Virginia Federal Criminal Cases: Arrest Process

Someone facing federal criminal charges in Virginia are looking at very serious repercussions. These cases can get very complicated, especially because jurisdictional issues can often pop up. It is in a person’s best interests to seek out an experienced Virginia federal criminal lawyer as soon as they believe they may be under investigation for a federal crime.

Federal Criminal Charges v. State Criminal Charges

It is different because while many of the laws in the federal system are similar to the laws in the state system, the punishments can differ greatly. Both Virginia and the federal government have discretionary sentencing guidelines and each set of guidelines assigns a certain value to the offenses that are charged. Then ancillary issues that might surround the charges such as previous record, role in the offense, damage to the victim, and loss amount if it is a financial crime, are counted differently by each jurisdiction.

In many cases the federal system levies harsher penalties than the Virginia system does, but there are certain types of cases where Virginia levies harsher penalties than you might expect, perhaps harsher than the federal penalties. The laws are generally very similar, but the consequences can be very different. The ambiguity of federal charges is why it is helpful to retain a Virginia federal criminal attorney by your side. He or she will be able to provide needed insight into how your particular case is being prosecuted and what actions you should take to mitigate negative consequences to your record.

Anytime a person is arrested or indicted in the federal system it becomes a part of their criminal record, which is accessible by any law enforcement agency across the country.

Common Arrest Scenarios in Virginia Federal Criminal Cases

Perhaps one of the most common federal criminal charges is simply an arrest on a federally-owned property inside Virginia for an event like a DWI or other significant traffic offense, or another misdemeanor that takes place on federal property.

In the more serious cases involving felony charges, typically an arrest will take place either at the commission of the offense or after an arrest warrant is issued subsequent to an indictment. In either case you will be arrested by a federal agent from the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, DEA, or other law enforcement agency.

Law Enforcement Officials Involved in Federal Criminal Arrests

At some point, if you are going to be charged with a federal offense in Virginia, you are going to be arrested by a federal agent. However, it is possible to be charged with federal offenses after being arrested by local Virginia authorities. An example is a drug case where a local Virginia law enforcement officer arrests a person for a simple drug transaction, only to find out upon investigation that that person is involved in a much larger drug ring. Perhaps the drug ring is already in the crosshairs of a federal investigator. In that circumstance, the federal government will politely ask the local law enforcement agency to drop the charges against that person so that they can then arrest and charge them in federal court. When something like that happens, it will be beneficial to have a Virginia federal criminal lawyer by your side to guide you through the process.