Federal Criminal Defense in Tampa

Congress has enacted nearly 5,000 federal criminal offenses and thousands of regulations that can be punished criminally. Federal criminal offenses are broadly worded and selectively enforced. In federal court, prosecutors enjoy broad charging discretion.

Both the discovery and procedural rules often favor the government. As a result, the power of the federal prosecutor has never been greater.

During a criminal investigation, you need an attorney who can fight the allegations at every stage of the case.

Federal crimes in the greater Tampa Bay area are prosecuted in the United States District Court in the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida. The Tampa Division serves Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota Counties.

The courthouse for the Tampa Division is headquartered in downtown Tampa, Florida, at the Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse.

The jurisdiction to prosecute the case within the federal criminal justice system might occur for any of the following reasons:

  • the crime impacts interstate commerce;
  • the crime happened on land owned by the federal government; or
  • the allegations involve a loss or harm to the federal government.

Attorneys for Federal Criminal Defense in Tampa, FL

If you need an experienced federal defense attorney for a crime being investigated or prosecuted within the federal criminal justice system out of the Middle District of Florida in the Tampa Division, call an attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

You might learn about the investigation for a violation of federal law when an FBI, DEA, or ATF agent knocks on your door. In other cases, you might receive a “target letter” from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida in the Tampa Division.

Even misdemeanor crimes might be prosecuted in federal court. Our federal defense lawyers represent clients served with a “United States District Court Violation Notice.”

Even traffic misdemeanor cases like DUI after an arrest at MacDill Air Force Base can be prosecuted in federal court.

No matter how the case started, we provide free and confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, possible defenses, and the attorney fees needed for your defense.

Visit our downtown Tampa, FL office, just one block from the Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Felony Investigations in Federal Court

More serious federal crimes include fraud, gun charges, drug crimes, immigration crimes such as illegal entry, or even sex crimes.

We understand the issues that can arise during the plea bargaining process. Those issues include Early Disposition Programs, substantial assistance, stipulations, Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreements, DOJ policies, and appeal waivers.

Recent statistics show that federal prosecutors have a 94% conviction rate. The penalties for federal crimes are severe. When you first learn that you are under investigation, contact an attorney before speaking to any law enforcement agent or investigator.

Federal prosecutors often joke about “picking the low-hanging fruit.” But it is no joke that certain federal offenses are easier to prosecute than others. Talking to a federal agent about what you did makes it infinitely easier for the prosecutor to file the charges and prosecute the case.

To exercise your rights, say: “I take the fifth and the sixth. I am not making any statements until I speak with my attorney.”

If you already have an attorney, you can say: “I’d like to contact my attorney.” If you cannot afford an attorney, remain silent until one is appointed to represent you.

After invoking your rights under the Fifth or Sixth Amendment, you should remain silent. If requested, you can provide your name, address, and date of birth without waiving your rights, but you are not required to answer other questions.

Your criminal defense attorney is often in the best position to help you provide your side of the story and present all mitigating or exculpatory evidence on your behalf.

Federal crimes involve a complete set of rules and procedures that require a certain level of skill and experience. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case today.

Target Letter in a Federal Criminal Investigation in Tampa

Many federal cases begin with a letter to the target of a federal criminal investigation (often called the “target letter”).

For a target letter from the United States Attorney’s Office for violations of federal law issued in the Middle District of Florida in the Tampa Division, the letter might explain that you are the target of a Federal Grand Jury investigation into criminal violations.

The target letter notifies you that the United States Attorney’s Office is prepared to proceed before a Federal Grand Jury to seek charges against you. The letter often says that before the United States Attorney’s Office proceeds to bring these formal charges against you, the federal prosecutor would like to discuss the matter with you and your attorney.

The letter will invite you or your attorney to contact the federal prosecutor as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. The letter often says that if the federal prosecutor does not hear from you or your attorney by a certain date, the federal prosecutor will assume you do not wish to discuss the matter and will proceed accordingly.

Act quickly to present exculpatory evidence and mitigation to the federal investigators and the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) assigned to the case. Letting your attorney advocate on your behalf during the early stages of the investigation often leads to the best results.

Sentencing Guidelines in Federal Court

The Federal sentencing guidelines were designed to mandate specific minimum sentences that the court considers at the time of sentencing. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines involve a complex maze of rules and factors that your attorney must evaluate carefully.

The Federal Courts have broad latitude to consider certain factors. Those factors might drastically reduce or increase the typical sentence. These decisions might be made during a sentencing hearing.

Hiring an experienced attorney can help set the stage to convince the court to impose the most favorable sentence possible if you decide to enter a plea to the charge instead of proceeding to trial.

Your attorney needs to understand the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

A federal criminal defense attorney might begin preparing the case for trial or pursue negotiations. Those two tasks go together because the more work done to prepare the case for trial, the more willing the prosecutor is to negotiate a better resolution.

When a pre-trial resolution is impossible, your federal criminal defense attorney must be prepared to file every viable motion to suppress or exclude prejudicial evidence. Before trial, your attorney must be prepared to file and litigate every viable motion to dismiss the charges.

The best possible result in these cases is getting the judge to dismiss the charges or getting the government to file a “motion to dismiss” under Rule 48(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and by leave of the Court, getting the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida to move to dismiss the case.

If a pre-trial resolution is impossible, your attorney must be prepared to take the case to trial to fight for a “not guilty” verdict.

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Federal criminal defense attorneys need to understand the procedural rules in federal court. Understanding how the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure might apply in a particular case often requires analyzing the applicable rules, leading cases, pertinent federal regulations, pertinent federal statutes, relevant constitutional provisions, and helpful secondary authorities.

The rules are amended over time. For example, effective December 1, 2020, Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) imposes additional requirements for the notice that the government must provide a defendant.

Who Investigates Federal Criminal Violations Crimes?

Many criminal violations occur on federal property, such as military installations, post offices, federal buildings, national wildlife refuges, a national forest, or the Veteran Affairs medical center. Other violations occur on privately owned land but involve violations of federal law.

Law enforcement officers and agents issue federal criminal violations for a variety of federal agencies located within the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, including:

  • Veteran Affairs (VA) Police;
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents;
  • U.S. Postal Police and Inspectors;
  • Military Security Forces;
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents, and
  • U.S. Park Police.

You must appear if the violation notice says a court appearance is mandatory. In some cases, your attorney can appear on your behalf after receiving permission from the court to waive your appearance.

If you do not hire an attorney and then fail to appear in court on the scheduled date and time, the court can issue a summons ordering you to appear or issue a warrant for your arrest.

The court might suspend your driving privileges and/or vehicle registration if the case involves a motor vehicle violation. In addition, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) might impose an additional reinstatement fee after the suspension is cleared.

The court often imposes probation, community service, or deferred prosecution instead of incarceration.

Finding a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa

Call the experienced attorneys at Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. Our offices are conveniently located just a block from the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa (known as the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse).

Let us put our experience to work for you for any criminal charge being prosecuted in federal court or for any serious felony criminal investigation conducted by federal agents. Whether your case involves a violation of the United States Code (USC) or the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), we can help.

Whether your charges are for an infraction, a misdemeanor, to a serious felony charge, having an experienced criminal defense attorney that understands the federal justice system can make all the difference in how your case is resolved.

We represent clients charged with various federal crimes, from white-collar crimes to drug trafficking to crimes involving the exporting or smuggling of firearms.

Call (813) 250-0500 today to discuss your case.

This article was last updated on Thursday, April 19, 2023.