Federal Charges

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Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Las Vegas

A federal criminal conviction in Nevada can lead to lengthy prison sentences, high fines, and lifelong criminal records. Individuals facing federal criminal charges have two options:

  1. Work with a court-appointed federal criminal defense lawyer; or
  2. Invest in a proven and experienced federal criminal defense lawyer.   

The choice you make will have a direct impact on the outcome of your case.

At The Vegas Lawyers, our legal team includes former federal prosecutors and investigators who understand the federal criminal defense process, what to expect from the prosecution, and how to mount a successful defense strategy.

If you’re currently under investigation or facing federal criminal charges in Las Vegas, don’t gamble your future on a subpar lawyer.  Work with a federal criminal defense team you can trust.  We know how the United States Attorney’s Office works, how the FBI (and other federal agencies) initiate cases and what it takes to win in federal court.   

Contact us today for your free initial consultation. Continue reading for an overview of federal criminal laws, penalties, and more.  The more educated you get about the process, the better position you’ll be in to make educated and informed decisions.

What’s The Difference Between State And Federal Crimes?

Both state and federal criminal laws define criminal activities and penalties. The most significant differences between the two are that federal criminal codes have a narrower focus, federal prosecutors have an unlimited budget, and federal convictions typically lead to much harsher penalties.

There are no federal prisons in Nevada (although there is a federal detention center that holds persons awaiting trial). However, individuals convicted of federal crimes must serve prison time in a federal facility (without the possibility for parole). That means that you could spend a long time outside of Nevada if things don’t go your way in court.

Furthermore, state crimes are investigated by the Nevada Highway Patrol, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), and the like. Federal crimes, on the other hand, are investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, IRS, ATF, Secret Service, and several others.   

It’s important to note that the federal government and Nevada can each charge you for the same crime if the criminal offense violates Nevada and federal law.

What Are The Most Commonly Prosecuted Federal Crimes In Las Vegas?


If two or more individuals conspire to commit an unlawful act against the U.S. or defraud the U.S. government (including agencies), and at least one person takes some type of action to further their objective, they can both face federal conspiracy charges.

That means that you don’t have to be directly involved in a criminal act to be prosecuted for it. Federal criminal laws only require you to participate (in any way), and you can be charged as if you physically committed the act.


Cybercrimes are prosecuted harshly at the federal level. Generally, the federal government prosecutes cybercrime cases committed against the U.S. includes but is not limited to:

  • Hacking into government computers
  • Damaging computers owned by the government, banks, or those affecting interstate commerce
  • Using any government computer (i.e., mobile phone, tablet, desktop, etc.) to commit fraud
  • Unlawfully accessing, using, or distributing sensitive government information
  • Using technology to commit crimes like stalking, extortion, or threatening others
  • Wire fraud

Federal cybercrime can be applied to a broad range of situations, so much so that many activities that initially seem innocent can result in federal cyber-crimes charges.  In Nevada, the United States Department of Justice takes cyber crime seriously and routinely prosecutes persons for crimes related to computers.  Having a team on your side that understands the intricacies of cyber crime is not just important, it’s essential.   

Federal Drug Crimes

Many drug crime investigations begin at the state level but eventually lead to federal charges in Nevada.

The most common types of federal drug crimes prosecuted by the U.S. include drug trafficking, manufacturing controlled substances, aiding and abetting, drug possession in protected locations, and many more.

Individuals convicted of federal drug crimes face harsh penalties. The severity of the punishment depends on the drug schedule, exact charges, the quantity of drugs, and countless other factors.  Being convicted of a drug crime in federal court in Nevada can lead to very severe and harsh penalties.  For this reason, having a skilled lawyer by your side is very important.   

Federal Firearm Offenses

The federal government constantly changes and updates federal gun laws. With that in mind, individuals are often charged with federal firearm offenses without knowing that they violated the law.

Some of the most commonly prosecuted federal gun offenses in Nevada include but are not limited to:

  • Possession of prohibited firearms
  • Possession of firearms by prohibited person
  • Using a firearm while committing a violent crime or drug trafficking
  • Drug-related home invasions using a firearm
  • Gun trafficking, importation, or smuggling
  • Sale of illegal firearms

Individuals can be indicted with several federal gun law charges if they are involved in the sale, purchase, possession, or otherwise unlawful possession of a firearm while crossing state lines.

Federal Fraud Charges In Las Vegas

Individuals facing federal fraud charges often require a federal criminal defense lawyer to represent them in criminal proceedings or qui tam civil actions. The penalties for federal fraud charges include exorbitant fines, lengthy prison time, and restitution payments.

A few of the most commonly prosecuted federal fraud offenses include:

  • Bank and Check Fraud
  • Making false claims to government agencies
  • Participating in a conspiracy to defraud the government

In addition to the criminal penalties, those convicted of federal fraud charges may be required to pay back as much as three times the amount they defrauded.

Human & Sex Trafficking

Federal human trafficking laws involve the unlawful exploitation of people for labor, services, or commercial sex. Sex trafficking laws more specifically target the illegal transportation of people across the border for unlawful sexual purposes.

Individuals charged with federal human tracking offenses face extensive prison sentences. That’s especially true for crimes involving children, vulnerable populations, violence, or drugs.

Federal Money Laundering

The crime of money laundering, otherwise known as “washing money,” involves making resources derived from criminal activity look like they came from legitimate business activities. The “dirty” money is “laundered” (cleaned) to make it more difficult to trace.

Individuals involved in illicit industries or practices like arms trafficking, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, embezzlement, terrorism, and the like are more likely to launder their money than others.

For that reason, money laundering cases are harshly prosecuted at the federal and state levels.

Federal “RICO” Crimes

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) makes it a criminal offense to engage in activities that further criminal enterprise. More specifically, RICO crimes involve racketeering.

Racketeering involves unlawful actions (typically the use or threat of force) perpetrated by an organization to earn a profit. RICO legislation was largely enacted due to overtly aggressive mob and gang activities. Common examples of RICO crimes include but are not limited to:

  • Extortion and blackmail
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Money laundering
  • Counterfeiting
  • Human trafficking
  • Predatory lending
  • Protection rackets (victims must pay money for “protection” or face harm)

RICO activity must be conducted by a group, known as an “enterprise,” such as a drug cartel, motorcycle club, gang, political party, business, or other types of organizations. Individuals charged with federal RICO offenses face both criminal and civil penalties if convicted.

The Federal Criminal Court Process

Generally, the federal criminal court process in Las Vegas is similar to state criminal proceedings. However, there are differences in the investigation process, court procedures, and consequences.

The federal criminal court steps listed below are not exhaustive.

Some federal crimes require more steps. Others require less. Consult with your Las Vegas federal criminal defense lawyer to better understand the steps most relevant to your case.

  1. An investigation by a government agency (i.e., FBI, CIA, DEA), sometimes in conjunction with state agencies
  1. The United States Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, which is part of the United States Department of Justice, files formal charges (usually after obtaining an indictment from a federal grand jury)
  1. Initial hearing before a United States Magistrate Judge in Las Vegas where a criminal complaint or indictment and summary of evidence are presented
  1. The defense and prosecution share information during the discovery phase
  1. The prosecution may offer a plea bargain any time after discovery
  1. Preliminary hearings and pre-trial motions get filed (often by defense attorneys to narrow or dismiss the charges)
  1. Trial and Post-trial motions before a United States District Court Judge in Las Vegas
  1. Sentencing

Understanding The Federal Criminal Appeals Process

If you do not receive a favorable verdict, filing a federal appeal may be the only option you have left. Individuals found guilty of a federal offense have 14-days to file a notice of appeal.

It’s important to note that an appeal is not a re-trial. It is only an opportunity for the appellate court to review potential legal errors committed by the federal district court. The federal appeals process is conducted almost entirely in writing.

For these reasons, it’s recommended that you consult with an experienced federal criminal appeals lawyer before you begin the appeals process.  Your attorney can advise you of your appeal options, potential outcomes, and whether it’s worth your time.

What To Expect At The Federal Courthouse In Las Vegas

The Lloyd D. George, United States Courthouse, is located at 333 Las Vegas Boulevard, South Las Vegas, Nevada.  Its hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

The federal district court in Las Vegas is a massive structure.  So, you should give yourself ample time for metal detector lines, security checkpoints, getting lost, and the amount of time it takes to walk to your destination.

Furthermore, there is no visitor parking available at the building. There is metered street parking (not recommended) and commercial parking lots within walking distance of the courthouse. However, it could easily be a 10-15-minute walk depending on the day, conditions, and other factors.

Can You Be Charged In Nevada State And Federal Court At The Same Time?

Yes. Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, an individual can simultaneously face state and federal charges for the same crime without violation of the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution. While it does not occur all the time or even frequently, it’s certainly possible.

If you’ve violated both state and federal laws, it’s in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with each.

Will I Get Deported If I’m Convicted Of A Federal Crime In Las Vegas?

Technically, you can be deported for any federal crime. Individuals charged with certain misdemeanor crimes are less likely to face deportation.

However, those facing federal felony offenses are at significant risk of deportation. That’s especially true if convicted of an aggravated felony.

Federal crimes that are most likely to trigger deportation proceedings include but are not limited to:

  • Rape and aggravated sexual assault
  • Murder
  • Human trafficking offenses
  • Drug and firearm offenses
  • Treason and espionage
  • Sexual abuse of a child or vulnerable person

Non-citizen immigrants who are convicted of certain felony crimes must complete their prison term before they are deported.

The Key To A Solid Federal Crime Defense Strategy

The most important aspect of a solid defense strategy is the caliber of the lawyer you hire.  A high-quality federal criminal defense attorney spends years amassing hands-on experience defending federal crimes charges.  At The Vegas Lawyers, we are very familiar with the federal rules of criminal procedure and the process in federal court.  The federal judges in Nevada are familiar with our lawyers and we enjoy an excellent reputation in federal court.   

Our experience can help you in the following ways:  

  • We can spot weaknesses in the U.S. attorney’s case
  • We recognize insufficient evidence
  • We uncover mistakes made during the arrest or investigation
  • We negotiate with the prosecution for decreased or dismissed charges
  • We know how to present a strong defense at trial should it be necessary

There are countless defense strategies. The defense that works best for you depends on the charges and overall circumstances of your case. We’re not concerned about what you did.  Our attorneys are concerned about what the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  We defend your rights by defending the Constitution in court.   

Contact The Vegas Lawyers today to discuss your options if you’re facing federal criminal charges in Las Vegas.

Can You Seal a Federal Conviction?

A federal criminal record seal is only possible in the following situations:

  1. A federal judge orders your record sealed (very rarely occurs)
  • DNA record expungement for certain servicemembers with overturned convictions
  • You were convicted for possessing specific illegal drugs
  • You have a federal juvenile criminal record for unlawful drug possession

Other than the situations mentioned above, most federal criminal convictions cannot be sealed. That means that a federal criminal conviction is likely to stay on your record for life.

Charged With A Federal Crime In Las Vegas? Contact Us Today

Federal criminal charges are serious.  They can lead to significant jail time, fines, and loss of certain rights.  It can also tarnish your reputation. This is no time to gamble with your choice of lawyer.  Working with an experienced and proven federal criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas can profoundly impact the outcome of your case.


If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, representing yourself or being underrepresented can be catastrophic. Don’t risk your future when you don’t have to.  Your liberty depends upon making the right choice.

Our highly skilled legal team (which also comprises former federal investigators) will fight to ensure you get the least amount of penalties possible under the circumstances. Contact us through this website or give us a call at (702) 707-7000 for your free initial consultation today.

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