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Federal court convictions mean higher stakes for criminal defendants. At Ohle and Ohle, we have the legal knowledge, experience, and proven successful track record criminal court defendants need in their corner when facing a federal charge. Our attorneys are qualified to fight and win on your behalf if you’re up against a federal judge and prosecutor. Contact us to speak with a Fort Pierce federal defense attorney.

Exceptional federal criminal defense lawyers in Florida

The lawyers who represent the United States in federal criminal cases are generally at the top of their field. Although there are some highly capable public defenders, privately retaining your own Florida federal criminal defense lawyer is the best option. In a case that involves a federal charge, you need an attorney who can match and exceed the level of training, experience, and skill set federal lawyers and judges possess.

When you retain your own attorney, your case will receive more individualized attention. Your attorney will have more time and energy to dedicate to achieving the best outcome in your case. You will also reap the benefits of having access to a larger pool of resources at your lawyer’s disposal. Our attorneys fight to win every case. When you call on us, you can rest assured that we will always work to resolve your case in your favor.

State crimes vs. federal criminal charges

The state and federal criminal court systems operate separately. A defendant accused of murder or drug trafficking can face state and/or federal charges, depending on the facts of the case. If you are familiar with many high-profile cases that involve financial crimes, you may already know that many white collar crimes can be prosecuted by the state or federal government. A case will fall within the federal government’s jurisdiction if it has at least one of the following factors:

  • the criminal activity crosses state lines
  • the crime involves a federal government worker
  • the case involves the U.S. government’s standing with a foreign government
  • the case involves a federal question or calls for a response from the federal government

Several different types of criminal cases can land a defendant in federal court. The following outlines the areas in which we provide criminal defense representation to parties who have been accused of a federal crime.

White collar crime

Financial schemes and political scandals often fall under the category of white collar crime. These crimes are generally non-violent in nature though they can sometimes occur in combination with violent offenses like stalking, harassment, and assault. Federal white collar criminal cases generally possess at least one of the following factors:

  • involvement of a federal agency
  • crossing a state line
  • involvement of the banking system

The list of federal white collar crimes is extensive. Some common examples are:

  • money laundering
  • bank fraud
  • mail fraud
  • identity theft
  • counterfeiting
  • bankruptcy fraud
  • antitrust violations
  • crimes against the environment
  • mail fraud
  • some internet crimes

We offer representation to individuals and corporate entities that have been accused of a white collar offense. Our attorneys will work with financial specialists and expert witnesses who can help establish your defense case.

Manufacturing of narcotics

Federal law prohibits the act of knowingly or intentionally manufacturing illegal controlled substances. An individual or group manufactures a substance if it produces or makes an attempt to produce a controlled substance. The federal government generally defines narcotic drugs as opium, opiates, derivatives of opium and opiates, and any other drug the U.S. attorney general finds to have a similar potential for abuse.

Several factors can determine whether a narcotics manufacturing charge will be federal. A drug charge may become a federal matter depend on:

  • The amount of the substance produced
  • Whether the manufacturing took place
  • Whether the defendant is accused of being connected to a larger illegal drug operation

Child pornography distribution defense

Distributing child pornography can be a federal or state offense. If the illicit images cross state lines, the person who transmitted the images can be charged with a federal distribution offense. According to U.S. federal law, an individual distributes child pornography if he or she shares materials that depict a child in a sexual manner. Copying or allowing the materials to be copied, ceiling images, sending or forwarding files or messages, and posting digital files are examples of means through which people distribute child pornography.

Stricter sentencing guidelines generally apply to distribution charges when compared to a possession charge. A defendant will generally face a separate distribution charge for each copy of an illegal image the individual has been accused of sharing.

Child pornography manufacturing defense

Federal law also prohibits the manufacturing of child pornography. A manufacturing charge is more severe than possession and distribution because producing child pornography generally involves the direct physical, emotional, and psychological abuse of a child. In federal cases, manufacturing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. A defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for each count. If the defendant has a prior conviction for an offense that involved a child, enhanced sentencing of 35 years to life in prior may apply. Unlike other federal child pornography charges, manufacturing can be a federal charge even if the activity does not cross state lines.

There are several elements to the federal law that prohibits the use or employment of a child to produce sexually explicit materials. An individual may be convicted on a production charge if he or she coerces, employs, or entices a minor to participate in the production of a depiction of sexually explicit conduct. Sexually explicit materials may take many different forms, including:

  • movies
  • photos
  • dances
  • plays
  • visual representations


Federal sentences

Federal crimes and state crimes have very critical differences when it comes to sentencing. People who are convicted of federal crimes may be sentenced to incarceration in a federal prison instead of state prison. Individuals who are convicted in a federal criminal case do not go to jail. If sentenced to a period of incarceration, the individual will be placed in a federal prison. Federal sentences are generally stricter than state sentences. A federal crime may be punishable by larger fines and longer prison sentences. Certain federal crimes like drug-related offenses and violent crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences.

Mandatory minimum sentencing

Established by Congress, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines apply to federal drug offenses, child pornography cases, fraud, and certain gun-related offenses. Judges are generally required to apply mandatory minimum sentencing in these cases. Critics of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines argue the law detracts from individual federal judges’ power to ensure fairness in federal sentencing. Mandatory minimums allow biased prosecutors to target specific individuals with criminal charges that guarantee a federal prison sentence. Automatic prison sentences have also led to increased spending on incarceration and less spending on rehabilitation and prevention.

Facing a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence can be an intimidating experience. However, an experienced attorney may be able to a defendant avoid conviction or obtain relief from a mandatory minimum sentence. In certain cases, federal courts may bypass the requirement to apply mandatory minimum sentencing. Contact us our seasoned Fort Pierce federal criminal defense attorneys to learn more.

How is one charged with a federal crime?

There are three ways the federal criminal court process can begin: 1) through the filing of a criminal complaint, 2) through the filing of a criminal information, or 3) indictment by a grand jury. A U.S. attorney can file a criminal complaint against an individual in conjunction with the federal law enforcement agency that has investigated the case. The FBI, DEA, SEC, and IRS are examples of agencies that are often involved in federal criminal investigations.

Federal criminal complaint

The U.S. Attorney presents the complaint to a federal magistrate judge. A federal law enforcement officer usually makes a statement under oath to present the essential facts of the charge. Next, the judge determines whether there is probable cause to believe the accused party committed a federal criminal act. If the court finds probable cause, the judge may issue a warrant to allow federal law enforcement to arrest the accused party.

Filing a complaint is often a much faster process than obtaining an indictment. Nevertheless, certain offenses require a grand jury indictment to allow the case to move forward. If a federal prosecutor desires to move quickly with an arrest, he or she may first file a complaint to establish probable cause to make the arrest. After filing the complaint with the federal magistrate court, the U.S. attorney will have 30 days to proceed to a grand jury to obtain an indictment.

Federal grand jury indictment

Sometimes a U.S. attorney will bypass the process of filing a complaint. Federal prosecutors can begin investigating someone the government suspects of involvement in a federal crime by using a grand jury. Through a process that usually takes place without public knowledge, the prosecutor presents witnesses and documents to a grand jury. The grand jury’s investigative process is so secretive that the accused party is typically unaware of the pending indictment until the grand jury formally issues the indictment and federal law enforcement agents arrest the individual.

Criminal investigation

Similar to a criminal complaint, a criminal investigation is a formal charging document in a federal criminal case. An information signifies that an individual is being investigated by the federal government; however, the prosecutor and the individual’s attorney have already had a conversation. During the conversation, the federal prosecutor and the defense attorney come to an agreement on which charge the prosecutor will present in federal court.

Filing a criminal information offers several advantages to a defendant When the prosecutor and defense attorney are able to plan ahead and reach an agreement, the defendant can often avoid being arrested. Instead of a formal arrest, both may also agree upon a date and time they will go to federal court, allow the accused party to be processed, appear before a judge, post bond, and be released.

No matter how the federal criminal court process begins, we are qualified to negotiate the best terms for individuals who are accused of a federal crime in Fort Pierce. There is no such thing as contacting an attorney too early whether you have been formally charged with a federal offense or if you believe you may be under investigation.

Under investigation for a federal crime?

Federal criminal investigations can potentially begin in any one of several different ways. Moreover, multiple people may be negatively impacted by a federal investigation even if the prosecutor later decides to bring charges against a different individual. A criminal defense attorney can take steps to protect the personal and professional reputation of individuals who are under investigation as potential defendants. Witnesses, informants, and other third parties may also benefit from contacting a federal criminal defense attorney during the investigative process.

Federal white collar crime investigations

White collar criminal investigations often begin when a federal government agency discovers irregularities in financial reports. Unusual bank deposits and wire transfers and signs of tax evasion can trigger an investigation into money laundering activity and organized crime. Agencies like the IRS and SEC may investigate individuals and businesses to determine whether the federal government should pursue a criminal charge.

Federal sting operations

The federal government often investigates drug-related offenses and child pornography by conducting sting operations. A sting operation may involve undercover law enforcement officers posing as people who want to purchase illegal materials or assist in the production or trade of drugs or child pornography. Federal law enforcement agencies often work with state and local law enforcement to combine knowledge and resources and gather the information needed to make targeted arrests.

Contact a Fort Pierce, FL federal crimes lawyer

Our attorneys represent individuals at every step in the federal criminal court process. Contact Ohle & Ohle today to request a consultation with a Fort Pierce federal crimes attorney.

Why Choose Ohle & Ohle?
“He is the man in Ft. Pierce!!!! This is the guy you want next to your side when in front of a judge. Got exactly what I wanted, was fair and honest straight from the start. Ohle is the man!!!!”
~ Spencer Udell, Google Reviewer
Unlike many large, high-volume firms, we’ll treat you like an individual, and with compassion and understanding. Whether you’re facing criminal charges, going through a divorce or injured in an accident, what you need most right now is someone who will listen and provide you with the best possible representation throughout your unique case.
Several law firms from West Palm Beach claim to specialize in Treasure Coast cases, when in fact they don’t even have an office here. Leanne and Michael Ohle were born and raised in the Treasure Coast, and know the ins and outs of its legal system. We have offices in Fort Pierce and Stuart, and can come to you, depending on the situation.
The attorneys at Ohle & Ohle have proudly served Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie and the rest of the Treasure Coast for the past 48 years. We pride ourselves on our deep-rooted, strong ties to the community, which we believe gives us a clear advantage over our non-local competitors.
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