Local Indianapolis authorities who are investigating a crime will work with state prosecutors to file charges in Marion County’s courts or the courts of the surrounding counties.
However, federal officials in the area also investigate federal drug crimes, weapons crimes and other offenses. They may elect to refer their investigations for prosecution in a state court. However, they may also elect to file federal charges in the Southern District of Indiana.
Federal criminal cases work differently from cases filed in state court.
- Federal investigators, and federal prosecutors, have a reputation for being well trained, knowledgeable, experienced and very determined. They will not hesitate to throw the book at those who are the targets of their investigations.
- Sentencing in federal court can be tough with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, mandatory minimums and other government-friendly provisions. For example, someone who would likely have probation if their case were in a state court might face years in prison in a federal court.
- Likewise, other laws can apply differently from one would expect. It is important to remember that Indiana law and federal law are separate.
- The rules and procedures in federal court are very different. Even an attorney who has experience in state court can feel lost if they do not have federal criminal experience.
Responding to federal charges requires an assertive defense
Federal authorities prosecute a wide range of criminal cases. Many Hoosiers, for example, might associate the federal courts with high-profile cases against business leaders and politicians. The federal courts would also likely prosecute terrorism cases.
Many federal criminal cases involve drug distribution or offenses related to the illegal trafficking or possession of a firearm. Certain types of sex crimes also get prosecuted in federal court.
There are often solid defenses to federal charges, including weapons and drug charges.
It may be appropriate to insist that the government prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, a better option is to try to work out a reasonable plea bargain with federal officials.
An Indianapolis resident facing a federal criminal case should make sure they understand their rights and options.