Why Federal Crimes are Different

The Federal criminal system is vastly different than State or local criminal jurisdictions. The Federal Government spends years building cases and gathering evidence. If you are the target of a Federal investigation it is very likely you will be charged with a crime. Most Federal cases do not go to trial because the Federal Government will not seek an Indictment until their case is extremely strong. Early preparation and often cooperation can be the key to mitigating the consequences of a Federal charge. Michele has represented individuals charged with Federal crimes for two decades and has built excellent relationships with Federal Judges, Probation Officers, and Assistant US Attorneys.

Federal Investigations and Target Letters

You could be the subject of a Federal Investigation and be in the dark for years. It is not uncommon for Federal Agents to spend several years gathering information. This might include stings, surveillance of your activities or home, wire taps, and review of your financial records. Agents can obtain authorization to gather this information from a Judge. Once agents have information they believe is sufficient to support charges, you may be notified by a target letter, subpoena, or Indictment. In some cases agents will send Target Letters inviting you to speak with them. You should never speak with a Federal Agent without the advice of an attorney. Anything said to a Federal Agent will be recorded and used as evidence against you.


An indictment is the formal accusation that someone committed a Federal crime. An indictment occurs after a Grand Jury has reviewed the evidence presented by the Government. The Grand Jury will evaluate the evidence and determine whether they think there is sufficient information to show that a person committed a crime and should be indicted. If the Grand Jury indicts the accused will be summoned to court or arrested.

Representation of Witnesses and Grand Jury Testimony

Part of the Government’s information to the Grand Jury may include testimony by witnesses. If you are summoned to testify at a Grand Jury you should contact an attorney. Although your attorney cannot be with you during your Grand Jury testimony, you should meet with an attorney prior to testifying to evaluate whether it is likely you could be charged with a crime. Testifying in a Grand Jury does not protect you from Federal Charges.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

When a person is sentenced in Federal Court, the Judge will review the Federal Sentencing Guidelines before imposing a sentence. The Guidelines were created to provide uniform sentences for individuals convicted of similar crimes. The Guidelines are no longer mandatory but Judges generally do follow them. The Guidelines contain numerous provisions recommending higher or lower sentences based on the specific conduct. Understanding the Sentencing Guidelines is extremely important in achieving the best possible sentence.