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Charges in federal court are a different ballgame

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Both the State of Texas and the U.S. government can charge a Houston-area resident with crimes.

The local U.S. District Court, the Southern District of Texas, decides federal criminal cases in our area.

Likewise, often federal investigators take the lead when determining if someone broke federal law, and the local Office of the U.S. Attorney prosecutes the case.

There are many other important differences between a federal case and a criminal charge in a local state court.

  • Federal courts use different procedural rules than do the Texas courts. Even so, federal judges expect those that appear before them to follow these rules carefully.
  • Penalties for federal crimes tend to be stiffer than those imposed by the state courts. For example, convictions in federal court often carry mandatory minimum prison terms that would not apply in state court.
  • Likewise, how bond, probation, and parole work are very different in the federal system, and this can often lead to harsher results. For example, some people may find themselves detained without the possibility of a bond while waiting to resolve a federal charge.
  • The laws that federal authorities enforce are different from state laws and may be interpreted quite differently. The same holds true even for certain procedural rights a defendant has.
  • There are exceptions, but federal crimes tend to be more complicated and serious. For example, federal authorities investigate high-level drug offenses, complex white collar and fraud cases and environmental offenses.
  • Federal prosecutors and investigators have a reputation for being well-equipped, well-trained and extremely good at what they do. Federal prosecutors may draw a harder line on plea bargaining.

A person facing a federal criminal charge will want to know their options

Even a defense attorney with limited federal court experience can get tripped up and wind up making a serious mistake. A person facing a federal criminal charge will not want to go at it alone. They will need to understand their options thoroughly and know how to protect their rights in federal court.


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