Atlanta Federal Criminal Lawyers: Your Guide to Finding the Best Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a federal crime in Atlanta, having an experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side is absolutely crucial. Federal crimes carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, massive fines, and lifelong consequences. The federal prosecutors who handle these cases have vast resources at their disposal and will aggressively pursue convictions.
This article provides an in-depth look at federal criminal defense in Atlanta – the types of federal crimes prosecuted, how the federal criminal justice system works, when you need a lawyer, how to choose the right attorney, and more. We’ll also highlight some of the top federal criminal defense firms in Atlanta that you can turn to for skilled and aggressive representation.
Overview of Federal Crimes in Atlanta
There are thousands of federal criminal statutes on the books covering a wide array of offenses. Some of the most commonly prosecuted federal crimes in Atlanta include:
- Drug crimes – Drug trafficking, distribution, manufacturing, possession with intent to distribute, etc. Handled by agencies like the DEA and FBI
- White collar crimes – Wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, money laundering, healthcare fraud, securities fraud, etc. Often investigated by the FBI or IRS
- Firearms offenses – Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, selling firearms without a license
- Child pornography crimes
- Cybercrimes – Hacking, identity theft, computer fraud
- Public corruption – Bribery, extortion, racketeering by public officials
- Immigration offenses – Illegal re-entry, marriage fraud, visa fraud
- Violent crimes – Kidnapping, robbery, murder, assault, domestic violence, hate crimes
The key factor that makes these federal, rather than state, crimes is some sort of interstate commerce or federal jurisdiction element. The penalties are severe – federal sentencing guidelines often call for lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences.
How the Federal Criminal Justice System Works
The federal criminal justice system has many distinct features you need to understand:
- Federal agencies like FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS, ICE conduct investigations
- They have expansive resources and powers – wiretaps, informants, surveillance
- Federal prosecutors ultimately decide whether to press charges
- U.S. Attorney’s Office for each federal district handles prosecutions
- Federal grand juries decide whether to issue an indictment formally charging a crime
- Defense lawyers can argue before the grand jury against indictment
- Initial court hearing where defendant is informed of charges against them
- Opportunity to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest)
Bail & Pretrial Detention
- Judge decides whether defendant should be released on bail pending trial, or detained
- Bail reform laws make pretrial release more likely, except for serious crimes
- Vast majority of federal cases end in a plea bargain rather than trial
- Defendants plead guilty in exchange for charging/sentencing concessions
- Federal judges impose sentences based on federal sentencing guidelines
- Guidelines calculate sentencing ranges based on the crime, criminal history, and other factors
- Defendants can appeal conviction and sentence to federal circuit court and U.S. Supreme Court
- Appeals focus on legal and constitutional errors in the case
Federal criminal cases move quickly, and every stage of the process can have lifelong consequences. Having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is essential.
When Do You Need a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you believe you are being investigated for or have been charged with a federal crime, it is critical to engage a federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Here are some key times when you need legal help:
- Investigation Stage – If federal agents have questioned you or served you with a grand jury subpoena, you need counsel to protect your rights. They can help you avoid charges or minimize exposure.
- After Charges Filed – Once you have been charged, only an experienced federal criminal attorney can guide you through the complex pretrial process, plea negotiations, and sentencing.
- For a Grand Jury Proceeding – Grand juries decide whether to issue indictments formally charging crimes. Defense lawyers can argue before them against charging you.
- For a Sentencing Hearing – Federal sentencing guidelines are complex. A lawyer can argue for the lowest possible sentence under the guidelines.
- If You Violate Bail, Parole, or Probation – Unintentional violations can still land you back in prison. An attorney can help minimize the consequences.
- To Explore Appeals Options – Appeals can overturn convictions due to legal or constitutional errors. Lawyers know how to identify appealable issues.
The worst thing you can do after being charged with a federal crime is think you can handle it on your own without an attorney. Federal prosecutors have vast resources and experience – the help of a federal criminal defense lawyer levels the playing field.
How to Choose the Best Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta
Not all lawyers have the skills and experience to take on federal criminal cases and achieve successful results against the U.S. government. When researching federal criminal defense attorneys in Atlanta, here are key factors to consider:
Look for Substantial Federal Criminal Experience
It takes many years of practice to truly understand the complexities of federal criminal law and procedure. Look for an attorney with at least 10-15 years of experience specifically handling federal cases.
Seek Out Former Federal Prosecutors
Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys and federal prosecutors have a unique perspective that aids criminal defense, since they have been on the other side. Their insights can prove invaluable.
Find Someone Who Regularly Handles Cases in Your Court
Each federal district court has its own unique judges, prosecutors, and “way of doing things.” Local knowledge and relationships are extremely beneficial.
Consider Attorneys with Backgrounds in Complex Financial Crimes
Many federal charges involve financial and fraud allegations. Lawyers with backgrounds in forensic accounting, fraud investigations, etc. can dig into the evidence and mount technical defenses.
Look for Negotiation Skills and Trial Experience
The best lawyers have experience taking federal cases to trial and mounting vigorous defenses when needed. But they also have negotiation skills to secure favorable plea deals.
Verify Disciplinary History
Use resources like the State Bar website to ensure the lawyer has a clean disciplinary record without suspensions, disbarments, or serious sanctions.
Meet for a Free Consultation
Never retain a lawyer without first meeting in person to discuss your case’s details, explore defense options, and verify it is a good fit.
With severe penalties on the line, it is critical to have a federal criminal defense lawyer with the skills, experience, and determination to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Top Federal Criminal Defense Firms in Atlanta
If you or a loved one are facing federal criminal charges in Atlanta, here are some of the top-rated federal criminal defense firms to consider reaching out to:
Finch McCranie, LLP
- Exclusively handle federal criminal defense cases
- Founding partners each have 25+ years of federal criminal experience
- Deep experience with healthcare fraud, financial fraud, public corruption, and drug cases
Garland, Samuel & Loeb, P.C.
- Three distinguished former federal prosecutors lead this firm
- Over 150 years of combined federal criminal defense experience
- Practice areas include healthcare fraud, internet crimes, money laundering, and more
The Bennett Law Firm
- Boutique firm focusing exclusively on federal criminal defense and appeals
- Founding partner is a former federal prosecutor
- Experience with cases involving drugs, fraud, sex crimes, immigration, and firearms
The Keenan Law Firm
- Firm includes an award-winning federal criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor
- Experience with cases involving drugs, white collar crimes, sex offenses, and violent crimes
- Based in Atlanta, but handle federal cases nationwide
Krevolin & Horst, LLC
- Firm partners have over 60 years of combined federal criminal defense experience
- Handle cases across the U.S. involving fraud, corruption, regulatory violations, and more
- One founding partner is a former federal prosecutor
Facing federal criminal charges is an extremely serious matter that could change the course of your life. The federal government has vast resources and will work relentlessly to secure convictions with harsh penalties. Having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in your corner can help minimize the charges against you and consequences you face.
Use this guide to understand the federal criminal process, when you need an attorney, and how to select the best lawyer for your case in Atlanta. Reach out to a respected federal criminal defense firm for a free consultation as soon as possible after learning you are under investigation or charged with a federal crime. An skilled lawyer can protect your rights, build an aggressive defense, and help you obtain the most favorable outcome.