Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys in Tampa, FL
Congress has enacted nearly 5,000 federal criminal offenses, along with 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 stronger.
You also need a federal criminal defense attorney who can fight the allegations against you at every stage of the case while advocating on your behalf for the best possible resolution to resolve the case before trial.
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 which 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 that is being investigated or prosecuted within the federal criminal justice system out of the Middle District of Florida in the Tampa Division, then 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.” One of the most common offenses prosecuted at MacDill Airport Base is Trespass on Military Property for Unlawful Purpose under 18 USC 138.
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.
Our office is located in downtown Tampa, FL, 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.
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, it is critical that you do NOT talk to any law enforcement agent or investigator. Instead, seek out the services of a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Federal prosecutors often joke about “picking the low-hanging fruit.” But it is no joke that certain types of federal offenses are easier to prosecute than others. If you talk to a federal law enforcement agent about what you did, then it makes it infinitely easier for the prosecutor to file the charges and prosecute the case.
To exercise your rights simply say: “I take the fifth and the sixth. I am not making any statements until after I speak with my attorney.” If you already have an attorney, you can say: “I’d like to contact my attorney who represents me in this matter.” If you cannot afford an attorney, then remain silent until one is appointed to represent you .
After you invoke your rights under the Fifth or Sixth Amendment, then you should remain still and quiet. 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. In many cases, those decisions that you make immediately after learning that you are a target of a criminal investigation are critical to the way the case is ultimately resolved.
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 will often say 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, that 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 very early stages of the investigation often leads to the best results.
Sentencing Guidelines in Federal Court
The Federal sentencing guidelines were designed to mandate certain minimum sentences that are considered by the court at the time of sentencing. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines involve a complex maze of rules and factors that must be evaluated carefully by your attorney.
The Federal Courts have broad latitude to take certain factors into consideration to drastically reduce or increase the typical sentence. This decision is often 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.
No matter the charge, your attorney needs to understand the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In most of these cases, your attorney is fighting to prepare the case for trial and to negotiate the best possible resolution short of trial. Often, 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 not possible, your federal criminal defense attorney needs to 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.
In the event that a pre-trial resolution is not possible, your attorney needs to 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 on December 1, 2020, Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) imposes additional requirements for the notice that the government is required to provide a defendant.
COVID-19 Related Federal Crimes
Right after banks began sending applications to the SBA for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, it became obvious that fraud was occurring.
Many of the complaints that a small business owner committed PPP fraud will begin with an employee who provides a tip to the authorities. Other investigations begin with an accusation by a bank compliance officer of fraudulent activities related to the PPP forgivable loans.
Right now, federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorneys Office (USAO), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the FBI, and the Treasury Department, are analyzing data from loan applications to find fraud.
The most common types of fraud committed during the PPP loan application process will involve:
- small business owners inflating the value of their payrolls;
- people file for businesses that didn’t exist; or
- people stealing the identities of legitimate businesses.
Read more about fraud complaints for PPP loans and other types of fraud connect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these cases involve seizures of funds from bank accounts by the U.S. Secret Service or other federal agencies.
Who Investigates Federal Criminal Violations Crimes?
Many of these 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.
Federal criminal violations are issued by law enforcement officers and agents 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.
If the violation notice says that a court appearance is mandatory, then you must appear in court. 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 date and time scheduled then the court can issue a summons ordering you to appear or issue a warrant for your arrest.
If the case involves a motor-vehicle violation, then the court might suspend your driving privileges and/or vehicle registration. In addition, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) might impose an additional reinstatement fee after the suspension is cleared.
In many of these cases, the court will impose 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 being 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, to 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 a wide variety of 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, July 8, 2021.