Federal criminal investigations in Omaha, Nebraska generally take longer than state criminal investigations. In some cases, a person is interviewed by federal agents, search warrants are executed, and property is seized months or years before the feds even decide to indict.
Many federal crimes have a statute of limitations of five years. This allows federal law enforcement agencies to take their time and do a thorough investigation before presenting the case to a federal prosecutor. Unfortunately for the person being investigated, it can be months and often years before the accused knows whether federal criminal charges will be filed.
WILL MY STATE CASE GO FEDERAL?
One common scenario in cases involving cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other hard drugs is that the accused is usually charged in state court with possession with intent to distribute. While the case is pending, that person is indicted for conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and the state case is dismissed. However, the state case is not always dismissed, and it is possible for a person who is initially charged with a felony drug crime in state court to have a concurrent federal prosecution. This happens despite the fact that whenever the federal government decides to pursue a drug crime, the state will normally dismiss charges that arose out of the same criminal action.
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THE WAITING GAME
Years ago, Berry Law represented a man charged in Omaha with four counts of wire fraud for emails that he sent 4 years and 11 months prior to the indictment. A criminal defendant in that case had already been sued for fraud in another state and believed the matter was over. He had been investigated and interviewed by the FBI and had not heard from them in three years until he was arrested.
In another example, a man who used a file sharing program to download child pornography in Omaha had his house raided pursuant to a search warrant. However, he was not arrested. Law enforcement conducted a forensic investigation on the computers, and he was eventually indicted for possession and distribution of child pornography for his illegal file sharing activities.
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG?
The feds don’t take bad cases. Some Nebraska criminal defense attorneys believe this is the reason it takes a long time for the government to decide whether to file federal charges. In some instances, state prosecutors will refer cases for federal prosecution and the federal government will decline to prosecute. In these cases, the state charges are usually pending and the state prosecutor whose case has been rejected by the feds continues to prosecute at the case at the state level. Communications between the state and federal prosecutors can take time. While federal prosecutions are generally very secretive, a criminal defendant in state court may get wind that his or her case could go federal but could wait for months if not years for that to happen.
WHEN FEDERAL CHARGES COME QUICKLY
While some federal investigations last a long time, some are brief. For example, in interstate drug cases involving large quantities of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, the government may act quickly, and the criminal defendant may be in federal court for initial hearing without going to state court. In these instances, federal prosecutors will file a complaint and get the case in front of a federal magistrate prior to going through the grand jury process. But this is not always the case. A criminal defendant usually does not know when or if his or her case will go before a grand jury. Most federal criminal defendants initially caught red-handed are often in state court first while the indictment is pending.
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In sum, the target of a federal criminal investigation rarely knows when or if he or she will be indicted. Berry Law has successfully defended clients who believed an indictment may be forthcoming. While criminal defense attorneys love to win jury trials, some of the biggest wins come from the cases that never get to court because the accused is never arrested or indicted.
If you believe you are facing federal criminal charges and need a federal criminal defense lawyer, contact the attorneys at Berry Law.