Minnesota Federal Law Attorney
There is an old saying “don’t make a federal case out of it”. That phrase is defined as taking a small issue and turning it into a serious, complicated matter. There is a certain truth in this saying, as Federal criminal cases are many times treated far more seriously than a similar charge in state court. The federal process is more bureaucratic, more structured and offers less flexibility than case charges at the local level.
Most people do not realize that, if they are charged with a criminal offense, it is possible that it can be charged twice -both by both the State of Minnesota and the Federal Government. Having this “double prosecution” does not constitute double jeopardy.
Federal charges can involve significant or high profile cases involving hundreds, if not millions, of dollars in alleged wrongdoing, banking or mortgage fraud or similar large-scale matters that might involve interstate commerce.
The charging process in Federal court can start with a Grand Jury, which is a group of 16 to 23 citizens that are brought together to determine if there is enough evidence for charges to issue against someone. If the Grand Jury issues the indictment, criminal charges in Minnesota will be handled in one of the federal courthouses, such as: St. Paul, Minneapolis or Duluth.
Sentencing in Federal cases is governed by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which involve a mathematical calculation of a defendant’s prior criminal record and the points assigned for the severity of the new offense. A score is reached which determines a sentencing range. Until recently, those guidelines were mandatory for a judge to follow, but now judges are allowed some deviation for sentencing.