Many people do not know that the State and Federal governments each have separate criminal codes (statutes) and their own criminal courts. In other words, there are many bad acts for which a person can be charged in either State court, Federal court, or both (in rare cases).
Everyone knows that crimes committed while crossing state or international lines, and those in which interstate facilities are used, usually end up in Federal court. These commonly include interstate racketeering, tax crimes, organized crime, immigration, and certain crimes using the internet such as child pornography. Less obvious federal crimes that you would think would be in the local state courts would include robbery, drug dealing, and frauds (i.e. bank fraud, wire fraud, and mortgage fraud).
Regardless of the reason a case is “taken Federally,” when the United States Government targets a person, the prosecution is entirely different from a State case. Federal prosecutions are typically more in-depth and complex. Federal prosecutors have vastly more tools available, including investigators from a number of Federal agencies (FBI, DEA, IRS, Homeland Security, Secret Service, Postal Service, etc.), highly specialized forensic laboratories, and budgets that are typically many times greater than State prosecutors have.
People convicted of Federal crimes are sentenced based on the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines – a two-volume book that, in many cases, results in much longer prison sentences. Part of that process involves a lengthy investigation by the United States Probation Office about the details of the case and background of the defendant. The defendant and their lawyer can dispute that Probation report in hearings that happen before sentencing.
Another difference between Federal and State prosecutions in North Carolina and many states is that Federal prosecutors use “investigative grand juries” to strengthen their case before they even charge someone. This is often an opportunity for an experienced Federal criminal defense lawyer to actually prevent their client from being indicted. By conducting their own investigation and negotiating with the prosecutor and agents, some cases are “declined” before the person targeted is even arrested.
Rawls, Scheer, Clary, & Mingo’s criminal defense lawyers have many years of experience in both State and Federal court systems. Most lawyers have never appeared in Federal court. Three of RSCM’s lawyers are Board Certified Specialists in State and Federal Criminal Law, and have extensive experience in pre-charge grand jury investigations, negotiations, jury trials, and (when necessary), sentencing litigation.