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Federal Solicitation Charges: Understanding the Laws, Penalties and Defenses

Defending Against Federal Criminal Solicitation Charges

If you are facing allegations of soliciting criminal activity under federal law, experienced legal counsel is critical to avoid severe penalties. Solicitation charges are complex, covering crimes never actually committed based only on speech or communication. Here is an overview of key federal solicitation statutes, government investigation approaches, potential defenses, and finding the right lawyer when accused of criminal solicitation.

Federal Laws Prohibiting Solicitation

Major statutes prohibiting solicitation include:

18 U.S.C. § 373 – Soliciting injury or murder. Up to 20 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 1512 – Soliciting witness tampering or obstruction. Up to 20 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 1361 – Soliciting property destruction. Up to 10 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 1952 – Soliciting crimes like arson, murder, bribery. Up to 5 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 2 – Aiding and abetting solicitation. Equally liable as the principal.

These laws make soliciting federal offenses equivalent to actually committing them. But ambiguous language like “commanding, inducing, or otherwise endeavoring to persuade”another to engage in crime leaves room for argument.

Investigation and Prosecution

Solicitation cases often originate from FBI undercover stings. Agents pose as hitmen, saboteurs, or co-conspirators to draw incriminating requests and offers of payment from targets. Recorded communications are critical evidence.

Other tactics include monitoring suspects through wiretaps, surveillance, and informants. Admit nothing if questioned and provide no evidence without an attorney.

Crafting an Effective Legal Defense

Several strategies exist to contest solicitation charges:

Entrapment – Argue government agents improperly manipulated the accused into soliciting crimes versus initiating ideas.
Mere idle talk – Contend language did not actually request commission of a crime.
Insufficient evidence – Challenge whether recorded communications prove intent beyond reasonable doubt.
Mistake of fact – Claim misunderstanding the “hitman” was real versus an undercover agent.
Mental defect – Assert mental illness or disability prevented forming criminal intent.

When applicable, raising reasonable doubt can defeat charges. Skilled counsel identifies and asserts the strongest defenses.

Negotiating Reduced Sentencing

If conviction occurs, experienced lawyers can potentially negotiate shorter sentences by:

Demonstrating the defendant had minimal actual involvement in planning
Providing cooperation against more culpable co-defendants
Accepting responsibility and expressing remorse
Highlighting addiction or mental health factors needing treatment, not incarceration
Citing family responsibilities and people who rely on the defendant
Pointing out the person has no prior criminal history

Any mitigation of sentencing is a victory, even if charges cannot be dismissed completely.

Selecting the Right Defense Lawyer

Facing federal solicitation allegations is daunting. Key credentials to prioritize in securing legal counsel include:

Experience defending complex First Amendment issues around speech acts
Familiarity with federal law enforcement sting tactics and how to challenge them
Strong relationships with federal prosecutors and judges
Willingness to take winnable cases to trial
Sentencing mitigation skills to reduce penalties in plea deals
Resources to reconstruct events and build compelling defense narratives

Retaining an assertive advocate immersed in the federal system is crucial when facing such accusations.

An Aggressive Defense Against Egregious Charges

While any federal felony case poses challenges, the right lawyer minimizes risks and builds the strongest case possible. Seasoned attorneys can expose flaws in government stings and evidence while humanizing clients. With experienced counsel guiding your defense, you can counter even intimidating solicitation allegations boldly.

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