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Federal Property Crimes

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When it comes to trespassing on federal lands, I’ve seen a lot of these cases.  A lot of times the person just gets some sort of a ticket and they have to pay a fine.  But if it’s a little more serious than that, for example, some of the people who are committing crimes on federal lands can be charged with felonies and nobody wants any type of a federal felony on their record.

Nobody wants to try to have to defend a federal property crime where you’re looking at potential time in custody and a conviction that would stay with you for the rest of your life unless you’re able to get it pardoned by the President of the United States, which is obviously not an easy task to do.

Federal property crimes can manifest in a variety of ways, such as by someone illegally poaching, fishing where they should not be, or stealing artifacts from federal lands. If someone has committed a crime on federal property and is being investigated, they should obtain an experienced attorney who will take all of the precautions and affirmative moves necessary in order to get them out of the federal system as quickly as possible.

The bottom line is, you don’t want one of these federal property crimes and you obviously want to do everything you can to avoid getting one.  Where I’m seeing the feds getting involved is where you’re on federal land and they can see that you’re up to no-good — either you’re hunting endangered species or hunting things on federal land that you’re not allowed to — or I’ve seen other situations where people go on burial grounds and putting themselves in a position where they’re stealing artifacts.  Things in that vein of that nature as far as federal crimes go — you’re really putting yourself in a difficult position, where you’re potentially going to end up with a felony on your record and time in custody.  So, you want to make sure that whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re not on federal lands to commit a crime.

Another example would be if you’re committing a DUI — you’re driving under the influence on federal property.  Again, I see a lot of wildlife behavior related to federal lands that’s being prosecuted in such a way that the person ends up with a conviction that they don’t want to have.

So, what we have you do is, we have you come into the office, sit down and speak in the privacy of my law firm so that we can really get down to the nitty-gritty of what happened because in a lot of these federal property crimes there’s a different version of events.

In other words, the feds don’t have all the factual information that is available and obviously, you can provide that information to me and we can talk about it and strategize (1) whether you have a defense; and (2) even if you don’t have a complete defense to the crime, should it be some lesser crime?  Or, is it a situation where can get this thing plea bargained and work something out to try to protect your record and protect your freedom which is a big thing obviously for most people?

Federal Property Related Offenses

So, pick up the phone.  Make the call if you have a federal property crime, no matter what your circumstance, and in my experience having done this twenty-five years, there can be all sorts of federal property-related offenses and different angles that the feds use to prosecute people, put them in custody, and take away their rights.  So, we really want to get on this thing and get a strategy right from the beginning if you are charged with some form of a federal property crime in one of the District Courthouses.

At the Hedding Law Firm, we understand that difficult situation you are put in when facing a federal criminal charge. We also understand the team of prosecutors that come against you when any such crime is committed on federal or government property.

Any type of crime, such as but not limited to, theft, vandalism, arson, DUI, burglary, drug crimes, weapon charges, done on federal or government property may be charged as a federal property crime. Federal property crime convictions may result in serious penalties. Federal Property includes, but not limited to, post offices, military bases, courthouses, national forests and parks, any federal administrative buildings.

What Makes A Theft Charge A Federal Offense?

The federal government has discretion on which cases they file and which cases they don’t file. They’re typically going to get involved with cases that are more complicated than your average offense. For example, when someone is committing bank fraud at an ATM. They’re using encoded cards, they’re stealing people’s identities, and they’re taking out thousands of dollars. Investigators are going to have to be able to go to different banks and conduct surveillance. They’re not going to let the state deal with that; the feds will pick that up. If someone is just going in and robbing a liquor store, it is likely to be handled by the state.

Another factor is the scale of whatever crime is going on and the amount of money that’s being taken. A lot of times, I will see multi-agency investigations where the feds will decide that they’re going to deal with the case. If you had a general litmus test for which cases the federal government is going to take, it’s going to have to do with how large a scale of money is being taken, how sophisticated the operators are, and whether it involved multiple states.

I often see both state and federal agencies get involved in an investigation to assess the offense. Usually, this happens in a more elaborate or sophisticated scheme, where multiple agencies are going to have to get involved to effectively investigate the theft and then the choice will be made as to whether the feds or the state is going to prosecute it.

Sometimes, thefts are sophisticated and it takes multiple agencies to truly investigate them effectively. If it’s complicated and it involves multiple jurisdictions, you can usually anticipate the feds are going to deal with it because they’ve got a lot of investigation power. They’ve got G.P.S. tracking systems and wiretapping warrants, so they can get they can listen to conversations. They’ve got the ability to assign multiple FBI agents to investigate a particular crime whereas, at the state level, resources and manpower are limited.

The government has the ultimate say on who prosecutes your case. It really has to do with whether or not your criminal activity falls within federal jurisdiction. If it does, then they can prosecute. If it doesn’t fall within their jurisdiction, then it can be argued that they shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute you because they do not have jurisdiction to deal with that particular case.

As far as moving cases between the state and federal government, that’s going to be up to the prosecuting agency and you have very limited say, as a defendant, on who prosecutes you. It will be up to your attorney to make the decision whether or not any type of jurisdiction or venue challenge is appropriate.

Potential Defenses To My Federal Theft Charges

There are all sorts of different defenses available, at the federal level, when it comes to a theft-related event. If the government does not have evidence that you’re the one who committed the theft, then that could certainly be a basic defense. Another defense is that someone else is more responsible for the act than you and that you were not acting with intent when you did whatever it is that you did related to the theft.

Sometimes, people are operating innocently and they don’t realize that a theft-related offense is going on. They should not be prosecuted for that particular crime. Before you can just start spouting off defenses, as a defense attorney at the federal level, you’re going to want to have all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Maybe there is a traffic stop related to the case but all the goods that were found in the vehicle cannot be used against the person because the stop was illegal.

There are a whole host of things that can be utilized in a federal theft-related offense to defend you. However, it’s going to take a skilled federal criminal defense attorney, who understands what’s necessary to win and understands when you can’t win. Once your attorney is armed with the facts about what happened and has the pieces of the puzzle from the investigation from the other side, then you and your attorney must have an honest conversation about whether you have a chance to win or not.

Federal property crime is a federal offense as well as a felony and therefore if you are being charged you may face state penalties as well as federal penalties, which may result in years in prison and excessive fines. If you are being charged with a federal property crime it is very important that you have an aggressive and well experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side. Our defense lawyers have a combined 75 years of experience and we have handled thousands of criminal cases. We are knowledgeable of the federal system and we are confident that we can effectively defend your case.