Everyone in California is under the jurisdiction of two distinct courts systems – the State Judiciary and the United States Judiciary. Many serious crimes, such as drug, sex, and violent offenses, are prohibited by both Californian and federal law.
Examples of Federal CrimesA federal defense attorney is required for any case that is tried in federal court. Usually, these are restricted to cases that affect national security, cross state lines, or involve federal property. These crimes include (but are not limited to):
Bank robbery, Wire fraud, Federal property crimes, Money laundering, Organized crime, Major art or jewelry theft, White collar crimes, Terrorism, Espionage, Cyber crimes, Hate crimes, Human trafficking, Child pornography, Kidnappings
If you've been accused of any of these crimes or have been informed that the FBI is investigating your case, get a federal defense attorney immediately before talking to the police or federal agents.
Dual Sovereignty vs. Double JeopardyAlthough rare, if you've committed a federal offense, your case may be tried twice - once in state court and once in federal court. The sentences will stack and can easily put you in prison for most, if not the rest of your life. Many clients mistakenly believe that if their case begins in one court they cannot be tried in another because of their constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
However, double jeopardy does not eliminate the possibility that your case may be tried twice. It only protects you from being tried twice by the same court jurisdiction or "sovereign." Because federal crimes are prohibited by both the state and the federal government, these crimes are a dual offense against two separate sovereigns and thus may be prosecuted once by each. This is why, if there is any chance that your case may end up in federal court - even if it begins in state court - you should hire a federal defense attorney from the very beginning.
Call An Attorney Right AwayThese federal offenses are usually tried by the state, but, depending on the circumstances, could end up in a federal court or be tried by both courts in turn. How it plays out is up to the governments alone - neither you nor your lawyer can control that outcome.
However, what you can control is whether or not you plan ahead for the possibility that your case could end up in federal court by hiring a federal defense attorney from the very start. Not all attorneys have been admitted to the federal bar and many of those who have been admitted practice there very seldom. If you've committed a federal crime, whether it is uniquely federal or prohibited by both the federal and state governments, you should take great care to hire a lawyer who has the credentials and experience to handle your case through the entire process.