The Woods Law Firm

South Carolina Federal Crimes Lawyer

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

Whether you are facing prosecution in state or federal court, an arrest and prosecution are a terrifying experience. However, when you are charged with a crime by the federal government, you have the full weight of the government stacked against you. When you are up against federal charges, you cannot afford to forego experienced criminal defense. The penalties are more significant and typically involve prison time. For you to avoid these negative consequences, it is critical that you have the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer from The Woods Law Firm. Our dedicated attorneys are licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in South Carolina where we have had thousands of successful outcomes. We are ready to protect your rights and lodge the best criminal defense possible to level the playing field against the powerful federal government.

What Is a Federal Crime?

Federal crimes involve the violation of federal laws and are prosecuted by federal agencies like the FBI, IRS, SEC, DEA or ATF. Federal prosecutors handle the case. Common federal crimes include:

  • Drug trafficking and other federal drug cases
  • Illegal immigration
  • White collar crimes
  • Fraud cases
  • Money counterfeiting
  • Racketeering and RICO violations
  • Computer crimes
  • Crimes committed on federal property

These cases often involve multiple jurisdictions, such as multiple cities or states, so a local investigation would not be sufficient. Federal judges and magistrates hear these cases.

What Is a State Crime?

State crimes involve violations of state laws and are investigated and prosecuted by state agencies. States have the right to enforce their own laws and violations of their state constitutions. City and county judges hear these cases. Common state crimes in South Carolina include:

Our knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense lawyers have experience in representing individuals throughout all 46 counties in South Carolina who have been charged with a crime and we fight to win.

What Are the Differences between State and Federal Crimes?

State and federal crimes have many differences. They involve a different set of laws. The SC Code of Laws codifies crimes in South Carolina and city and county prosecutors turn to these laws for their legal definition. Title 18 of the United States Code defines federal crimes. Additionally, the state and federal criminal justice systems are two completely different legal systems. They involve different laws and criminal procedures related to how a person is charged with a crime, who prosecutes the case, rules of evidence, and rules regarding who qualifies to testify as an expert witness.

Furthermore, federal crimes usually consist of lengthy and well-resourced federal investigations. A federal agency may expend considerable time and resources to identify violations of federal crimes. For example, these agencies are known to conduct backpage stings and arrests or Craigslist stings and arrests to find people involved in a child pornography exchange, prostitution ring or drug trafficking enterprise. It is not uncommon in these cases for federal prosecutors to charge serious crimes against people who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and who are not a part of such rings.

Additionally, federal defendants face harsher sentences and are subject to mandatory minimums. A conviction results in the defendant being sentenced to a high-security federal prison instead of a state prison. For these reasons, it is imperative to have a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in handling federal crime cases.

At The Woods Law Firm, our South Carolina criminal defense lawyers help people who have been charged with crimes in federal court. We recognize that facing federal charges is an intimidating experience and you need an ally you can turn to during this frightening time. We zealously defend your constitutional rights and protect you from overreaching federal prosecutors.

Can I Be Charged in Both State and Federal Court?

State and federal laws often overlap. For example, manufacturing drugs is considered a crime under both state and federal law. Most people understand that you can’t be charged with the same offense twice. This is a legal concept referred to as “double jeopardy.” The federal Constitution protects you from being tried more than once for the same offense in the same jurisdiction. However, it is possible for a person to be prosecuted in both state and federal court for the same offense. In this situation, double jeopardy does not apply because different government agencies are prosecuting the case and a different jurisdiction is involved. So, even if you are acquitted (found not guilty) in state court, you can still face criminal charges for the same offense on the federal level. Likewise, if you’re convicted under state law, federal prosecutors can still go after you and try to convict you at the federal level. When you are facing charges on both the state and federal level, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can protect you on both fronts and has a track record of success in state and federal courts.

What Are the Definitions of Common Federal Crimes?

Each federal crime is defined differently in the US Code. Some of the most commonly charged federal crimes are described below.

How Is Federal Fraud Defined?

Federal fraud involves intentionally making false statements to a federal agency in order to secure a benefit for which a person is not actually entitled. There are various forms of federal fraud. For example, healthcare fraud is defined under 18 USC § 1035 as knowingly falsifying, concealing or covering up by a trick or scheme or making a false or fraudulent statement or representation involving a health care benefit program in order to receive delivery or payment for health care benefits or services. Doctors can be prosecuted under this offense if they have participated in fraudulent billing. Patients can also be prosecuted for this offense if they lied in order to receive medical services. Other forms of fraud that are prosecuted by the federal government include:

  • Bank fraudBank fraud involves any scheme to defraud a bank, such as lying on a bank loan application or check kiting. 
  • Financial Transactions Card (FTC) fraud – This type of fraud involves the theft of a credit card, debit card or person’s identity in order to receive a benefit from using the card.
  • Insurance fraudInsurance fraud involves making false statements in order to receive payment from an insurance company. The federal government might prosecute this crime when mail fraud or wire fraud is involved.
  • Investment fraudInvestment fraud involves the fraudulent sale of financial instruments, Ponzi schemes or pyramid schemes.
  • Medicaid/Medicare fraud – Medicaid or Medicare fraud refers to illegal practices that are aimed at getting higher payouts from the government-funded Medicaid or Medicare healthcare programs. Illegal practices include billing for services that were not provided, conducting unnecessary tests, abusing patients, filing fictitious claims for reimbursement, stealing someone’s identity to procure healthcare benefits or using fraud to receive benefits that patients are not eligible for.
  • Securities fraudSecurities fraud is defined as violating any of the federal laws related to securities, which includes any scheme used to defraud a person or fraudulently obtain money in connection with securities. This offense includes insider trading, which is using private and confidential information to profit off the stock market.
  • Tax fraud and tax evasion – Tax fraud is making any misrepresentation in order to decrease tax liability or increase a tax refund for which a person is not eligible based on the true information. Common examples of tax fraud include adding dependents who are not actually a person’s dependents, claiming credits for which the taxpayer is not eligible or making inappropriate deductions. Tax evasion refers to failing to file tax returns and pay taxes.
  • Welfare fraud – Welfare fraud is committed when a person lies on an application to secure welfare benefits, such as by not reporting income or listing children that do not belong to the applicant.
  • Wire fraudWire fraud involves the use of a telephone or information technology to commit the fraud offense.

Because each of these offenses includes a different definition and is handled by a different federal agency, it is critical to have an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who understands how the federal agency involved in your case prosecutes defendants. Criminal defense from federal charges is a specialized area of practice that requires the unique skillset and knowledge of a federal crimes defense lawyer. Our lead attorney and associates attorney have the background and skillset necessary to successfully defend you against these charges.

What Is a White Collar Crime?

White collar crimes are a category of nonviolent crimes that are usually committed for financial gain. They are typically committed in commercial settings by professionals who typically wear “white collars” as part of their jobs, distinguished from “blue collar” workers like factory workers. Common white collar crimes include:

  • BlackmailFederal blackmail is defined as demanding money from someone in exchange for not informing a federal agency of the person violating a federal law.
  • Bribery – Bribery involves promising or soliciting something of value to influence a public official to take a certain course of action. Federal bribery involves federal public officials.
  • Embezzlement – Embezzlement is the theft or misappropriation of funds that are entrusted to a person, usually through the course of employment.
  • Extortion – Federal extortion involves federal employees who obtain money or something else of value through force or threats.
  • Forgery – Forgery involves a false document, signature or art that is used to deceive another person. Federal forgery charges can arise when a person attempts to connect two notes, bills or instruments together to form one instrument in an attempt to defraud someone.
  • Money counterfeiting – Money counterfeiting involves the use of machines to produce currency that is not produced or sanctioned by the federal government and to pass off this currency as authentic.

What Are Federal Cyber and Computer Crimes?

Computer crimes involve criminal actions that are committed with the assistance of computers, computer systems and the internet. They may involve various crimes, such as computer fraud, hacking or identity theft.

The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act penalizes the following types of cyber crimes:

  • Hacking a government computer
  • Hacking that results in exposure to governmental or financial information
  • Damaging or threatening to damage a federal computer or bank computer through the use of a computer virus, worm, Trojan horse or other cyber attack
  • Using unauthorized access to a government or bank computer to commit fraud
  • Accessing a computer to commit espionage
  • Trafficking in passwords for a government computer

These types of crimes are often complex and require a unique expertise. When facing serious charges of this nature, you need a lawyer with the appropriate background. To get the best outcome, you’ll need a lawyer who understands the complex issues involved in your case and who will lodge an aggressive and immediate defense on your behalf.

When Is a Drug Case a Federal Drug Case?

It is illegal under state and federal law to possess, manufacture, distribute or traffic in controlled substances. Many drug cases are handled on the state level. Federal drug cases tend to deal with situations that involve greater quantities of drugs, larger groups of people who are involved in the enterprise and cases involving drugs in multiple states or countries. Investigations leading up to federal drug charges are usually conducted over a longer period of time and may involve a greater degree of evidence than in state drug cases. Furthermore, they may involve more sophisticated investigative tools, such as wiretaps or video surveillance. Because the evidence in these cases tends to be stronger, it is critical to protect your freedom by mounting a strong defense. At The Woods Law Firm, our dedicated federal criminal defense lawyers are committed to helping you avoid prison time or minimizing the impact of the charges against you. Call us at (864) 810-0384 to begin developing a customized legal strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of your case.

What Is Racketeering or a RICO Violation?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act was established to deter organized crime by instituting severe penalties to individuals who were convicted of committing two or more racketeering activities. There are 36 different state and federal crimes that qualify as RICO crimes, including:

  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Illegal gambling
  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Kidnapping
  • Human trafficking
  • Drug trafficking
  • Murder

What Is an ICE Arrest and Deportation?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is tasked with enforcing federal immigration laws. ICE arrests often involve government raids that take custody of people in the country who have not been legally admitted. These individuals are subject to criminal punishment as well as deportation.

What Else Qualifies as a Federal Crime?

There are thousands of federal crimes that a person can be charged with. Federal crimes are charged when any of the following are involved:

  • The crime was committed on federal property, such as a national park or federal courthouse
  • The victim was part of a protected group
  • The crime involved multiple states, crossing state lines or interstate commerce
  • A federal agency has jurisdiction over the case
  • The victim is a federal officer
  • The U.S. mails were used as part of the crime

What Are the Penalties for Federal Crimes?

The penalties for federal crimes are extensive and involve:

  • Prison time – Most federal crimes carry significant maximum punishments of substantial prison time. For example, healthcare fraud carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment and bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. Many federal crimes carry life sentences and others allow for the death penalty. Additionally, sentences for federal crimes are subject to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which include many mandatory minimum sentences that require defendants to serve at least a minimum amount of time if convicted of an offense.
  • Fines – Federal fines can be massive, resulting in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. Additionally, the government may try to seize any property it suspects was used in the commission of a crime through the civil asset forfeiture process.
  • Loss of civil privileges – If you are convicted of a crime, you will lose certain civil liberties, such as the ability to vote, possess a firearm or seek election as a public official.
  • Loss of opportunities – Even an arrest (and not a conviction) can affect the opportunities that are available to a person once implicated in a federal criminal investigation. Job offers may be rescinded, loyal employees may be fired, or scholarships may be revoked.

When your life is on the line, you want the best criminal defense possible and that is what The Woods Law Firm offers.

Where Are Federal Cases Tried in South Carolina?

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina hears all federal criminal cases in South Carolina. Currently, 18 federal judges preside over cases in this court system. The president appoints these judges to lifetime terms and Congress confirms these nominations. You can see a list of current South Carolina district court judges here. Federal magistrates  in South Carolina may also preside over certain aspects of federal cases.

Federal courthouses that are part of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina are located in the following cities in South Carolina:

  • Aiken
  • Anderson
  • Beaufort
  • Charleston
  • Columbia
  • Florence
  • Greenville
  • Spartanburg

Our attorneys are admitted to practice in all federal courthouses throughout South Carolina.

Why You Need a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer?

When the federal government charges you with a crime, this is considerably different than when you are charged by the state government. To obtain the best outcome, you will need a lawyer who understands how to defend clients against federal prosecutors, as well as understands the deep-rooted constitutional rights that you have via the federal Constitution. Additionally, you will want a local lawyer who has prior experience within the district where your case is being tried and who is familiar with the local rules of procedure. Our lead attorney Freddy Woods, associate attorneys and dedicated staff will thoroughly analyze the details of your case to identify defenses that apply and quickly get to work to develop a customized legal strategy to zealously protect your freedom.

Contact The Woods Law Firm for Immediate Assistance with Your Case

The best thing that you can do to improve your chance of avoiding a conviction is to work closely with a knowledgeable and skilled federal lawyer in South Carolina. With the experienced South Carolina criminal defense legal team at The Woods Law Firm by your side, you will have someone to guide you carefully through the federal court system while protecting your rights at every turn. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights to eliminate or mitigate the consequences of a conviction. To secure our legal services for your case, call (864) 298-8111, text (864) 810-0384 or complete our online contact form to schedule an immediate, free and confidential consultation.