Federal Crimes

No one knows exactly how many federal crimes there are, but the count is certainly in the thousands. They range from from drug trafficking and terrorism to washing a fish at the wrong faucet. And many federal crimes are incredibly broad: submitting the wrong insurance claim form can be charged as fraud. If you are busted by the feds, you face drawn-out proceedings, high bail, absurdly long sentences and a process entirely dominated by prosecutors and law enforcement. You need a lawyer with specific experience in federal court.

Attorney Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma has been practicing in the federal courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York since he ended his clerkship for a federal magistrate judge in 2000. His first federal trial was in 2001 and he has been trying cases regularly since then. He sits on the prestigious Criminal Justice Act panels for both Southern and Eastern Districts, which allows judges to appoint him to represent poor defendants. While past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, he has managed to get favorable results for clients facing charges of fraud, smuggling, extortion, drug trafficking, child pornography, terrorism, and many other crimes. For specific types of federal cases, browse the links below.

The vast majority of federal cases end in guilty pleas. For the ones that go to trial, the conviction rate is high. Federal investigators and prosecutors can pick and choose their cases. Unlike local police, they are not required to prosecute cases that take place in their jurisdiction. They wait until they have lots of evidence before moving in to arrest and prosecute. The evidence may consist of witness testimony, video surveillance, recorded phone calls, undercover transactions, bank and phone records, and, increasingly, electronic data stored on a target's cell phone or computer. Our office has experience analyzing and picking apart these types of evidence. If possible, we will use them to your advantage, or demonstrate their limitations at trial. If not, we will advise you to plead guilty and fight for you at sentencing.

In federal cases, most of the litigation—most of the fight—takes place when the defendant is sentenced. Federal judges are required to accurately calculate a defendant's advisory sentencing range under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. But judges are not required to sentence in that range—they can go higher or lower. In every federal case that goes to sentencing, our office submits a package to the judge illustrating why leniency is warranted in that particular case. The package can include letters from friends and family; evidence of the client's accomplishments, employment and charitable work; and a memorandum arguing why the Guidelines should be lower, why a below-Guidelines sentence is warranted, or both. In many cases, we work with prison consultants, social workers, psychologists and other experts to ensure that the sentencing judge has all the information he or she needs to impose a fair sentence.

No one wants to face a federal prosecution. But if you or someone you love is under investigation or has been charged with a federal crime, you need an experienced federal lawyer right away. For more information on federal crimes, please see the links below. For an evaluation of your specific case, please contact us.


Federal Sex Offenses



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