31st March 2020
What are North Dakota Federal Charges?
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes throughout the state and for prosecuting all violent crimes occurring within the Fort Berthold Reservation, the Spirit Lake Reservation, and the Turtle Mountain Reservation.
Federal criminal charges are generally much more serious than state charges, even when the alleged underlying offense is relatively similar. U.S. Attorney Chris Myers has stated: “It is no secret that the penalties in federal court for drug trafficking are much more severe than state court.”
Prosecution of Federal Charges
Federal prosecutors have vast investigative resources at their disposal and have a reputation for assembling evidence very thoroughly. Federal prosecutors are also much more likely to successfully extradite suspects across state and international lines. Notably, in just the past few years the U.S. Marshall’s Service has arrested over ten people in Jamaica and extradited them to North Dakota to face trial for a telemarketing fraud scheme. In addition to its extradition powers, the U.S. Attorney’s office directs a powerful combination of law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as coordinating task forces with state and local agencies.
Commonly charged federal offenses in the District of North Dakota are drug trafficking (41.8% of charges in North Dakota), child pornography (6.6%), sexual abuse (6.4%) and firearm-related charges (11.4%).
Sentences for Federal Crimes
Another significant difference between state and federal charges is that federal sentencing guidelines are much more rigid than state sentences. There is no parole in the federal prison system, and almost all federal inmates will serve at least 85% of their sentence. Sentences are also strictly governed by the federal sentencing guidelines, lessening the discretion of the court and the prosecution.
Federal sentences almost always include prison time. For example, in 2016 less than 2% of federal sentences in North Dakota did not involve prison time.
Sentencing guidelines lead many accused people to accept plea deals for lesser offenses that carry with them less serious sentencing. In the District of North Dakota, over 95% of people charged in federal court accept a plea deal, with just 4.2% of cases going to trial. This amounts to only 15 federal criminal trials in North Dakota in 2016. Unlike in North Dakota State Courts, which tend to be swamped with low-level charges, federal prosecutors often have more time to prepare for the fewer amount of trials they handle each year.
Federal Vs State Charge Jurisdiction
In most cases, federal charges will apply if a person does not just commit a crime in their state alone. When someone commits a crime across state lines then it can become a federal matter where federal charges will apply. Federal charges can also apply when a crime is committed on federal property. For example, if someone commits a crime in a building belonging to the federal government or land belonging to the federal government such as a national park then they can face federal charges. Moving from a state to a federal charge escalates the matter significantly. While someone may face federal charges, this does not always eliminate state charges. There are many instances where a person can be charged on both the state and federal levels for the same crime that they committed. What can also happen is the federal government may choose to step in if the state charges brought against you fail.
Criminal Defense of Federal Charges
Because of the severity of federal sentencing and federal resources, it is essential to retain competent criminal defense representation as soon as possible when federal charges are brought. Sand Law, PLLC has a successful track record of providing effective representation in federal criminal cases across North Dakota including Indian Country. Our team of experienced defense attorneys has successfully represented clients throughout all stages of federal investigation and prosecution, from initial appearances and extradition hearings through the appeal process.
If you are facing criminal charges from the U.S. Attorney in North Dakota, you cannot count on the government making mistakes and you cannot afford to make mistakes in your own representation. Our lawyers work with you at every step along the way to build an air-tight defense and ensure that you are afforded every constitutional protection that you deserve. We never forget that you are innocent until proven otherwise, and we will fight alongside you to defend your freedom.
Consider Sand Law for Your Legal Representation
If you are facing federal charges or investigation, contact Sand Law as soon as possible to set up a no-cost consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys. Our attorneys can provide you with the expert legal representation you will need to stand the best chance possible in your defense against federal prosecution. Our attorneys have years of experience and a long record of successful cases under their belts for a number of satisfied clients.
With attorneys licensed to practice in Federal Court and offices in Watford City, Williston, Minot, and Bismarck – we stand ready to defend your rights.