There are literally thousands of federal criminal laws on the books today, and learning them all would take more than a few law school courses. But we at Burdick Law want everyone who is interested in understanding how the federal system works, or who is facing charges in that system, to have a solid understanding of what the laws are, what they mean, and what kind of penalties attach to them if you are convicted.
The Federal Criminal Code is divided into “Titles” or general sections. The most expansive set of criminal offenses is contained in what is called Title 18 United States Code. There the Code describes “general” criminal offenses, such as conspiracy; aiding and abetting; mail fraud; wire fraud; embezzelment; racketeering; money laundering; healthcare fraud; perjury (lying in court) and false statements (lying to to any federal officer or agent); racketeering (“RICO”); terrorism; obstruction of justice.
The second most commonly used sections is Title 21, which describes prohibited conduct related to drugs and narcotics violations.
Another important section is Title 31, which addresses all manner of financial institution violations, such as international money laundering and illegal structuring of financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements.
One important general matter relating to federal criminal law: in most state courts, there are generally what is called preliminary examinations (also called probable cause hearings) in advance of any referral of a felony charge to a trial court. The “neutral examining magistrate” must find probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that the defendant committed that crime.
In federal court there is, instead, grand jury presentation, review and consideration of the allegations made by an Assistant United States Attorney against individuals. The theory of a grand jury is that these citizens listening (in secret) to the government’s allegations stand in the place of that independent state magistrate, and make that probable cause call.
More about all of these matters to follow soon – so please follow Burdick Law, P.C.