Most of our Fresno readers probably know that there are criminal justice systems in place at both the state and federal levels. A person can be charged with a crime in state court or federal court, and sometimes both. However, when a person is prosecuted in federal court, the case usually involves felony level allegations, and the potential sentence in the event of a criminal conviction can be much more severe.
Unlike many state courts, where judges have quite a bit of leeway in determining the appropriate sentence for an offender based on a wide variety of factors, federal court judges are often times constrained by what is known as mandatory minimum sentences. This means that in many cases a particular type of sentence is already prescribed for a particular type of crime, and the judge has no discretion to impose a lesser sentence.
However, perhaps the most compelling reason to craft an aggressive criminal defense strategy when facing federal criminal charges is this: a person who is convicted is expected to serve at least 85 percent of the overall sentence before any type of early release will be considered. That is a big difference between state and federal court.
At our law firm, we attempt to walk our clients through all of their options when facing criminal charges. In many cases, a full-throated defense in front of a jury at a criminal trial is the best option. In other cases, exploring options in a plea negotiation may lead to the best result. For more information on our firm's approach to federal criminal charges, please visit our website.