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Federal Crimes


Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC

BACL distinguishes itself from other firms by specializing in both state and federal criminal defense. In fact, David J. Cohen, the founder of BACL, was a federal defender in one of the most respected offices in the United States, the San Diego Federal Defender’s Office. Mr. Cohen authored the article, "Common Federal Offenses and Issues" which was nationally circulated in the Federal Defender Manual. Mr. Cohen, throughout his career, has tried approximately 50 federal trials.

Federal crimes, unlike state crimes, are not generally investigated by local law enforcement agencies. While local law enforcement agencies and federal agencies occasionally collaborate, there are numerous federal agencies that are designated solely to investigate and enforce federal criminal law. The FBI, DEA, and Secret Service are among those agencies.

Federal crimes, like state crimes are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. However, there are different classes of felonies and misdemeanors under federal law, reflecting the hierarchy of seriousness of federal offense. Unlike state crimes, federal crimes are not prosecuted by the local district attorney’s office. The United States Attorney’s Office prosecutes federal crime. Though the United States Attorney’s Office has branches throughout each state, all U.S. Attorney Offices are federal offices. The crimes prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office are not the same state laws located within the various state penal codes. Rather, federal crimes are made criminal through federal legislation. Those crimes might be distinguished from state crimes, because they occurred on federal land or against a federal entity, or the offense might involve interstate activity.

Perhaps one of the most critical distinctions between state and federal law is the way federal judges determine federal sentences. Federal judges are required to consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, a set of guidelines which establishes the sentence range based upon the “offense level” involved in the case. The guidelines establish sentences based upon two factors, (1) the offense level and, (2) the criminal history category applicable to the defendant. There are 43 possible offense levels, and the criminal history category involves a series of numeric calculations based upon several factors related to the defendant and their history/circumstances. It is critical that your attorney be familiar with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, such that they are able to calculate where you fall within the guidelines.

BACL attorneys understand federal investigations, federal court, and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. We represent clients in all areas of federal law, ranging from tax evasion to complex RICO violations. If you believe you are the subject of a federal investigation, you should contact us immediately, so that we may begin negotiating to keep you out of custody and assist you in navigating the federal criminal process.


The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be taken, as legal advice. The information may or may not apply to your case or situation. Please do not rely on any information on this website as legal advice from an attorney because it is not legal advice. Please contact us if you have any questions, and we will be happy to have one of our lawyers talk to you. Any preliminary consultation between you and a lawyer from our firm is covered by the attorney-client privilege.



If you or someone you care about are facing criminal charges and need a lawyer in the Bay Area, our San Francisco based attorneys are available to take your call 24/7 at 415-398-3900, or fill out the contact form to the right to receive a fast response.

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