New Jersey Federal Crimes Defense Attorney
Being charged with a federal crime in New Jersey should be taken very seriously. Facing the federal criminal justice system is much different from being in state criminal court. Federal prosecutors are among some of the most knowledgeable and experienced criminal law attorneys in the country.
Federal law enforcement and U.S. Attorney’s offices also have far more resources to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses than the resources of local or state prosecutors and generally have fewer cases over all to prosecute. This creates a very dauting task for any defendant’s defense team.
When you are facing serious federal criminal charges, you need aggressive, dedicated criminal defense attorneys who will fight to protect your rights in the criminal justice process. Unlike the often overworked federal public defenders, the experienced attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, have not only the experience but also the time to work diligently to help you pursue the best possible outcome in your federal criminal case.
Even though facing the federal criminal justice system can seem overwhelming, you never have to feel alone or that no one is standing up for your rights and interests.
Federal crimes often carry far harsher punishments than equivalent state criminal charges. If you are convicted of a federal criminal offense, you may end up serving years or even decades in federal prison. A federal criminal conviction can also have consequences long after you’ve served a prison sentence, including impacting your ability to secure employment, housing, financial services, or educational opportunities.
Contact us today for a free, confidential initial case evaluation to discuss your federal criminal charges with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys. We’ll explain how our firm can help you face federal criminal charges and work to seek an outcome in your case aimed at getting you back to your family and your normal life as soon as possible.
What Are Considered Federal Offenses in New Jersey?
Federal law criminalizes many of the same offenses as New Jersey state criminal law. However, an offender will be charged under federal law rather than state law when their criminal activity crosses state lines, involves the mail system or a telecommunications system, or victimizes the U.S. government or a federal employee or official.
Certain criminal offenses, such as counterfeiting, mail fraud, or violating immigration laws, are charged only at the federal level.
Examples of criminal activity that can be charged as a federal criminal offense in New Jersey include:
- Drug/CDS distribution
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Damage or destruction of federal property
- Theft of federal property
- Tax evasion or tax fraud
- Mail fraud
- Bank fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Securities fraud
- Medicare/Medicare fraud
- Violation of immigration laws
- Bank robbery
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
- Trafficking narcotics across state lines
- Transporting firearms across state lines
- Distribution of child pornography
- Racketeering activity
- Violent crimes committed against federal employees or officials
You can also be charged with federal criminal conspiracy charges to any of these criminal acts if you entered an agreement with one or more people to commit these acts.
How Are Federal Crimes Different from State Crimes?
By far, the majority of criminal cases are handled at the state level. There are fewer examples of federal crimes than state crimes because the federal government can generally pass laws only for crimes that impact multiple states or where the nation’s interests are infringed upon. Therefore, federal crimes tend to affect people across state lines, or they tend to include more serious drug charges, such as drug trafficking, or they tend to be financially related, such as tax evasion.
The federal government’s jurisdiction may extend over the following areas:
- Crimes where the criminal activity extends across state lines or the perpetrator physically crosses state lines – For example, an insurance fraud scheme may affect victims in multiple states
- Crimes that involve federal officers or take place on federal land – For example, a crime committed at a national park
- Customs and immigration issues – For example, smuggling weapons into or out of the U.S.
Any criminal charge is something to take seriously, but a federal crime conviction often carries a far harsher penalty than a similar criminal offense under state statutes. While state-level crimes tend to be investigated and prosecuted by the local police, sheriffs, state officers, and city or state attorneys, federal crimes tend to be investigated and prosecuted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
Penalties in Federal Criminal Cases
Many federal crimes carry sentences that can last for a decade or more, while the most serious criminal offenses can result in a sentence of life without parole or even the death penalty.
In federal criminal court following a conviction, judges use the federal sentencing guidelines to help determine a penalty for a criminal conviction. The federal sentencing guidelines use a point-based system to determine a sentencing range for an individual defendant. Points are tabulated across several factors, including the type of criminal offense, aggravating factors during the commission of the criminal offense, and the defendant’s criminal history.
Although the federal sentencing guidelines do not require a judge to impose the sentence provided under the guidelines, judges are required to consider the guidelines-recommended sentence. If a judge wishes to impose a sentence below or above the guidelines-recommended range, the judge must explicitly state the reasons for deviating from the guidelines.
However, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which require courts to impose a minimum term of imprisonment, are attached to certain criminal offenses. Many federal drug offenses are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, with the exact minimums dependent on the type of drug involved and the quantity of drugs seized from the defendant, along with other aggravating factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history and whether any injuries or death resulted from the defendant’s drug activity.
Potential Defenses to Federal Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Even though federal prosecutors rarely bring criminal charges unless they feel certain they can obtain a conviction, that doesn’t mean you don’t have defenses available to you to seek a reduction in the severity of your charges or even an outright dismissal of your charges or your entire case. Having experienced legal representation can be critical when raising defenses to your federal criminal charges in New Jersey.
Federal law and federal court rules often require you to provide federal prosecutors with notice of your intention to raise certain defenses. Other defenses can only be raised following a hearing with the district court for the judge to determine whether your defense has any merit. Failing to comply with these requirements can result in you being barred from raising your defense at trial, no matter how much merit it has.
Defenses potentially available in federal criminal case, depending on the circumstances, include:
- Identity (alibi defense) – You were not the individual who committed the charged offense.
- Selective or vindictive prosecution – The prosecution decided to file charges against you in an unfair or discriminatory manner.
- Entrapment – The government induced you to commit criminal activity you otherwise would not have committed.
- Mental defect (insanity defense)
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Necessity – You needed to commit the charged activity to avoid a greater harm
- Good faith/advice of counsel – You committed the charged conduct with a reasonable belief that you were acting lawfully.
- Lawful authority
- Statutory defenses
In many cases, it may be possible to defend against federal criminal charges by challenging the admission of the prosecution’s evidence. Without evidence, the prosecutor cannot prove their case. Commonly, the admission of evidence is challenged on the grounds that it was unlawfully obtained from you.
For example, you may argue that evidence was seized from your person, vehicle, home, or place of business without a valid search warrant, and none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applied. Or you might challenge the admissibility of statements you made to investigators on the grounds that your Miranda rights had been violated.
In many drug and weapons cases, you might also challenge the admission of physical evidence by arguing that the prosecution cannot prove that you had possession of the drugs or weapons, especially if they were not found on your person or in a vehicle or place that you had control of.
At Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, our experienced criminal defense lawyers can review the facts and evidence in your case to determine whether you have defenses available to you. If you have a potential defense, we will vigorously advocate that defense to seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed or to secure an acquittal at trial.
Why Choose Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC for Federal Criminal Defense Cases?
If you’ve been charged with federal crimes, you need experienced legal representation to help protect your rights, freedom, and future. Federal criminal cases often prove far more complex than state cases. That’s why it helps to have criminal defense attorneys with extensive experience in the criminal justice system.
With Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, you’ll have the assistance of criminal defense attorneys with real jury trial experience with all types of federal criminal offenses, including drug offenses and violent crimes.
Our partners Charles Clark and Ryan Clark formerly served as prosecutors leading major criminal units. As a result, our legal team has a unique, in-depth understanding of how prosecutors charge and try cases. That gives us a strategic advantage when advocating on behalf of our clients, including when we negotiate to secure plea deals or to have charges reduced or outright dismissed.
We prepare each client’s case to go to trial, although we do not always go to trial when a more favorable outcome for our clients is possible before trial. We often obtain reduced sentencing exposure for our clients through plea negotiations. However, you can trust that we will always advise you as to the best defense strategy for your case. We will pursue your case as far as necessary to pursue the best possible outcome for your charges.
We also recognize that facing federal criminal charges can place a great deal of anxiety and stress upon you. That’s why we always make ourselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to speak with our clients about their cases and to address any concerns or questions they may have.
Contact Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, today for a free and confidential consultation to speak with one of our experienced New Jersey federal criminal defense attorneys about your case. Let’s discuss your legal rights and your options for addressing and resolving your federal criminal charges.