Federal Charges

The U.S. Code has a wide range of criminal offenses, passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. These charges may include matters pertaining to drugs, fraud, money laundering, trafficking, child pornography and more. Charges are heard in federal court.

The entities enforcing these laws typically have many more resources than a local Palm Beach County prosecutor or law enforcement agency would have. They often include complex matters. Your defense attorney must be licensed in the district, and should understand federal procedure and rules of evidence.

West Palm Beach Federal Defense Lawyer

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., our attorneys are both licensed and experienced in the U.S. District of Southern Florida, which includes federal courts in West Palm Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. We are prepared to defend you if you face charges of violating any laws in the United States Code.

Rather than a public defender, you can have a West Palm Beach federal defense lawyer from Meltzer & Bell, P.A. who will be dedicated to you, instead of the massive caseloads these defenders often face. You will have access to one of our partners 24/7 and a team of experienced attorneys, who will work zealously on your behalf.  Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a free consultation.

We can represent anyone facing criminal charges in the Southern District of Florida, including at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in West Palm Beach, the U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale or any federal court in Miami.


Federal Criminal Law Information Center


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State Law Vs. Federal Law in Florida

Most criminal charges in the Palm Beach area are for violations of state law. Local police or the Florida Highway Patrol arrest the person, and he or she is tried in state court by the county's State Attorney. If convicted, he or she goes to state jail or faces penalties under Florida law.

Alleged violations of the U.S. Code are typically investigated by agents of the U.S. government. These may include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Arrests for violations of federal law may occur at an airport or other facility managed by the U.S. government.

Charges are tried in federal court. Courthouses are located in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District will prosecute. The prosecution has the weight and the resources of the U.S. government behind it, usually far, far exceeding those of state attorneys in Florida.


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Types of Charges Under U.S. Code

Most offenses can be found in Title 18 of U.S. Code, though there are crimes throughout the federal statutes. Generally, criminal accusations may occur in U.S. District Court if the alleged offense took place across state or international borders.

Some common ones include:

  • Drug charges, especially trafficking;
  • Fraud, especially mail fraud, wire fraud, Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud and bank fraud;
  • Money laundering;
  • Racketeering/Violations of the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act;
  • Weapons trafficking;
  • Bulk cash trafficking;
  • Trafficking in endangered animals or endangered animal products;
  • Child pornography charges
  • Conspiracy

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Penalties for Federal Convictions in Florida’s Southern District

If convicted, you face time in federal prison. There are many myths about prisons run by the U.S. government. Many people think it is a "country club." Nothing could be further from the truth. At best, your liberty and privacy will be completely stripped from you.  It can also be a dangerous place, populated by high-level criminals.

Many charges in the U.S. Code, including drug trafficking, have mandatory minimum sentences, with long prison terms. For instance, being convicted of possessing more than five kilograms of cocaine will result in a prison sentence of at least 10 years behind bars.

The U.S. government can also seize assets it proves were used in the crime. People convicted can lose millions to asset forfeiture.


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Substantial Assistance in U.S. Attorney Prosecution

Under § 5K1.1 of the Federal Sentencing Manual, the U.S. Attorney may offer a downward departure from sentencing guidelines to a person who offered “substantial assistance” to an investigation or prosecution. It is possible to strike a deal with prosecutors to give a lesser sentence by giving certain information.

It is critical to be well-advised when entering any such agreement with the U.S. Attorney. If the prosecution falls through or the information turns out not to be helpful, you may have gone record with evidence against yourself and lose the chance for a lesser sentence.

Consult a criminal defense attorney before striking any deals with prosecutors.


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Federal Courthouses in South Florida

U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida: The Southern District covers Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, with five courthouses in the region:

Paul G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
701 Clematis Street Room 202
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 803-3400

U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
299 East Broward Boulevard #108
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 769-5400

Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse
400 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33128
(305) 523-5100

C. Clyde Atkins United States Courthouse
301 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33128
(305) 523-5100

James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building
99 N.E. Fourth Street
Miami, FL 33132
(305) 523-5100

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Building a Strong Defense in South Florida Federal Courts

Federal charges call for a strong, well-prepared defense. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we are a skilled team that can fight for your rights. You can have an experienced West Palm Beach federal defense lawyer fighting for you in the U.S. Court in the Southern District of Florida, whether in West Palm Beach, Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a free consultation.

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