Skip to Content

Can I Get Probation If I Am Convicted Of A Federal Crime?

Can you get federal probation when you are accused of a federal crime? Whether you are accused of a State or Federal offense and regardless of whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor your first concern is sometimes that you will go to jail and whether your attorney can get you probation.

Are you Really Charged with a Federal Crime?

The first question you need to ask is whether you are being charged in State court or in Federal court. Many people believe they have been charged with a federal crime when, in fact, they have been charged with a State felony offense. Federal cases, in San Antonio, are filed in the Western District of Texas. You will go to a the Federal Court house and have your hearings there. If you have a felony State case you will go to District Court. Your paper work will say The State of Texas if it is a State case and The United States if it is a Federal case. Regardless sometimes State cases can become Federal cases and Federal cases can be transferred to the State, so it is important to hire lawyers who are licensed in both places. Both Shannon W. Locke and Javier Garcia are Federally licensed criminal defense attorneys who can practice in Federal and State court.

It is very difficult to get probation in federal court. In federal court, you almost always serve your prison sentence, which is followed by a period of supervised release. In state court, probation usually comes first, and a prison sentence will be issued only if the terms of that probation are violated. The federal criminal justice system is overshadowed by the federal sentencing guidelines. The federal sentencing guidelines are a table. At the very top-left of the table are the lightest sentences that you can get, and at the very bottom-right are the worst sentences you can get. The sentencing guidelines include everything from very minor offenses (such as possessing a small quantity of marijuana) to the most serious offenses, such as treason or terrorism against the United States.

A criminal defense attorney’s job while working with that table is to move their client toward less serious offenses. There are various ways to do that. The federal courts have determined that a person is not obligated to receive the sentence that is listed under the federal sentencing guidelines. You can and should still argue for an individualized sentence. A good criminal defense attorney will craft a sentencing memorandum, which will discuss all of the good characteristics you have and everything that the judge doesn’t usually see. This will allow the judge to have a full picture of you and decide whether or not he will make a downward departure. Our job is to get you a downward departure or a variant. When you get a downward departure or a variant, you have explained to the judge why it is that the sentencing guideline should not apply to you. As a result, you should receive a lesser sentence.

I once handled a case that involved a very elderly man who had been accused of a federal offense. I took his age and put an actuarial table in my sentencing guideline and said that most of the people charged with this crime are 30 years old. I made the point that if my client were to receive the same sentence, he would have a 65 percent chance of dying while in custody. I really tried to bring to life the impact that the sentence would have on my specific client, which is one of the goals of criminal defense in federal court.

Do Most Federal Criminal Cases Go To Trial Or Do They Plead Out?

Most federal criminal cases end up in plea agreements. This is because time will be taken off of a sentence as a result of pleading guilty. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on defendants to plead guilty in order to avoid being exposed to the serious sentences that the federal government wants them to serve. We’ve handled cases that went to trial in federal court. It’s important to have an attorney who has trial experience. We have trial experience in state and federal court, and we know how to try these cases.

Will I Serve My Whole Sentence In a Federal Case?

If you receive a federal sentence you will serve very close to your whole sentence in a federal case. The State of Texas, by comparison, has very liberal parole rules. On State sentences incarcerated people can usually expect to be eligible for parole after serving a third or half of their sentence depending on the crime for which they were charged. If you qualify for good time credits, you can usually count eight days for every seven days that you serve, which on lengthier sentences will sometimes cut off significant time. In reality, most people end up serving the vast majority of the sentence that they’re given by the trial court judge. This is why it’s so important to do the sentencing memorandums and ensure that you’ve received an individualized sentence in order to get as much time taken off of your sentence as possible.

Why Do I Need To Hire An Attorney Who Specializes In Handling Federal Cases?

If your attorney is not licensed in federal court, he can’t help you in federal court. If you think you may be prosecuted in federal court, only a federally licensed criminal defense attorney can confirm whether or not that is the case. If your attorney is not federally licensed, he will have to file a special motion to be considered a lawyer in federal court. I have found that state court practitioners often have a hard time with the terminology and with figuring out how to operate in federal court. If an attorney doesn’t have a lot of experience in federal court, the client could end up doing much worse and spending a lot more time in prison.

For more information on Probation For Federal CrimesA Free Strategy Session is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (210) 361-3113 today.