Most criminal charges in Southern Florida are for alleged violations of state law. However, federal law contains multiple possible criminal violations. These can pertain to drugs, child pornography, fraud or a wide range of other areas.
Federal charges are typically investigated by a federal agency, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the Secret Service. They are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney in a federal court, like the one in Fort Lauderdale. If a person is convicted , they face time in federal prison — which, despite what many think, is not a “country club.”
Fort Lauderdale Federal Defense Lawyer
Your attorney in such a case must be licensed to practice in the U.S. District where charges are heard, and should be familiar with Federal Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence. At Meltzer & Bell, we are skilled and experienced at representing people in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, which covers all of Broward County.
From our Fort Lauderdale office, we represent clients who face charges in federal courts across Broward County, including Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Weston and Wilton Manor.
Call a skilled Fort Lauderdale federal defense lawyer today at (954) 765-6585 to schedule a free consultation.
Info on Federal Charges in Florida
- Crimes in the U.S. Code
- Mandatory Minimum Sentences Under Federal Law
- “Downward Departure” in Federal Cases
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Crimes in the U.S. Code
Federal law covers a broad range of offenses. Some of the more common ones can include those pertaining to:
- Drugs: The Controlled Substances Act outlaws and regulates a range of different drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The mere possession is illegal. Federal officials tend to be especially interested in trafficking charges, which carry mandatory minimum sentences.
- Fraud: Fraud becomes a federal matter when it crosses state lines, utilizes a federal agency or defrauds a federal program. Mail fraud and wire fraud, which could include any fraud that occurs over the internet or email, are very common.
- Child Pornography: Federal statutes prohibit materials depicting minors engaged in sexual acts. If such materials are alleged to be sent over the internet or in the mail, the U.S. government may step in to press charges.
- Human Trafficking: Transporting people without legal status for work is illegal. Penalties are especially harsh if it is alleged the people are sex workers.
- Trafficking or Smuggling: Carrying anything across the border without legal permission could be considered trafficking. Trafficking items include:
- Bulk cash
- Endangered animals or the products of endangered animals
- Racketeering (RICO): Racketeering charges, or “Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)” are geared toward “criminal organizations.” U.S. Attorneys show certain predicate offenses that lead to these accusations.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences Under Federal Law
Many federal offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences. If convicted of one of these offenses, the judge has no discretion. The defendant must serve at least that sentence. A few mandatory minimums are:
- 10 years for a first offense of possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (21 U.S.C. § 841(a))
- Five years for a first offense for possession with intent to distribute 100 – 999 grams of heroin, 500 – 4,999 grams of cocaine, or 100 – 4,999 grams of marijuana (21 U.S.C. § 841(a))
- 20 years for either above offense if death or serious injury results, including an overdose
- Life in prison for a second offense in which death or serious injury results
- One year for drug distribution near a school or similar facility (21 U.S.C. § 860(a))
- One year for knowingly employer a person younger than 18 in a drug operation (21 U.S.C. § 861(c))
- 15 years for engaging in explicit conduct with a child for purpose of creating a visual depiction (child pornography) (18 U.S.C. § 2251(a))
“Downward Departure” in Federal Cases
If a person implicated in a criminal conspiracy gives federal investigators or prosecutors substantial assistance, the U.S. Attorney may offer a “downward departure.” A downward departure is one way to achieve a lesser sentence under Federal Sentencing Manual § 5K1.1.
The downward departure is typically offered as part of a deal struck between prosecutors and defense. The defendant must be extremely careful. By giving information, he or she could be admitting guilt and giving evidence against himself or herself. If the deal falls through, he or she may be in a much weaker position in his or her defense.
It is critical that you be well-represented in this deal to carefully work out all details. Never give the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida or federal law enforcement agents information assuming you will get a lighter sentence. Let a skilled Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer represent you.
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Each U.S. District Court covers either an entire state or a district within a state. Florida is divided into three districts. Broward County is located entirely within the Southern District of Florida. There are several courthouses, including one in Fort Lauderdale:U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
299 East Broward Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Any matters appealed from a Southern District decision are heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, located in Atlanta.
Finding the Best Defense Attorney for Charges in Southern U.S. District of Florida
If you are being investigated by federal agents or face charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which includes Broward County, have an experienced Fort Lauderdale federal defense lawyer represent you. We will seek the best possible results for you. Call us today at (954) 765-6585 to set up a free consultation.