, and skills to develop a successful legal strategy and fight for a favorable outcome in your case.
What Constitutes a Federal Crime in Nevada?
The United States Attorneys Office of the District of Nevada is an agency made up of federal prosecutors called Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs). These prosecutors pursue charges on behalf of the federal government. They also often work with relevant federal agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to investigate the offense.
Federal charges can be imposed when an alleged crime:
- Impacts national security. This catchall gives the federal government the ability to intercede when they feel a crime warrants their attention.
- Involves crossing state lines. The federal government will generally get involved when any crime takes place in multiple states. This can include offenses that would otherwise be charged as state crimes.
- Occurs on federal property or involves one or more federal employees. You are required to be
- Involves the defrauding of a federal agency. You are required to be truthful when submitting official government forms, filing taxes, or applying for government benefits. Defrauding agencies like the IRS or scheming to illegally obtain government benefits that you do not qualify for can result in federal charges.
- Impacts interstate commerce. The federal government has the ability to “regulate commerce,” so crimes that threaten or negatively impact any type of interstate commerce typically fall under its jurisdiction.
- Involves customs or immigration violations. Importing or smuggling illicit goods or engaging in human trafficking will typically lead to federal charges.
Several categories of federal crimes are regularly prosecuted in Nevada, many of which involve fraud. These can include banking fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Many crimes carried out over the Internet can trigger federal charges, as digitally involving parties from multiple states counts as “crossing state lines.” Racketeering charges, often called “RICO” crimes, involve organized criminal enterprises and are prosecuted at the federal level.
How Federal Cases Are Tried in Nevada
A federal case will typically start with an investigation and indictment. If the AUSA assigned to your case believes that there is sufficient evidence that you committed a federal crime, they will assemble a grand jury of local Nevadans. The AUSA will present their case, and the grand jury will vote whether or not to arraign you. Should the AUSA get enough votes, they will be granted a charging document that gives them authority to arrest you.
Because an indictment must take place before an arrest in most (but not all) cases, you may be aware of an ongoing investigation before you are formally charged. If you are aware that you are suspected of committing one or more federal crimes, it is important that you avoid answering questions or making any statements without first consulting professional legal representation. Federal agents may insist that you are being uncooperative and that refusing to talk to them will reflect poorly on you, but it is imperative that you exercise your right to remain silent before and immediately following an arrest.
Should you be arrested and have not already retained legal representation, you should immediately contact our Las Vegas federal criminal defense attorneys to discuss the charges and your options. An arraignment will be scheduled, where you will enter a plea and bail will be set.
The AUSA assigned to your case will typically offer a plea bargain during the ensuing pretrial proceedings. We are experienced litigators and can advise whether it makes sense to accept a plea bargain at any point throughout the process.
During the pretrial phase, our legal team will get access to all of the prosecution’s evidence. This can include witness testimony, law enforcement reports, financial records, and, in some cases, wiretap transcripts. We will carefully review this evidence, along with your documentation and testimony, to develop an effective legal strategy.
Federal criminal trials function fairly similarly to Nevada state criminal trials. Both involve juries evaluating the testimony and cross-examination of witnesses as well as the opening and closing statements of the prosecution and defense. The jury will ultimately decide whether to convict. If they cannot reach a unanimous decision and a mistrial is declared, the federal government must determine whether to retry the case with a different jury.
Penalties for Federal Crimes
When convicted of a federal crime, the judge presiding over your trial will determine the sentence. Given the wide range of federal crimes, penalties can range from prison time to substantial fines to community service. The severity of the penalties will generally depend on the nature of the offense.
Judges may reference Federal Sentencing Guidelines, but they are not obligated to follow them. In many cases, judges can be convinced to hand down significantly lighter sentences than what the Federal Sentencing Guidelines recommend. If convicted of a federal crime, we can work to minimize the penalties imposed.
Appealing Federal Convictions
Those convicted of one or more federal crimes have the ability to appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Appealing does not involve a new trial, and the Ninth Court will not hear or review any new evidence or testimony. The Ninth Circuit will assess the case and determine whether any judicial errors unfairly influenced the outcome. They can also evaluate the fairness of a harsh sentence.
The Ninth Circuit can ultimately elect to overturn the lower court’s guilty verdict, uphold their original verdict, or require that the case be retried. We can help develop a strategy for and prepare your Ninth Circuit appeal.
If appeals prove unsuccessful, those convicted of federal crimes can also file a writ of habeas corpus. This petition asserts that the original decision was unfair and should be reexamined on one of several accepted grounds.
Grounds to file a writ of habeas corpus in Nevada include:
- New evidence relevant to the case has become available
- Evidence used by the prosecution is proved to be misleading or fraudulent
- A U.S. Supreme Court decision has given a new constitutional basis to challenge a decision
Our Las Vegas federal criminal defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. are prepared to do everything possible to secure a favorable outcome in your case. We will aggressively defend you throughout trial proceedings and can assist you in exploring all of your appeals options.