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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerA federal crime is any offense that violates United States federal laws. These crimes are prosecuted by government agencies and can come with harsher punishments than state crimes. If you were recently charged with a federal offense, the steps you take afterward can have a large impact on the outcome of your case, including your chances of avoiding conviction or reducing your sentence.

Steps to Take If You Are Facing a Federal Criminal Charge

Facing a federal criminal charge can definitely be a frightening ordeal. However, it is important to maintain your composure and take the necessary steps to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

  • Understand whether you could face both federal and state charges. If you violated both federal and state laws, you may be up against both federal and state charges. This means that even if you get convicted or acquitted of a state crime, the government can still charge you with a federal crime. Knowing the stakes can help you choose the most appropriate response.

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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerIf you have been charged with a federal drug crime, it is crucial to have a skilled Illinois criminal attorney on your side. If convicted of a federal drug crime, you may face serious penalties, such as prison time and heavy fines. A lawyer will help you build a strong defense and protect your legal rights.

When Drug Crimes Become Federal Offenses

Some drug crimes are charged at the state level while others are charged at the federal level. You will likely be charged federally if you commit a drug offense on federal property, such as a national park. You may also be charged federally if you are caught manufacturing or trafficking illegal drugs, especially across state lines.

Types of Federal Drug Crimes

Federal drug crimes come with penalties beyond prison time. If you get convicted of a federal drug crime, you will have a permanent criminal record, making it more difficult to get a job and place to live. Here are several types of federal drug crimes:

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Illinois federal crime defense lawyerMany crimes have the potential to be charged at either the state or federal level. Prosecutors must come to an agreement as to which entity has jurisdiction, or whether both entities have jurisdiction, before they can proceed with charging a crime. Kidnapping is one of the crimes that can be charged in both state and federal courts. Federal kidnapping charges can be extremely serious and can end up landing you in prison for many, many years. If you have been charged with kidnapping at any level, you need assistance from a skilled Illinois kidnapping defense attorney.

Understanding Federal Kidnapping Crimes

According to the United States Code, kidnapping occurs when a person seizes, confines, abducts, or takes and holds for ransom any person. For the act to be considered a federal crime, one or more of the following elements must also be true:

  • The kidnapper transported the victim across state or country lines.

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Illinois federal crime defense lawyerIn light of events that have taken place across the country in recent years, you may have heard of various hate crimes taking place against many different individuals. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were more than 7,300 incidents of hate crime that took place across the country in 2019, the latest year for which the FBI has data. Hate crimes are often punished on the state level, but many people do not realize that they can be prosecuted on the federal level, as well. Various federal statutes have been put into place to help protect the rights of certain individuals.

Bias in Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, a crime is not a hate crime unless there is a bias that compelled a person to commit the crime. Hate crimes are usually traditional destructive or violent crimes, such as assault and battery or arson, that are committed toward a person specifically due to their real or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or disability.

FBI statistics show that the most common hate crimes occur in the U.S. toward individuals because of their race or religion. An overwhelming majority of more than 57 percent of hate crime incidents in 2019 were perpetrated against individuals because of their race, ethnicity, color, or origin. Most of those hate crimes—a little less than half—were motivated by anti-Black or African-American biases. The second-most reported bias for hate crimes is religion, specifically anti-Jewish or anti-Islamic biases.

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Illinois federal crime defense attorneyThere are various rights that all American citizens have been given by the U.S. Constitution. For example, we all have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peacefully assemble. One of the constitutional rights that comes into question in many criminal cases is your Fifth Amendment right against “double jeopardy,” or being tried for the same crime more than once. When you commit certain crimes, you may find that you face both state and federal charges for the same event. Many times, this is a result of committing a crime that takes place across state lines, but it can also be a result of various crimes that violate both state and federal laws. Though it may seem unfair, you can indeed face both state and federal charges for the same crime.

Understanding “Double Jeopardy”

To explain the legality of charging a crime on both the state and federal levels, you must first understand the two most important concepts that are involved: double jeopardy and dual sovereignty. Many people believe that being charged both by the state and the federal government is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment states that, “No person shall...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” This means that once a person is subject to certain charges, they cannot be subject to charges arising from the same incident again.

The Concept of “Dual Sovereignty”

Dual sovereignty is one of the exceptions to the double jeopardy rule. The concept of dual sovereignty is simply the idea that it is still constitutionally legal for both the state government and the federal government to press charges for the same instance of crime. The basis of this argument is that the levels of government are two different entities and therefore have the right to charge the defendant for the same crime. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on this previously and has stated that facing both state and federal charges for a single crime is legal as long as the course of action during the crime violated both state and federal laws.

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