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Federal Charges

Most criminal matters in Des Moines are under Iowa law and are heard in state courts. However, the federal government also has criminal statutes. Many pertain to alleged crimes that cross state borders. Others involve acts that the federal government has no apparent reason to intervene in, but Congress has passed laws on, anyway.

Federal charges are heard in federal court, and your lawyer must be licensed by that court. A conviction may result in time in federal prison — which, despite what you may have heard, is not a “country club.” Even minimum-security federal prison involves a complete loss of liberty.

Des Moines Federal Charges Lawyer

With a Des Moines federal charges lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., you are getting more than four decades of combined experience, including many times before the federal courts in Iowa. Our criminal defense attorneys have an extensive understanding of federal criminal law and procedures that comes from years of advocating for clients accused of federal crimes. We can put that experience to work for you. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.

Our attorneys are licensed in both the Northern District and the Southern District in Iowa and can represent those accused of federal crimes anywhere in the state. We are based in West Des Moines and frequently represent clients in the Des Moines area, including anywhere in Polk County or Dallas County, and all over the state of Iowa.

Iowa Federal Charges Information Center

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Federal Courts in Iowa

The Constitution grants the federal government the jurisdiction to craft laws about certain matters, especially regulating matters that transpire over state borders. The Tenth Amendment, in the Bill of Rights, gives states the power to regulate all other matters.

Both the federal government and the state have legislative bodies to make laws. The federal government has U.S. Congress, and Iowa has the Iowa Legislature. Both bodies have the power to make criminal laws and punishments and hear them through the judicial processes in those governments.

The federal government’s jurisdiction is apparent on matters like certain fraud cases that cross state borders, utilize federal systems or seek to defraud federal agencies or programs. However, in the eyes of many, the federal government has far exceeded its jurisdiction in many matters, including regulating what substances a person may possess with the Controlled Substances Act.

You may also face federal charges if accused of doing something illegal on the premises of a federal facility, such as a prison or a social security office. For example, you may face federal weapons charges if accused of trying to take a gun into a federal prison.

To practice before a federal court, the lawyer representing you must be licensed to practice there. While the prosecution’s burden of proving all elements beyond a reasonable doubt is the same in state and federal court, procedures and rules differ. The Des Moines criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. are licensed in all federal courts.

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Federal Drug Charges for Iowa Courts

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act made even the possession of certain substances illegal, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, is tasked with prosecuting this law, but any federal law enforcement agency, including the FBI, may be involved with drug investigations.

Possession and small-time drug dealers are usually arrested and charged under state law, but the federal government does have the power to pursue even the smallest charges, and if caught by a federal agent in a federal facility with a small amount of marijuana, you may face those charges.

However, the federal government tends to be particularly interested in trafficking, or the manufacture/cultivation, transportation, and sale of large quantities of narcotics, targeting those accused of being involved with cartels and large-scale organizations.

Trafficking charges have mandatory minimum sentences and million-dollar fines. You could spend the rest of your life in prison if convicted of certain trafficking offenses.

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Federal Fraud Cases Against Des Moines Residents

Whenever an alleged fraud crosses state boundaries, uses a federal system like the Postal Service, or attempts to defraud the federal government through tax evasion or by bilking a federal program like Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, charges may be pursued by a federal prosecutor.

Fraud charges like wire and mail fraud can be levied against anyone who uses the mail system, a private carrier like UPS or FedEx, telephones, email, or internet commerce sites, like eBay and Craigslist, in an alleged attempt the defraud. This can even include if the victim and accused lives down the street from each other in Des Moines.

Medicare and Medicaid are massive federal programs that pay out significant amounts of money to doctors and healthcare providers, and significant fraud accusations can arise. Additionally, if you are accused of significantly, intentionally underreporting your income, you could face federal charges for tax evasion.

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Racketeering Charges Under RICO

“Racketeering” is a term used to mean organized crime. The Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) targets organizations that the federal government is accusing of criminal activity. This could mean gangs, the Mafia, cartels, and similar organizations, but also any group of people accused of a criminal scheme.

Racketeering charges may be pursued when prosecutors believe they can prove a pattern of racketeering behavior. This behavior can be one of many predicate offenses that fall under state law, including trafficking and gambling.

A conviction could lead to up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine per count.

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Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking in Polk County

It is illegal, under federal law, to assist in bringing people into the country to have them work for no wages, wages that are lower than legally allowed, or have them work to pay off the expenses incurred in transporting them. If you are accused of participating in this, including if your business is employing people working under those conditions, you may face human trafficking charges.

The federal government is particularly aggressive in punishing people accused of bringing people into the country to work as sex workers or prostitutes, especially if they are under 18. This is called sex trafficking, and some federal officials proclaim it to be the worst crime imaginable, meaning they will be extra tough. You should consider having an attorney on your side that will match their aggression.

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Smuggling and Trafficking Goods Into Central Iowa

The federal government is in charge of everything that comes in and out of the United States, and everything must go through customs. Some things require special permission and fees or are entirely illegal under U.S. laws and treaties. The act of subverting customs to bring these goods in and out is called smuggling or trafficking.

Smuggled goods can include endangered animals, products from endangered animals, like ivory, bulk cash, weapons, and explosives.

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Iowa Federal Court Resources

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa: This is the court where federal charges in the district including Des Moines are heard.

U.S. District Courthouse
123 E. Walnut St.
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 284-6248

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McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. | Iowa Federal Offenses Attorney

Federal charges can be a whole different ballgame. If accused, a Des Moines federal charges lawyer with the right experience can make the difference between liberty and federal prison. At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., you will find that criminal defense attorney. We are licensed in both federal district courts in Iowa and have represented many clients there. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to schedule a consultation.