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- Gabriel V.

Federal Crimes

Making a Federal Case

Federal criminal cases are serious battles with life and death consequences. In one corner are case-hardened Federal prosecutors - experienced and sharpened. In the second corner are Federal judges - they’ve seen it all, their dockets are loaded, they are smart and efficient and they now have greater power over sentencing, based on Federal guidelines.

In your corner, you need someone who is as tough as the prosecutors and understands the psychology of judges. If you are accused of a crime that becomes a Federal case, the first move you make is to contact Trenton and Newark Federal criminal defense attorney Tara Breslow-Testa.

Talk to Tara first before you talk to anyone else, because the Federal court system is complicated and perilous, and requires an experienced legal navigator to present the best possible defense. Federal crimes often come with penalties more severe than state law. If you have been accused of tax evasion, have immigration issues, unwittingly committed mail fraud or stood for a public portrait holding a bloody head representing a decapitated American president, Federal criminal defense lawyer Tara Breslow-Testa serving Monmouth, Essex, Mercer, Ocean County residents is the person you should speak with first. Tara Breslow knows the type of United States Attorneys you will be up against, she understands the calculus of Federal sentencing guidelines, and the psychology of Federal Judges. Federal criminal cases are serious battle, but Ms. Breslow-Testa isn’t afraid of a fight and she is prepared to defend you in Federal court.

Title 18: From Arson to War Crimes

Federal criminal law covers a wide array of offenses, most but not all of them listed in the 123 chapters of Title 18 of the US Code: Crimes and Criminal Procedures. There you will find crimes ranging from Arson to War Crimes and a lot in between: Bank Robbery, Bankruptcy, Biological Weapons, Child Pornography, Civil Rights, Drug Conspiracy, Identity Theft, Kidnapping, Lacey Act, Nationality and Citizenship, Torture and Terrorism.

There is even the Lacey Act, which forbids the buying and selling of tigers and other flora and fauna.

Federal laws are so complicated, it is possible you have broken a Federal law without knowing it. Crimes that might otherwise be tried in state courts become Federal cases when state lines are crossed, or the United States Postal Service is (ab)used. The guidelines for prosecuting Federal cases are established by the United States Attorney in 94 federal judicial districts, and by laws passed by the United States Congress.

Most Common Federal Crimes

According to statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission: “cases involving drugs, immigration, fraud, or firearms constituted the vast majority of federal felonies and Class A misdemeanors. This trend continued in fiscal year 2015, as these crimes accounted for 81.6 percent of all cases reported to the Commission.”

These are the most common categories of federal crimes, with some definitions and subcategories:

Drug offenses: Trafficking, smuggling, importing of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, other opioids and listed chemicals.

Immigration: False statements, crossing border illegally, smuggling,

Non-Fraud White Collar: Corporate fraud, financial deception, fraudulent trades, insider trading, tax violations.

Fraud: Fake ID, insurance or mortgage fraud, bank and check and credit card fraud, prescription and Medicare or Medicaid fraud.

Firearms: Illegal sales, armed robbery or assault, felon in possession, weapon used in drug crime.

Public corruption: Campaign finance violations, bribery, gratuity, mail and wire fraud.

Money laundering: Handling, transportation, hiding and conversion of money instruments from unlawful activities.

Child Pornography: the First Amendment does not protect the visual depiction including, videos, photographs, whether it be digital or computer images, and images modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor.

Conspiracy: “When two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States…”

Assault on Federal officers

Federal property crimes: Crimes committed on military bases, national parks, other Federal properties.

You Have the Right to Speak to Tara

Federal crimes are investigated by a number of Federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) or United States Secret Service (USSS). If any of these agents contact you, it is advisable in invoke your Miranda Rights. The 1966 Miranda Warning is a Federal law which states: “The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he/she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he/she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him/her.

The Federal investigators are sworn to respect your Miranda rights and then it’s a good idea to call Monmouth County federal criminal defense lawyer Tara Breslow-Testa right away for guidance.

Eleven Federal Steps

There are several steps involved in a criminal case, and any one of them can be slippery: Investigation, Charging, Initial Hearing/Arraignment, Discovery, Plea Bargaining, Preliminary Hearing, Pre-Trial Motions, Trial, Post-Trial Motions, Sentencing, Appeal.

The Grand Jury Process

As part of the Charging step, a Federal prosecutor will study information from investigators, the accused and other parties and write an indictment. The person accused is informed of the indictment, and the prosecutor present the evidence to a Grand Jury - an impartial group of 16 - 23 citizens who do not know the accused and are sworn to secrecy over the evidence.

Billa Vera or Ignoramus

If a Grand Jury believes there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial, they return an indictment of “billa vera” or “true bill.” If the grand jury is not convinced there is a Federal case to be made, they return a decision of “ignoramus” or “not a true bill.”

A Grand Jury hearing can take a couple of hours, a couple of days, or a year. Some Federal cases are highly complex. The stakes are high but a good attorney can sometimes have a case thrown out at the Grand Jury stage. If you are called before a Grand Jury it is advisable to go in with Tara Breslow-Testa by your side - and begin a defense which could fend off an indictment, reduce the charges, or have your involvement in a crime reduced from “accused” to “person of interest,” “unindicted coconspirator” or just “witness.”

Indicted We Stand

If a Grand Jury indicts you of a Federal charge, life gets serious, as Federal crimes carry penalties as severe as life in prison without parole, the death sentence and the loss of fundamental rights and privileges. Tara Breslow-Testa understands the stress and anxiety that come with Federal charges and she is trained and prepared to go all she can to defend you in court.

Federal criminal prosecution is complicated, but there are loopholes that only an experienced attorney will know. Tara Breslow-Testa has the experience to guide you through the entire process, and do all she can to diminish your criminal exposure along the way, through Initial Hearing/Arraignment, Discovery, Plea Bargaining, Preliminary Hearing, Pre-Trial Motions, Trial, Post-Trial Motions, Sentencing, Appeal.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Are Now Advisory

The 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Booker had a profound effect on the Federal sentencing system - which changed the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for all federal criminal cases from mandatory to advisory. That decision gave Federal judges a great deal of leeway and discretion in handing down sentences - and created a window for creative federal criminal law attorneys to negotiate better deals for their clients.

Judges now must still refer to the sentencing guidelines and do a guidelines calculation, but they then can hand down a sentence that is “sufficient but greater than necessary” as punishment for someone convicted of a Federal crime.

This chance from mandatory to advisory guidelines has created opportunities for creative attorneys to ask for sentences that are fair and lenient. Tara Breslow-Testa is that creative attorney.

The Calculus of Sentencing

Federal courts are busy, Federal prisons are overcrowded and Federal judges are sometimes eager to ease the burden on courts and prisons by making plea deals - close to 90% of all Federal crimes end in plea agreements. Tara Breslow-Testa understands the complicated math of Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the psychological give and take of making plea agreements with Federal judges. Tara’s knowledge and creativity can often result in profound reductions in prison time, fines and other consequences.

Creative, Conscientious, Compassionate

Federal cases are battle. Serious battle. Federal prosecutors are educated, experienced, ambitious, efficient and battle hardened. Federal judges are busy and have seen and heard it all. In your corner of the legal triangle, an experienced attorney can literally mean the difference between life and death. Tara Breslow-Testa enjoys the battle and has had tremendous success defending citizens convicted of Federal crimes. Before you talk to anyone, contact Tara at (732) 784-2880