Becoming ensnared in a federal criminal case, whether as a target of an investigation, a witness or a defendant, is a life-altering event. Compared to Michigan State cases, the rules are completely different, the laws, the prosecutors – and the potential penalties are greater which even can include death. At the Law Offices of William Swor we have represented clients charged with every sort of federal crime contained in the United States Code and have been practicing in the federal courts all over our country for decades. We have represented targets of federal criminal investigations – including those who have had their homes and offices searched by the FBI – which resulted in no charges being brought. We have represented defendants charged in some of nation’s most notorious federal criminal cases and gotten acquittals, dozens of non-custodial sentences and even gotten some federal cases dismissed either voluntarily by a prosecutor or upon a motion to the court.
Our collective experience is nearly entirely in the area of criminal law. And our experience does not consist entirely of plea bargains; clients hire us to go to trial and to win trials. We are not former federal prosecutors who rush into the United States Attorney’s Office to cooperate a client as soon as we’re hired: instead we are retained to figure out a way to turn a very bad situation into a much better one. And this can be done due to our decades of experience in federal cases which includes exhaustive investigation and trial preparation; with such tenacious advocacy we can oftentimes elicit very favorable plea deals from prosecutors instead of the government risking a trial they may lose. These are not mere words: our record is easily and publicly verifiable.
A federal sentencing is also much different than a state sentence: the United States Sentencing Guidelines is a complex, multi-volume treatise filled with many opportunities for a downward departure or downward variance -- a sentence lower than that which is called for in your plea agreement or estimated by the government upon conviction after trial. We have made countless such motions for downward departures and variances at federal sentencings and won them – and received praise from federal judges for our presentations, one of whom stated on the record that our submission was “a model of an effective sentencing memorandum.” Advocacy at a federal sentencing is an art unto itself and an application of the sentencing factors contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3553 (a) as well as downward departure decisions throughout the federal courts in the country should be thoroughly considered.
We have also represented our clients in parallel related, civil proceedings including actions before the Security and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).
Federal Criminal Investigations
Federal investigators, including those from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and ICE (immigration), to name a few, often invest an incredible amount of time, money, and resources into building a criminal case. The federal government uses a vast array investigative techniques to build their case(s). This includes using:
- data-mining—using government or private (banks and insurance companies, for example) databases to identify financial transactions associated with drug dealing, money laundering, or fraud, e.g., examining billing records for anomalous billing practices, etc.;
- federal grand jury subpoenas to compel the production of documents, i.e., bank records, emails, texts, etc.;
- federal grand jury subpoenas to compel witness testimony;
- search warrants to search and seize evidence of a crime;
- physical surveillance;
- court-authorized electronic surveillance (sometimes called “wiretaps”) of conversations, telephone calls, emails, texts, etc.;
- confidential informants and cooperating witnesses, including jail house informants, to gather information and consensually record conversations/interactions;
- undercover operations;
- promises of immunity or plea bargains to induce the cooperation of witnesses;
- witness/subject interrogations, interviews, and testimony.
The federal government relies on highly-skilled prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce and prosecute federal criminal cases. In addition to being smart and capable trial attorneys, typically, federal prosecutors (more formally known as Assistant United States Attorneys or AUSA’s) also benefit from practicing exclusively in a highly-specialized area of the law: federal criminal law. Federal prosecutors wield an incredible amount of power known as prosecutorial discretion. This means that they can, within the parameters of the law, DOJ policy and their own guidelines, pick and chose what charges to levy and what deals to make with witnesses and the accused. Because Congress has passed some of the harshest criminal laws in the world, federal prosecutors often leverage the threat of long-term incarceration both to force witnesses to cooperate with their investigations and to force the accused to plead guilty rather than face the threat of a potentially longer prison sentence.