If you visit this blog regularly you know how we feel about the importance of seeking experience defense representation when charged with a federal crime. The stronger opponents and harsher penalties at the federal level make spending a significant chunk of your life in federal prison a real possibility.
However, we think it is important to take a step back and think about the big picture: federal laws are ultimately backed by the force of the federal government and the threat of depriving the convicted of their rights and freedoms. It would seem fair to say that such high stakes should only be in play for offenses that truly threaten the lives and liberty of our fellow citizens.
Unfortunately it seems that the opposite is taking place. Federal laws have reached a saturation point where the vast majority of us have committed a federal crime, likely unknowingly. Specifically, Yale Law professor Stephen Carter estimates that 70% of Americans “have committed a crime that could lead to imprisonment.”
If you ask Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, we have reached a point where “criminal laws have grown so exuberantly and come to cover so much previously innocent conduct that almost anyone can be arrested for something.”
Perhaps the broader conversation on criminal justice reform will result in action to cut back on the scope and complexity of our criminal laws. Until then, it is crucial to make sure you have an attorney with experience navigating the ins and outs of the Federal Rules on Criminal Procedure and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines if you are accused of a federal crime.