State and Federal Criminal Charges in Dallas

The Difference Between State and Federal Criminal Charges

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In criminal law, it’s necessary to understand the key distinctions between State and Federal criminal charges. These differences can significantly impact the legal processes and consequences that individuals may face. To shed light on this topic, we’ll explore the nuances, with a particular focus on the State of Texas, where attorney James Lee Bright is ready to guide you through the intricacies of criminal defense.

State vs. Federal Jurisdiction

One of the most basic distinctions between State and Federal criminal charges lies in the jurisdiction under which the cases are prosecuted. State charges are filed and prosecuted by the District Attorney of the county in which the alleged offense occurred and typically involve alleged violations of State statutes. On the other hand, Federal charges are brought forth by the United States Attorney’s Office and involve violations of Federal statutes.

In Texas, the State has its own set of criminal statutes that cover a wide range of offenses, from theft to assault to drug crimes, among many others. When a person is facing criminal charges related to these state-specific laws, they will be dealing with State authorities, including local law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, and courts. James Lee Bright, as a dedicated criminal defense attorney, is well-versed in Texas state laws and can provide tailored guidance for cases at this level.

Federal Crimes in Texas

While state laws govern many criminal matters, there are instances when federal authorities become involved. Federal criminal charges typically involve violations of laws that apply nationwide, such as drug trafficking, sex trafficking, certain white-collar crimes, and immigration offenses, amongst many others. When a person is facing Federal charges, the case will be prosecuted in a Federal court by the Department of Justice, in essence pitting a person against the entire Federal government.

James Lee Bright, with his expertise in Federal criminal defense, can navigate the complexities of the Federal legal system and provide the strong representation to anyone who has been targeted by the United States Attorney. His experience in the Texas and National Federal legal communities ensures that a person charged with a crime will have a highly knowledgeable and experienced advocate by their side.

Penalties and Sentencing

Another critical difference between State and Federal criminal charges pertains to the potential penalties one might face. State laws determine the range of punishment for state-level offenses, which can include fines, probation, community service, and imprisonment. The severity of these penalties often depends on the specific offense and a defendant’s criminal history.

Federal crimes, on the other hand, typically carry more severe penalties. Unlike State punishment ranges, punishment for a Federal offense is determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which are structured, giving judges much less discretion in the sentence he/she can impose. The consequences for Federal offenses can involve lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, and other restrictions that can significantly impact a person’s life.

James Lee Bright’s extensive experience in both State and Federal criminal defense equips him to assess the potential consequences of a specific case and develop a strategic defense strategy tailored to each client’s unique circumstances.

Investigation and Prosecution

The process of investigation and prosecution also differs between State and Federal criminal charges. State-level cases are typically investigated by local law enforcement agencies and prosecuted by district attorneys at the county level. This means that the resources available for investigation and prosecution can vary from one county to another at the State level.

In contrast, Federal cases are investigated by Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Federal prosecutors, known as United States Attorneys, handle the prosecution of Federal cases. These prosecutors have substantial resources and extensive experience, making Federal cases highly challenging to defend against without the right legal representation.

James Lee Bright’s expertise in Federal criminal defense ensures that anyone charged with a Federal offense has a strong advocate who understands the nuances of Federal investigations and prosecutions. Whether you’re facing State or Federal charges, James Lee Bright will work tirelessly to protect a client’s rights and provide a robust defense.

Double Jeopardy and Dual Prosecution

In some cases, individuals may wonder about the possibility of facing both State and Federal charges for the same conduct, raising concerns about double jeopardy. Double jeopardy, as protected by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, prevents individuals from being prosecuted twice for the same offense in the same jurisdiction.

However, it’s important to note that State and Federal governments are separate sovereigns, and double jeopardy protections typically do not apply when both jurisdictions pursue charges for the same conduct. This means that an individual could potentially face state charges, serve a sentence, and then face federal charges for the same conduct, or vice versa.

James Lee Bright’s comprehensive understanding of Texas and Federal criminal statutes allows him to navigate these complexities and develop effective defense strategies, even in cases involving dual prosecution.

Understanding the difference between State and Federal criminal charges is crucial when navigating the criminal justice system. In Texas, where the legal landscape can be intricate, having an experienced attorney like James Lee Bright can make all the difference.

Whether you are facing State or Federal charges, James Lee Bright’s dedication to protecting your rights, extensive knowledge of Texas laws, and proficiency in Federal criminal defense make him a formidable advocate. If you or a loved one are in need of legal counsel, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of James Lee Bright for the skilled representation you deserve. With James Lee Bright’s guidance, you can navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system with confidence.

Do Not be Tempted to Cheat the State in a Slow Economy

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The economy is in dire straits, as everyone knows.  Unemployment is up.  Gas prices are again on the rise.  Times are difficult for almost every American, no matter who they are.  When times are difficult, there are times when we start to consider options that we might not consider otherwise.  Any time the economy is poor, when unemployment is up, there are increases in the numbers of people making use of some of the social programs set up to help those who need help, i.e. unemployment, food stamps, TANF, etc.  During these times, there is also a rise in people who take advantage of that system.

The State has little patience for those who fraudulently syphon benefits that could go to those who truly need it.  In times of economic downturn, the State has even less patience with those people.  There has been a very dramatic increase in the number of these benefit fraud cases over the last year or so.  The State does not hesitate to prosecute these cases to the full extent of the law.  Times are tough, but do not make them tougher by subjecting yourself to this kind of prosecution.

Supreme Court Makes Major Change to Juvenile Criminal Law

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The United States Supreme Court has recently ruled that persons under the age of 18 may no longer be sentenced to a prison term of life without the possibility of parole.  The Court has stated that those who commit crimes as juveniles, citing a number of reasons, should not be punished for the entirety of their lives based on decisions that they make when they are legally considered children.  Click on the link below to read the Court’s decision.

Know What to Do if You are Stopped for DWI.

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Many people know the discomfort of seeing a police car while driving after having had a drink or two before getting behind the wheel.  Fewer, however, know the terror of actually being stopped under those circumstances.  The decisions a person makes in those minutes enormously influence what evidence the State will have against you when they prosecute.

Police have routines.  One of those routines is to say that they “detect the odor of alcohol” when pulling over a person driving during peak “drinking hours”, usually evenings and weekends.  This is the statement they use to say that they have probable cause to get you out of the vehicle and to begin a DWI investigation.

After you are out of the car, be very aware that you are being video and audio recorded. Stand as straight as possible. Do not be chatty.  Answer questions as succinctly as possible.  You have the right to refuse any roadside breath tests or field sobriety tests that are offered to you.

You will also be taped once you have entered a special room in the Police station once you have been brought in.  Again, stand as straight as possible and answer any questions succinctly.  You have the right to refuse a breath test when they ask you to take it.  In Texas, it is legal, however, for Police agencies to secure blood-draw warrants, which allows for blood to be taken from you.  Do no resist or tell the Police that your Constitutional rights are being violated.

The videotape and audio recordings are a large part of the evidence used against you.  The better you look and sound, the harder it is to prove that you were impaired.  If you, a friend or loved one is arrested for DWI, contact our offices immediately.



By | dallas lawyers, Uncategorized

Unfortunately, what a person thinks should be illegal has no bearing on what is actually illegal.  And sometimes, what people see as common sense is too simplistic for the vast and confusing web of laws that exist on both the State and Federal levels.  For example, one would logically assume that to receive a charge for the possession of illegal drugs, one would actually need to be in possession of those drugs.  However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (The Texas Supreme Court for Criminal Law) has recently ruled that this is not the case.

In Blackman v. State, 2011 WL 1376732 (Tx. Crim. App. 2011), a person was arrested, tried and convicted of the offense of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.  The defendant in question was riding in the passenger seat of a car in which the drugs in question were discovered on the floorboard behind the driver’s seat.  The Court of Criminal Appeals stated ANY rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  In other words, the Court was stating that any jury of reasonable people would assume that by riding in the car, the defendant knew and most likely handled the drugs at some point.  As a result of this ruling, ANY person who places themselves in the vicinity of illegal drugs places themselves in a position to be charged with possession of those drugs.

Is this common sense?  How often when you get into someone else’s car do you check under the seat to see if they hide their drugs there?  When was the last time when you looked under the seats of your car to see what was under there?  What one may think is common sense DOES NOT MATTER with regards to the laws on the books and courts’ interpetations of those laws.

The Bottom Line:  If you put yourself into a situation where there are drugs around, know that you too can be charged with possession of those drugs, even if they aren’t yours, they aren’t in your control and even if you had no idea there were drugs in the immediate area.  Be careful where you go and who you associate with.

If you, a friend or loved one has been arrested for drug possession, or any other criminal offense, call our offices immediately.