Facing a Conviction in WA? Call Emerald City Now
At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle criminal defense lawyers are prepared to take your case. A skilled attorney will investigate the claims against you, protect your rights during the criminal justice process, and fight for your freedom. Our goal will always be to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
When you or a loved one need legal representation in the federal court system, call Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407. You can also reach us online to schedule a free initial consultation regarding your case.
Washington State v. Federal Courts
When you are charged with a state-level crime, you are accused of violating a Washington law. Your criminal case usually takes place in the county where you were arrested, and the process will follow the Washington criminal justice procedure. For misdemeanors and traffic offenses, you will go to the district or municipal court. For felony crimes, your case will move through a superior court.
For misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and traffic offenses in Auburn, Beau Arts, Bellevue, Burien, Carnation, Covington, Duvall, Kenmore, Redmond, Sammamish, Shoreline, and Skykomish, your case may go to the King County District Court. The King County District Court also handles felony preliminary hearings and felony expedited cases. However, if a felony-level offense in Washington moves toward a trial, it will be sent to the King County Superior Court.
In some circumstances, you can also be charged with a federal crime and the matter will go through the federal court system. This means a very different set of procedures and going up against a federal prosecutor, who are highly trained and aggressively pursue convictions. Your case may go through the Eastern District of Washington or the Western District of Washington. The Western District has courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma. If you were to appeal a conviction or sentence, your case would go up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
If you have questions about the charges you face and where you need to appear in court, do not hesitate to contact a federal crimes lawyer at Emerald City Law Group.
When You May Be Charged With a Federal Crime
There are several situations in which you may be charged with a federal crime instead of a Washington state crime, including:
- You violated a specific federal statute, such as regulation of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- The alleged criminal conduct took place on federal property, such as one of the many national parks in the Pacific Northwest.
- The alleged crime crossed state lines – literally or online.
- The alleged crime crossed national borders, such as conduct that crossed the Canadian-U.S. border in Washington.
- When the alleged criminal conduct was investigated by federal authorities, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
Federal Crimes We Handle
At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle federal crimes attorneys have represented individuals charged with:
- Federal drug crimes
- Federal assault offenses
- Federal embezzlement and theft crimes
- Federal fraud and false statement offenses
- Federal arson crimes
- Federal conspiracy to commit crimes
The Federal Criminal Court Process
Federal law also has misdemeanor and felony crimes. The distinction can be important for the criminal court process. If you are accused of a misdemeanor offense, federal prosecutors can charge you themselves, and your case will go before a U.S. magistrate judge.
If you are accused of a felony, federal prosecutors must convene a grand jury. During a grand jury, the prosecutor presents evidence to a group of 16 to 23 individuals and gives an argument as to why they believe you should be charged. This proceeding largely happens in secret. Every statement made, and article of evidence presented to the grand jury is under seal. Very few people can be present during a grand jury – only the judge, attorney for the government, witnesses being questioned that day, necessary interpreters, and a court reporter. As the accused, you will not attend a grand jury regarding potential charges against you. If at least 12 jurors believe there is enough evidence to prosecutor you for the alleged crime; then you will be indicted for one or more felony offenses. The indictment may lead to you being summoned to court, or it may include a warrant for your arrest.
Whether you are arrested or summoned to court, you must go to your arraignment before a magistrate judge. At this time, you hear the charges against you, you are reminded of your right to an attorney, and you learn of any conditions for your release from jail. You also must enter your initial plea of guilty or not guilty. To avoid being in jail during the duration of your case, you may be required to obtain a bail bond. If you cannot post bail, you will be remanded to the U.S. Marshal’s and jailed until your trial.
Following your arraignment, your federal crimes attorney will actively participate in discovery. Through this process, your lawyer obtains the evidence the prosecutor intends to use in court. Your lawyer may also conduct an independent investigation regarding the allegations to gather evidence that may lead to an acquittal or mitigate the penalties of a conviction.
After the discovery process, many individuals choose to participate in plea bargaining. Through a plea agreement with the prosecutor, you may face a reduced penalty in exchange for pleading guilty.
If you have not obtained a plea deal shortly after your arraignment, then your Seattle criminal defense attorney will participate in a preliminary hearing. During the preliminary hearing, the prosecution will present evidence and call witnesses, which your defense attorney can cross-examine. It is absolutely essential that you have an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer at this hearing because there are relaxed rules of evidence. Information, documents, and objects the prosecutor may not be able to present at trial can be presented in a preliminary hearing. This must be scheduled within 14 days of your arraignment if you are jailed. If you are released on bail, then the preliminary hearing must be within 21 days. You can also waive this hearing. The judge decides if there is probable cause to believe you committed the crime, and if so, the case moves forward.
At this point, your Seattle federal charge attorney will be preparing for trial and taking part on pre-trial motions and conferences. If you do not accept a plea agreement, then your federal crimes attorney will present your defense at trial.
Federal Charges Can Have Harsh Punishments
Federal misdemeanors, like in Washington, are not necessarily harshly punished. If convicted, you may be sentenced to prison for less than one year. You can also be fined and required to adhere to the rules of probation for a period of time.
Federal felonies, however, are often harshly punished. Many federal crimes have longer terms in incarceration than their state-level counterparts. If you are convicted of a drug offense, you may face a harsh mandatory minimum. Whenever you face a federal felony, you need a skilled and experienced Seattle federal crimes attorney to fight for you.
Contact us for Help Today
If you or a loved one are being investigated for a federal crime or has already been indicted, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our lawyers at Emerald City Law Group are prepared to defend your rights in the Western District of Washington. Contact us online or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a time to discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation.