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Understanding federal charges

Some people in North Carolina may face federal charges for crimes they have allegedly committed. Federal crimes usually have a high burden of proof for the prosecution, and in most cases, prosecutors will have to obtain a grand jury indictment before officially charging and prosecuting someone for federal crimes. It is important to understand what can elevate a charge to the federal level and how to retain effective defense counsel. 

Federal crimes explained 

A crime may fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government under the following circumstances: 

  • The crime involved interstate commerce, such as drug trafficking. 
  • The crime occurred across state or international boundaries, which can include the internet. 
  • The crime occurred on federal property. 
  • The crime was against a federal officer or employee 

Federal law enforcement agencies typically investigate the alleged offense and the people thought to be involved. They may rely on local and state agencies in the process. Prosecutors can file a complaint with a magistrate judge, and they can arrest an alleged offender while the grand jury deliberates. The penalties one can face upon conviction are usually harsher than penalties for state crimes. 

Getting experienced defense 

Trials for federal crimes are typically heard in a federal district court. North Carolina has three federal district courts covering the eastern, middle and western districts. The procedures and processes in federal court are different than in state courts, so an accused individual will need an attorney who has experience trying cases in federal court. A lawyer will also need to understand how to effectively defend against federal charges in order to increase a client’s chances of obtaining a successful outcome. 

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