For the most part, when the police arrest you and charge you, they charge you with a state crime. A state court will try you and sentence you. But in some cases, your case becomes a federal matter. These are the cases where your offense occurs in multiple states, when you commit an offense against a federal agent, when your offense breaks a federal statute, or when your offense occurs on federal property. In these cases, a federal court will try you. This involves a federal indictment, many hearings, as well as appearing before a grand jury. The grand jury will decide if there is enough evidence to try you. If there is, there will be more hearings before you ever get to trial. According to Belen Olmedo Guerra, it is an absolute necessity that you have an attorney who understands the ins and outs of federal court. She believes that she is one such attorney in the Phoenix area.
“There are numerous reasons a person could be charged with a federal crime in Phoenix,” says Belen. “If they assault a federal officer, for instance, that is a federal crime. If they commit a crime on federal property, that is a federal crime. If they violate any federal statute, that is a federal crime.”
There are some types of criminal activity that are always handled by federal prosecutors, according to Belen. She has experience dealing with many of these charges, including but not limited to:
- Terrorism charges
- Tax fraud
- Human trafficking
- Drug offenses
- Child pornography
“If an Arizona resident is arrested for any of these crimes, they can expect to be put through the federal court system,” Belen says. “And that can drag on for months and months, or even for years. There are hearings before and after the grand jury trial, and arraignment, and then more hearings before your actual trial.” This is assuming that you do not plead guilty or take a plea bargain.
According to Belen, one reason it’s so important to have an experienced attorney in federal court is due to the steep penalties. Depending on your criminal history and the severity of the offense, you can experience a wide range of consequences for a federal crime. The penalties for a federal crime could include but are not limited to:
- Permanent criminal record
- Federal prison sentence
- High fines
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Denial of citizenship applications
- Loss of your visa or permanent residency
- Travel restrictions
- Loss of voting rights
- Ineligibility to register in military
Belen Olmedo Guerra is able to practice at both the state and federal level. To speak with someone at the Belen Law Firm about federal crimes, call 602.715.0908 for a free consultation today.