A conviction for federal theft can have lasting repercussions, including prison time, hefty fines, and damage to your reputation. With so much at stake, having an experienced federal theft attorney is essential.
At Federal Criminal Attorneys of Michigan, we know what you’re up against. Federal prosecutors have unlimited resources that put you at a disadvantage. Trust us to help you fight federal theft charges and protect your rights and freedom. Contact us today to get started.
Understanding Federal Theft Crimes
Federal theft involves unlawfully taking someone else’s property with the intention of permanently depriving them of it, particularly when the act impacts interstate commerce or federal property. Such crimes can be complex and are distinct from state theft crimes in several ways. Federal theft crimes include:
- Theft from interstate shipments – This refers to the theft of goods being transported from one state to another.
- Embezzlement of public money – Misappropriating funds entrusted to one’s care but owned by the federal government is a grave federal offense, for example, a government employee misusing federal funds.
- Theft of federal property – Any unlawful taking of property owned by the federal government, including tangible items like vehicles or intangible assets like intellectual property, falls under this category.
- Identity theft – Although identity theft can be a state crime, when it affects interstate commerce (for instance, using another state’s resident’s information), identity theft becomes a federal offense
- Credit card fraud – Similar to identity theft, credit card fraud can be prosecuted at both the state and federal levels. This offense falls under federal jurisdiction when it involves banks or financial institutions that operate interstate.
- Theft of major artwork – Theft of artwork from a museum, if the artwork is of significant value and if the museum receives federal funding, can lead to federal charges.
- Theft of cultural heritage items – This federal offense involves stealing or illegally trafficking Native American cultural items or archaeological resources.
How Federal Theft Differs from State-Level Offenses
The primary distinction between federal and state theft offenses lies in the jurisdiction and the nature of the crime. Federal theft crimes often involve matters that cross state lines or affect the federal government directly. For instance, stealing mail from a U.S. Post Office box or engaging in fraud that affects interstate commerce can lead to federal charges.
While both state and federal authorities can prosecute theft, grand-scale thefts, especially those involving significant sums of money, sophisticated operations, or impacting national and international entities, usually draw federal attention. Federal agencies, such as the FBI, investigate federal theft while local or state police usually investigate state-level crimes.
Importantly, federal penalties can often be more severe than state penalties. Federal courts rely on the federal sentencing guidelines to determine penalties, which can lead to longer prison terms, especially for significant theft offenses or those involving aggravating factors, such as the use of a weapon during the commission of the crime. At Federal Criminal Attorneys of Michigan, our seasoned team is well-versed in navigating the complexities of both federal and state theft crimes.
Penalties for Federal Theft
Do not take federal theft charges lightly. Though penalties vary, they can be severe:
- Prison time – Convictions can result in imprisonment for several months to many years, depending on the amount involved.
- Fines – Monetary penalties can be significant, sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
- Restitution – Offenders may be required to repay the value of the stolen items or funds.
Apart from legal consequences, there may also be collateral consequences, not the least of which are a tarnished reputation and the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or possess firearms. When your freedom and future are on the line, turn to Federal Criminal Attorneys of Michigan.
Defending against federal theft charges requires deep legal understanding and strategic planning.
Depending on the circumstances, potential defenses include:
- Lack of intent – arguing that the defendant didn’t intend to steal or permanently deprive the owner of the property.
- Claim of right – asserting that the defendant believed they had a rightful claim to the property in question.
- Insufficient evidence – challenging the adequacy of the prosecution’s evidence
- Mistaken identity – arguing that the defendant was wrongly identified as the perpetrator.
How Our Firm Can Help
At Federal Criminal Attorneys of Michigan, we provide powerful representation against the forces of the federal government. If you are facing federal theft charges, we will carefully assess the government’s case and choose the best line of defense. Our objective is to win an acquittal, but we will consider plea negotiations if doing so is in your best interests. You can depend on us to guide you through the federal judicial system, protecting your rights every step of the way.
Contact An Experienced Michigan Federal Theft Attorney
You face an uncertain future if you have been charged with federal theft. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner can start working on your defense.