Federal & White Collar Criminal Defense

Most people's experience in the criminal justice system is in the state courts throughout the country. A much smaller percentage of criminal cases are charged in the federal courts throughout the country. What is not widely known, is the dramatically different treatment of criminal cases in the federal system compared to the states' systems.

Many of the cases involve so-called "white collar" defendants because the charges may involve federal procurement fraud, public corruption, bribery, contract fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and numerous other matters where professionals, government officials and workers, and federal contractors are charged with crimes. ("White Collar" defendants of course are also charged with many state crimes). Many of the more commonly known crimes are also prosecuted in federal court, for example, drug crimes, gun possession, murder, even drunk driving, among many other traditionally state crimes.

Federal criminal practice is considerably more complex than in state criminal practice. Federal prosecutors take on a limited number of cases, investigate them with the assistance of the F.B.I., D.E.A., A.T.F., I.R.S., Postal Inspectors, Customs Inspectors and other federal investigators, and apply federal laws to the cases, rather than state laws. Many cases can be prosecuted in either federal court or state court, or both. Federal sentencing is guided by a very complex system of congressionally mandated sentencing guidelines, which results in penalties widely considered much more severe, and downright harsh, compared with sentences handed down in state courts. There is generally no parole or early release from incarceration with a federal sentence, and one generally must serve 85 % of the time imposed by the federal court.

Also, federal prosecutors usually do not provide "open-file discovery", unlike many state prosecutors' offices, whereby the defense can obtain a list of all potential witnesses, including their names and addresses, their complete police statements, as well as all police reports, the investigators' file notes, and evidence reports, in short, a complete copy of the detective's and prosecutor's files, which is often available in state prosecutions. Consequently, there is a much greater need for extensive work by private defense investigators in federal cases, than in state cases. Also, unlike the situation with state prosecutions, virtually every federal pleading or motion filed must be tailored to the case, authoritatively researched, and backed with case law and exhibits. An attorney cannot file so-called "omnibus" motions in federal court, which are boilerplate and cover the field of all conceivable suppression and discovery issues.

These factors conspire to make handling a federal case considerably more time-consuming and difficult for the client and the lawyer. Fortunately, attorney James N. Papirmeister has been through this process many times in his career in the United States District Courts in Maryland and District of Columbia. Mr. Papirmeister has achieved some excellent results for clients in the handling of federal drug charges, as well as charges involving government contracting and procurement fraud, corruption, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, embezzlement, bank robbery, and even drunk driving on federal property, among other types of cases.