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Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

May 17, 2019

Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Table of Contents

Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer | Chris Lewis & Associates

What is a Federal Crime?

A federal crime is a criminal offense that violates the United States government’s laws. Federal agencies prosecute these crimes, and can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. 

Federal crimes can range from drug trafficking to white-collar crimes such as fraud and embezzlement. 

The severity of punishment for a federal crime depends on various factors, including the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether or not anyone was harmed due to the crime. 

It is essential to seek legal representation from an experienced Dallas federal criminal defense lawyer if you are facing charges for a federal crime

They have in-depth knowledge of federal law and can help you navigate through complex legal procedures to minimize your penalties or even get your case dismissed.

What is Federal Criminal Law?

Federal criminal law is a branch of law that deals with crimes committed against the United States government or its citizens. 

This area of law is complex and requires a deep understanding of federal statutes, regulations, and case law. 

Jurisdiction in Federal Criminal Law

One of the most essential aspects of federal criminal law is jurisdiction. The federal government has jurisdiction over crimes considered offenses against the United States. These include drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, and terrorism.

In addition to these specific offenses, federal jurisdiction can be established when a crime occurs on federal property or involves interstate commerce. For example, if someone commits fraud using the internet or through mail across state lines, they may be charged with a federal crime.

Elements of Federal Crimes

To prove guilt in a federal criminal case, prosecutors must establish each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements required for each offense vary depending on the statute but generally include intent, knowledge, and action.

For example, to convict someone for drug trafficking under federal law, prosecutors must show that the defendant knowingly possessed illegal drugs with an intent to distribute them. There is no conviction if prosecutors cannot prove any element beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Penalties for Federal Crimes

The penalties for committing a federal crime can be severe and often involve lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. 

In some cases where death resulted from the commission of certain offenses such as murder or treason, capital punishment may apply.

In addition to these penalties imposed by courts upon conviction, defendants may also face additional consequences such as asset forfeiture or civil lawsuits filed by victims seeking damages arising from their conduct.

Differences Between Federal and State Criminal Law

There are two main types of cases: federal and state. While both cases involve committing a crime, they have different procedures, laws, and penalties. This section will discuss the differences between federal and state criminal law.


One of the key differences between federal and state criminal law is jurisdiction. The federal government has jurisdiction over crimes that violate federal laws or occur on federal property. Examples of such crimes include tax evasion, drug trafficking across state lines, and bank robbery.

On the other hand, state governments have jurisdiction over crimes that violate state laws or occur within their borders. Examples of such crimes include theft, assault, and murder.


Another difference between federal and state criminal law is how investigations are conducted. The FBI or DEA agencies usually carry out federal investigations. These agencies have extensive resources to investigate complex crimes that cross state lines or involve multiple jurisdictions.

State investigations are typically carried out by local law enforcement agencies such as police departments or sheriff’s offices. These agencies may not have access to the same resources as federal agencies but can still conduct thorough investigations into local crimes.


The charges brought against a defendant in a criminal case also differ depending on whether it is a federal or state case. 

In a federal case, charges are brought by a United States Attorney’s Office after an investigation by a federal agency. The charges may include violations of specific federal statutes related to the crime committed.

In contrast, in a state case, charges are brought by the prosecutor’s office for the county where the crime occurred. These charges may be based on statutes within that state’s criminal code.


The penalties for committing a crime under either type of law also differ significantly. Federal offenses tend to carry harsher penalties than similar offenses under state law due to the severity of the crime and the fact that federal law is designed to protect national interests.

For example, if someone is convicted of drug trafficking under federal law, they could face up to life in prison. In contrast, if convicted of drug trafficking under state law, they may only face a few years in jail.

Jury Selection

The process for selecting jurors also differs between federal and state criminal cases. Federal juries are chosen from a pool of potential jurors summoned to serve on a grand or trial jury. The selection process is random and overseen by a judge.

In contrast, state juries are typically selected from voter registration lists or driver’s license records. The selection process may vary depending on the state but usually involves a combination of random selection and screening for bias.


The procedures for conducting trials in federal and state courts also differ significantly. Federal trials tend to be more formal than state trials due to the complexity of federal laws and regulations.

In addition, federal judges have more control over the proceedings in their courtrooms than state judges do. They can limit witness testimony or evidence presented if deemed irrelevant or prejudicial.


Finally, appeals processes differ between federal and state criminal cases as well. Generally, appeals in federal cases are heard by higher courts such as circuit courts or appellate courts. These courts review decisions made by lower courts to ensure that they were made correctly based on applicable laws and legal precedents.

In contrast, appeals in state cases are typically heard by intermediate appellate courts before being reviewed by the highest court in the state (usually called the Supreme Court).

 These courts review decisions made by lower courts to ensure that they were made correctly based on applicable laws and legal precedents within that particular state’s jurisdiction.

Role of a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

When facing federal criminal charges, it’s essential to have a skilled and experienced federal criminal defense lawyer on your side. A federal criminal defense lawyer’s role is to protect their client’s rights and ensure that they receive fair treatment under the law.

Understanding Federal Criminal Law

Federal criminal law is complex and differs from state criminal law. A federal crime is an offense that violates U.S. federal laws or occurs on federal property. These crimes are investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, or ATF.

Federal crimes include drug trafficking, white-collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement, terrorism, and more. The penalties for these crimes can be severe, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

Defending Against Federal Charges

A skilled federal criminal defense lawyer will investigate all aspects of the case to build a strong defense strategy. They will review the evidence presented by prosecutors and may conduct their investigation to uncover additional evidence that could help their client’s case.

One common tactic federal prosecutors use is offering plea deals in exchange for cooperation with ongoing investigations. A reasonable defense attorney will advise their client on whether accepting a plea deal is in their best interest or if fighting the charges in court would be more advantageous.

Challenging Evidence

One key aspect of defending against federal charges is challenging the evidence presented by prosecutors. This can involve questioning how the evidence was obtained or whether it was collected legally.

For example, evidence obtained through an illegal search or seizure may not be admissible in court. A skilled attorney will know how to identify potential issues with evidence collection and use them to their client’s advantage.

Negotiating Sentencing

Sentencing negotiations become critical if a defendant is found guilty of federal charges. In some cases, judges have discretion when imposing sentences for certain crimes.

A reasonable defense attorney will work to negotiate a fair sentence for their client, taking into account any mitigating factors that could reduce the severity of the punishment. This can include mental health issues, addiction problems, or other extenuating circumstances.

Appealing Convictions

Sometimes, a defendant may be found guilty of federal charges and wish to appeal the conviction. A skilled federal criminal defense lawyer can help with this process by identifying potential errors during the trial or sentencing phase.

Appeals can be complex and time-consuming, but they offer an opportunity to challenge a conviction and potentially have it overturned.

Types of Federal Crimes Your Dallas Defense Attorney Handles

Many criminal charges are considered federal offenses. These crimes usually cross state lines or involve federal criminal statutes or interstate commerce. Your Dallas federal defense attorney from our firm is experienced in handling all federal offenses.

Here are just a few of the types of federal crimes we handle. This is a partial list. Call our office to discuss your case.

Tax evasion

The consequences of tax evasion are not just limited to the individual committing the crime. Tax evasion can also have significant negative impacts on society as a whole. When individuals or businesses evade taxes, they are depriving the government of much-needed revenue that could be used to fund essential services like healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Examples of Tax Evasion

1. Underreporting income: This occurs when an individual or business fails to report all their income to the IRS in an attempt to pay less in taxes. For example, if someone works a side job and receives cash payments that they do not report on their tax return, they are committing tax evasion.

2. False deductions occur when an individual or business claims deductions for expenses they did not incur to reduce their taxable income. For example, if someone claims a deduction for charitable donations but does not make any donations, they are committing tax evasion.

3. Hiding assets offshore occurs when an individual or business moves money or assets offshore to avoid paying taxes. Offshore accounts can be difficult for authorities to trace and monitor, making them attractive options for those looking to evade taxes.


According to the IRS’s latest estimates from 2019 data, the annual net tax gap – which represents the difference between what taxpayers should have paid versus what was paid voluntarily and timely – was $381 billion! The largest share of this gap came from underreporting income (about 54%), followed by underpayment (about 39%) and non-filing (about 7%).

The IRS has also increased its enforcement efforts recently to combat tax evasion. In 2020, the IRS initiated over 1.8 million examinations, resulting in over $13 billion in additional taxes assessed.

Penalties for Tax Evasion

The penalties for tax evasion can be severe and include fines, interest charges, and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalty depends on the specific circumstances of the case, such as the amount of money involved and whether or not the individual has a prior history of tax evasion.

In addition to criminal penalties, individuals who commit tax evasion may also face civil penalties. These penalties can include additional taxes owed plus interest and penalties equal to 75% of the unpaid tax.

Mail, wire, and insurance fraud

Protect Against Mail, wire, and Insurance Fraud | Chris Lewis & Associates P.C.

Fraud is a serious crime that involves deception or misrepresentation for personal gain. Many types of fraud include mail, wire, and insurance fraud. In this section, we will discuss each type of fraud in detail.

Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a federal offense that involves the use of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to commit fraudulent activities. Some examples of mail fraud include sending false invoices or promotional materials through the mail to deceive people into giving money or personal information.

Charles Ponzi committed one famous case of mail fraud in the early 1900s. He promised investors high returns on their investments but used new investors’ money to pay off earlier investors instead of investing it as promised. This scheme eventually collapsed and became known as a “Ponzi scheme.”

Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is similar to mail fraud but involves electronic communications such as emails or phone calls instead of physical mail. Wire fraud can be committed across state lines, making it a federal offense.

One example of wire fraud is phishing scams, where scammers send fake emails pretending to be from legitimate companies to steal personal information like passwords and credit card numbers. Another example is when someone pretends to be a friend or family member needing financial assistance and asks for money via wire transfer.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud occurs when someone makes false claims or statements to an insurance company for financial gain. For example, someone might stage a car accident or exaggerate injuries to receive more compensation from an insurance claim.

According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF), insurance fraud costs Americans billions annually. The CAIF estimates that around 10% of all property/casualty insurance claims are fraudulent.

Healthcare fraud

The scope of healthcare fraud is vast and can be challenging to detect. One common form of healthcare fraud is billing for never provided services. This can include submitting claims for tests or procedures that were never performed or charging for equipment or supplies that were not used.

Another form of healthcare fraud is overbilling. This occurs when providers charge more than they should for a service or procedure. For example, a provider may bill Medicare for an expensive test when a less expensive one would have sufficed.

Healthcare fraud can also involve prescribing unnecessary treatments or drugs. This can occur when a provider receives kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing certain medications or when they order unnecessary tests to generate additional revenue.

One way to combat healthcare fraud is through increased oversight and regulation. The government has implemented several programs to detect and prevent fraudulent activity within the healthcare industry, such as the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

The impact of healthcare fraud goes beyond just financial losses; it can also put patients at risk by providing them with substandard care. For example, if a provider prescribes unnecessary medications or treatments, it could lead to adverse reactions or complications.

Furthermore, healthcare fraud can erode public trust in the healthcare system. Patients may become skeptical of providers and insurers, which could lead to decreased utilization of healthcare services.


Bribery in Business

Bribery can severely affect society, hindering economic growth, undermining democracy, and eroding public trust. When individuals or businesses engage in bribery to gain an unfair advantage over others, it creates an uneven playing field that stifles competition and innovation. This can lead to a lack of investment and development in specific sectors, ultimately harming the economy.

Furthermore, bribery undermines democracy by allowing those with wealth and power to influence political decisions at the expense of the general public’s interests. It also erodes public trust by creating a perception that those who hold positions of authority are corrupt and self-serving rather than acting in the best interests of their constituents.

Public corruption

  • Bribery

Bribery is the most common form of public corruption. It involves offering or receiving something of value in exchange for an official action or decision. Bribery can occur at all levels of government, from local officials to federal lawmakers. The impact of bribery on society is significant.

  • Embezzlement

Another type of public corruption is embezzlement. This occurs when a person entrusted with public funds steals them for personal gain. Embezzlement can happen in any organization that handles public funds, including government agencies and non-profit organizations. The impact of embezzlement on society is twofold: it deprives the community of much-needed resources and undermines trust in those who are supposed to be responsible for managing those resources.

  • Nepotism

Nepotism is another form of public corruption that occurs when someone in a position of power hires or promotes family members or friends over more qualified candidates. Nepotism can happen in any organization but is particularly damaging in government institutions where decisions should be made based on merit rather than personal relationships.

Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is a complex problem that affects many aspects of society. It involves the illegal production, transportation, and distribution of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The scope of drug trafficking is vast and includes domestic and international operations.

Domestic drug trafficking involves the production and distribution of drugs within a country’s borders. It is often carried out by criminal organizations or gangs who operate in cities or rural areas. These groups are responsible for producing drugs in clandestine labs or importing them from other countries to distribute locally.

International drug trafficking involves the movement of drugs across borders between different countries or regions. This type of drug trafficking is often carried out by large-scale criminal organizations with networks across multiple countries.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is not limited to one country or region but occurs worldwide. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are an estimated 21 million victims of human trafficking globally. This number includes adults and children subjected to various forms of exploitation.

In terms of sex trafficking specifically, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that women and girls make up 71% of all human trafficking victims, while men and boys make up 29%. The majority of these victims are trafficked within their own countries or regions.

Bank robbery

The topic of bank robbery is a serious issue that has been around for centuries. It is a crime involving the theft of money or other valuables from a bank, which can have devastating consequences for those interested. This section will delve into the various aspects of bank robbery, including its history, causes, effects, and prevention.

Computer crimes

As technology evolves, so does how people use it for criminal activities. Computer crimes refer to any illegal activity that involves a computer or network. These crimes range from hacking and identity theft to cyberstalking and child pornography. This section will explore the different types of computer crimes and their implications.

  • Hacking

Hacking refers to unauthorized access to a computer system or network with malicious intent. Hackers can access sensitive information such as financial records, personal data, and trade secrets. They can also cause damage by deleting files or installing malware.

One example of hacking is the 2017 Equifax data breach, where hackers accessed over 143 million customer records, including social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. This incident resulted in significant financial losses for individuals whose identities were stolen.

  • Identity Theft

Identity theft is another prevalent type of computer crime involving stealing personal information for fraud. Cybercriminals use various methods, such as phishing emails, fake websites, and malware, to obtain sensitive information, such as credit cards and social security numbers.

  • Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking refers to using electronic communication technologies such as email or social media platforms to harass or threaten someone repeatedly. This behavior can have serious psychological effects on victims leading them to feel anxious or fearful for their safety.

  • Child Pornography

Child pornography is an alarming computer crime involving the production, distribution, or possession of sexually explicit images or videos involving minors. This activity is illegal and can have severe legal consequences for those interested.

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, there were over 16 million reports of child sexual abuse material in 2020 alone. This highlights the need for increased efforts to combat this type of crime.


The consequences of embezzlement can be severe for the individual who commits the crime and the organization affected by it. In addition to facing criminal charges and potential imprisonment, individuals found guilty of embezzlement may also face civil lawsuits and damage to their reputation.

Types of Embezzlement

Many different types of embezzlement can occur in various contexts. 

  • One common type of embezzlement is employee theft, which occurs when an employee steals money or other assets from their employer. This could involve taking cash from a register or safe, stealing merchandise or supplies, or manipulating financial records to cover up fraudulent transactions.
  • Corporate fraud involves more complex schemes designed to deceive investors or shareholders. This could include falsifying financial statements or reports to make a company appear more profitable than it is.

Embezzlement can also occur in non-profit organizations when volunteers or staff members misuse funds intended for charitable purposes. This could involve using donations for personal expenses or diverting funds to other projects without authorization.

Money laundering

Money laundering is often associated with organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism financing. The penalties for money laundering can be severe, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. In addition to criminal sanctions, individuals convicted of money laundering may also face civil forfeiture of assets.

The Consequences of a Federal Criminal Conviction

When you’re convicted of a federal crime, your life will likely never be the same again. This is because, depending on the nature of the criminal complaint against you, you could be facing serious consequences.

One reason why federal criminal convictions are so serious is due to mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimums are essentially binding sentences involving baseline periods of incarceration that must be followed.

Opponents of minimum sentencing point out that mandatory minimums prevent judges from using their own discretion when passing down a sentence, as is the case when setting punishments for other crimes.

There are currently nearly two hundred different federal crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences. In 2019, of 76,538 cases reported to U.S. Sentencing Commission, 26.1 percent involved mandatory minimum sentencing. Some of the most prominent examples include:

  • Drug Trafficking – The vast majority of crimes impacted by mandatory minimum penalties are for drug trafficking. For all convicted drug traffickers in a recent year, the average sentence was for 133 months in federal prison if they were not offered sentencing relief, or 58 months if relief was granted. The type and class of drug in question also plays a part in these sentences. Defendants convicted of trafficking meth, for example, on average, were subject to harsher sentences under mandatory minimum laws than marijuana or heroin traffickers.
  • Identity Theft – Identity theft is a serious charge, underscored by the vast majority of defendants face mandatory minimum sentences when under federal prosecution. For those given relief, sentences averaged out at 30 months in federal prison; for those less fortunate, the average sentence was for 50 months.
  • Sex Offenders – At the federal level, sex offenses refer to people facing charges related to either sexual abuse or child pornography. The punishments for these crimes at the federal level can be quite severe. For people convicted of sexual abuse without relief from a mandatory minimum, the average sentence in a recent year was 257 months. For child pornography offenders, the average mandatory minimum sentence without relief was 130 months in federal prison.
  • Firearms Offenders – For firearms offenders convicted under one federal statute, the average sentence without relief from mandatory minimums was 148 months. For others tried under a law for Armed Career Criminals, the average sentence was 206 months without relief.

As if these sentences weren’t difficult enough, the consequences of a federal criminal conviction extend beyond just incarceration. You could also be forced to pay restitution, be placed under surveillance, or on probation.

In addition, your personal and professional reputation will likely suffer as the result of a federal criminal conviction. You could be barred from working in certain professions, made to live in certain areas, or placed on a sex offender registry—all depending on the nature of your crimes.

These consequences highlight the importance of seeking out help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you are convicted.

Can a Dallas Federal Defense Lawyer Help You?

You are likely scared after being charged with a federal crime, and you know you need to get legal help. However, you may be skeptical of how a Dallas federal criminal defense attorney can assist you with your case.

They will start by examining your case to find the holes. They will then build your defense based on the specifics of your case. The FBI or other law enforcement officials could have violated your rights. They may not have enough evidence to convict you. You might simply be under suspicion, but they are after much bigger fish.

You might be innocent of any crime, and you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s imperative you contact an attorney right away, even if you aren’t sure you’re being investigated. An attorney can give you legal advice before you get yourself into hot water that can no longer be cooled down.

Team Up with a Federal Defense Attorney in Dallas, Texas

If you are convicted of a federal criminal offense, your life will never be the same. These types of crimes are usually serious, and you could be looking at imprisonment for a long time. In addition, you will likely lose your job due to a conviction, and your criminal record will work against you for life. You could even lose certain rights because of your conviction.

Make the call to a Dallas federal criminal defense lawyer to discover what your options are. Chris Lewis & Associates, P.C. has an attorney who is ready to build your defense today. Call 214-665-6930 or complete the internet contact form below.

Our Dallas Office

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer FAQ

If you’ve been arrested or detained, one of the most important things you can do is remain calm and remember your rights. And, as soon as you’re able, put in a call to a trusted criminal defense lawyer.  Some of the common questions we get from people who’ve been placed under arrest include:

Why am I being charged with a federal crime instead of a state crime?

Although it’s true federal crimes are often more severe than state crimes, in reality, the difference between a state and federal crime is a matter of jurisdiction. Crimes committed on public or federal land often fall under federal jurisdiction. Similarly, crimes involving illicit interstate commerce or movement, as well as most cyber crimes, may involve federal investigators or agencies, and therefore, be charged at the federal level.

What are my rights during a federal criminal investigation?

No matter the charges you’re facing, your fundamental rights still remain—the right to not self-incriminate, the right to legal counsel, and many others. Being unaware of your rights doesn’t mean they don’t apply—contact an experienced attorney for help.

Do I really need an attorney?

With so much on the line, hiring an attorney with experience representing defendants in federal criminal cases is absolutely vital. Your criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights and achieve the best result possible, given the unique circumstances of the charges you’re facing.


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