Please Note: Izquerido Law Firm remains open and available to serve you and meet your criminal defense, DUI defense and Federal Crimes attorney needs during the COVID-19 crisis. We can meet with clients, existing or new, in person, over the phone or with your preferred video-chat application. Please call our office at 305-707-7345 to discuss your options.
Get Answers to Common Questions Now
Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.
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What is forgery?
Forgery is the crime of making, altering, using, or possessing false writing in order to commit fraud. There are many types of forgery, from signing someone else’s name on an official document to falsifying a passport or driver’s license. If the forgery involves money or federal documents or is intended to defraud the federal government, then the crime will be charged by federal law enforcement officers.
Proving the Crime of Forgery
In order for the government to make its case for forgery, it will have to prove the following:
The document was legally significant.
Signing someone else’s name to a letter of complaint you send to an individual or business would not constitute forgery because the letter is not a legal document. However, government-issued documents such as passports, military discharge papers, immigration documents, and the like, would be considered legally significant.
The writing is “false.”
Creating a document to look like a standard legal document is an example of false writing, but so is materially altering a legitimate document. For example, deleting, adding, or changing portions of a document that results in a change to the legal rights or obligations represented in the document would be considered forgery.
The document was altered with the intent to defraud.
To be charged with fraud, the defendant must have intended to defraud the federal government with the document. A person who has unknowingly signed or received a forged document should not be charged because they did not intend to commit fraud with it.
A federal criminal defense attorney will examine these elements in order to build the best case for a defendant. The federal crime of forgery carries significant penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and steep fines, so it is important to launch an aggressive defense.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
Am I eligible for the federal pretrial release program?
What is typically known as “getting out on bail” in state criminal cases is often called “pretrial release” in federal cases. Whether you will be granted a release in your federal case will depend on a number of factors. The first and probably most important thing you can do to increase your chances of being released until your trial is to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. When you work with the Izquierdo Law Firm in Miami, you can be sure that we will do everything we can to get you released.
What the Courts Will Consider When Granting a Release
Federal courts are generally in favor of pretrial release, particularly for first-time and nonviolent offenders. In order to have you held in jail until your trial, a federal prosecutor will have the burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence that you:
- Are likely to flee
- Are a danger to the community
- Have a criminal history
- Are most likely guilty, based on the weight of the evidence against you
- Violated probation or parole
In Florida, most defendants in federal drug cases are considered to be a danger to the community and are unlikely to be granted pretrial release. If the prosecutor argues that you should be held in jail, your defense attorney will have to counter the evidence presented at the detention hearing. If he is unsuccessful, you will be held in federal prison until your trial.
Conditions of a Federal Pretrial Release Program
If you are granted a release, it is up to the judge in your case to set the conditions. The terms of your release can include any or all of the following:
- Executing a bond
- Being supervised by a third-party custodian, which could be a family member
- Looking for or retaining a job
- Not traveling outside the local area
- Wearing a GPS monitor
- Submitting to regular drug testing
- Complying with any other conditions the judge imposes
If you violate any of the conditions set for you, your release will be revoked, and you will be sent to prison to await trial.
Hire the Best Federal Defense Attorney You Can Afford
Attorney Danny Izquierdo understands the importance of obtaining a pretrial release and will do all he can to fight for your freedom. It can take months for your trial to be scheduled, and sitting in prison is the worst place you could be while you wait. If you are arrested and charged with a federal crime in the Miami area, contact Danny as soon as possible as for a free case evaluation. He will also explain your chances of getting a pretrial release.
Could I be charged with terrorism for spreading COVID-19?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside down, leaving us with a great deal of uncertainty about so many things. As a criminal defense law firm, we are expecting even more confusion about individuals’ rights, enforcement of executive orders, and prosecution of federal crimes related to the crisis. For example, in a recent memo to federal law enforcement agencies and U.S. attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen said that individuals who intentionally spread the coronavirus could be charged with terrorism. What could this mean to the average American? We take a look.
What Is the Charge?
Apparently, a reaction to white supremacist groups who have encouraged their members who become infected to spread the virus, Rosen said that the “purposeful exposure or infection of others with COVID-19” could be prosecuted under federal terrorism statutes. He further explained that the virus "appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent,’” which is included in the statute’s definition of a weapon of mass destruction.
How Could it Be Applied?
Because the coronavirus is so highly contagious and easily spread, it is not outside the realm of possibility that someone would intentionally and maliciously try to get someone else sick. In fact, several states have already charged individuals with terrorism for deliberately coughing on people and licking packages in a store. While prosecuting these kinds of actions may make sense, where will federal agents draw the line? If a person who knows they have the virus goes to the grocery store, could he be arrested and charged with terrorism? What if a person with the virus touches another person? We simply don’t know yet how “purposeful exposure” will be interpreted by federal law enforcement officers and U.S. attorneys.
What Should You Do If You Are Charged?
If you or a family member is arrested on COVID-19-related federal charges, talk to a federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Federal terrorism convictions carry severe penalties, including long prison sentences and the death penalty. So much is unknown about this virus and how the courts will handle these charges, but one thing is certain—you have a right to be represented by an attorney if you are charged. Izquierdo Law Firm remains open and available to serve you during this time. Call us to arrange a video chat to discuss your case.
What should I do if federal agents come to my Miami home with a search warrant?
An unexpected visit to your Miami home from FBI or DEA agents is not usually a welcome surprise. Whether you were aware of a federal investigation involving you or not, understanding your rights and obligations when agents come to your home or office is key to avoiding more trouble than you may already be in.
Do They Have a Warrant to Search Your Home?
When you answer a knock on the door and find federal agents standing there, the first thing you should do is confirm that they are who they say they are and find out why they are there. You are well within your rights to ask to see identification if it is not offered. Also, ask for a business card—your attorney will need this later. If they do not have a search warrant and are just there to gather information, step outside and close the door. Be calm, polite, and respectful, but do not answer any questions beyond identifying yourself. You have a right to refuse to answer questions without an attorney present, and you would be smart to exercise this right at this time.
If the agents do have a warrant to search your home, you will be obligated to allow them to enter. However, you should take the following steps to protect yourself:
- Read the warrant and understand the parameters. Agents cannot overstep what is covered in the warrant. Does it cover the whole house or just your home office? Does it include computers and other electronic devices?
- Do not interfere with the search or allow family members to interfere or you could be charged with obstruction of justice. Remain calm, keep your hands visible, and do not make sudden movements or leave the room without permission.
- If the agents have an arrest warrant, be cooperative and follow their instructions.
- Ask permission to call your attorney before the search. If they do not grant permission, wait until the search has been completed.
If you do not already have a federal criminal defense attorney representing you, now is the time to find one.
Contact Danny Izquierdo as Soon as Possible If You've Been Presented With A Federal Search Warrant
If you live in the Miami area, contact Izquierdo Law Firm immediately if you have been served with a federal search warrant. You can schedule our free 4-Point Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy Session by calling (305) 707-7345. In this day and age, even innocent people need a strong defense attorney. Do not take chances with your freedom. Call us as soon as possible.
When do I need to hire a lawyer if I’m facing federal charges?
When faced with a federal investigation—or even after they are arrested—people have a lot of reasons for not calling an attorney right away. Often, they are so sure that their innocence is clear, and the charges will be dropped, they think they don’t need an attorney. Sometimes, people think hiring an attorney will make them look guilty. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. The reality is, the earlier in the process you call a federal defense attorney, the better off you will be.
How Do You Know When You Need an Attorney?
As soon as you know—or even suspect—that you are the target of a federal investigation, you should talk to an attorney. Working with a federal defense attorney from the very beginning could save you a world of trouble, including:
Saying Or Doing The Wrong Thing
When you are under investigation for a federal crime, the smart move is to have an attorney speak for you, even if you are completely innocent. Without legal advice, you could say something that hurts your defense without realizing it.
Going To Jail
If you are charged with a violent crime or serious drug offense, you may be denied bond and held in pretrial detention. You do not want to go to a detention hearing without legal representation. In some cases, your defense attorney may be able to get you released on bond.
Giving Up Your Rights
Defendants who are not aware of their legal rights often give them up inadvertently. An experienced federal defense attorney will understand your rights and do everything he can to protect them throughout the criminal process.
When you are facing federal charges—whether it’s a white collar crime or a drug offense—the odds are stacked against you. An investigation and arrest should be taken very seriously. Hiring the best attorney you can afford as soon as possible is the best way to protect your rights and get a shot at a fair trial. If you are facing a criminal charge in federal court, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
How much does it cost to hire a federal criminal defense attorney?
What is the price of freedom? You may be willing to pay anything to avoid federal prison, but you have to be smart about hiring the best federal defense attorney you can afford. We take a look at what you can expect to pay an attorney when you have been charged with a federal criminal offense in Florida.
If You Can’t Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provided for You
You should have been informed of this right at the time of your arrest, but what does it mean? If you meet the income qualifications established by the jurisdiction in which you have been charged, you will get a court-appointed attorney at no charge to you. Federal public defenders are often some of the most qualified attorneys in a district, and will definitely be better than the cheap, inexperienced lawyer your brother-in-law finds for you. If your income does not qualify for free assistance, you will have to shop around for an attorney you can afford. Some factors that will affect the cost of an attorney include the following:
Complexity of the Case
If your attorney hires investigators and experts to support your defense, you can expect to pay more. Likewise, the more time a case takes to resolve, the more expensive it is going to be.
Skill and Experience of the Attorney
In other words, you get what you pay for. However, you can’t assume that just because an attorney is expensive, he is good. You still need to do your research and ask important questions to find the best attorney for you.
Whether the Case Goes to Trial
If your case goes to trial, the attorney and his team will be putting in many additional hours, and you will have to pay for those hours.
The bottom line is, you should hire the best attorney you can afford, and you will have to put in some time to find the right match for you.
We Are Always Up Front About Our Fees
At the Izquierdo Law Firm, we won’t quote a fee until we look at the unique facts and circumstances of your case and determine what stage of the proceedings your case is in. We try to be fair when quoting fees and take into account how much time will be required, given the nature and circumstances of your case.
Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?
What is the difference between a state white collar crime and a federal white collar crime?
The term “white collar crime” applies to a variety of non-violent financial crimes committed by professionals who are often positioned inside the institution from which they are stealing. These crimes include embezzlement, identity theft, money laundering, insider trading, mail and wire fraud, and tax evasion. Investigations into these crimes can be conducted by local or state authorities—resulting in state charges—or by federal authorities such as the FBI—resulting in federal charges. It is important to understand who is charging you because the consequences you face could be dramatically different.
When Does a White Collar Crime Come Under Federal Jurisdiction?
The perpetrator of a white collar crime has often broken both state and federal laws. Whether state or federal prosecutors pursue the charges depends on the specific situation. If the criminal activity takes place in more than one state, the charges will likely come from federal authorities. For example, wire or mail fraud could be charged as a federal crime if the defendant has targeted victims outside of Florida. Investigations into suspected white collar criminal activity can be initiated by either local or state police or by the FBI and could be passed from one authority to the other at any point. A white collar crime that involves a great deal of money or many victims could be upgraded to a federal charge even if it does not cross state lines.
Does it Matter Whether I am Charged in State or Federal Court?
Because the consequences for federal crimes can be much more severe than the consequences for the same crime at the state level, it does matter which court is charging you. In addition, not all criminal defense attorneys take federal cases. If you are being investigated for a white collar crime in Florida, you should be working with an attorney who handles both state and federal cases. When you meet with Attorney Daniel Izquierdo for a free 4-Point Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy Session, he will help you understand the differences between state and federal charges and will be prepared to defend you in either court. If possible, he will fight to keep your charges in state court to avoid harsh federal sentencing requirements.
Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?
What to Expect During Your Initial Appearance in Federal Court?
After you surrender or are arrested by federal law enforcement, you will immediately (usually within 24 hours) be brought before a United States Magistrate Judge for your initial appearance (this may also be referred to as 'first appearance'). You should note that initial appearances occur before a Magistrate Judge and take place the business day after the arrest or surrender. At this hearing the judge will read, explain, or list the offense(s) that you are being charged with. You will be informed of your rights and the judge will ask whether you are able to hire a lawyer to represent you or if you would need a court-appointed lawyer. In order to have a lawyer appointed by the court, you will have to qualify for one based on your responses to the court’s questions and by demonstrating a need given a lack of financial resources to retain counsel.
If you have already hired a federal criminal defense attorney to represent you, they will likely appear on your behalf at the initial appearance and inform the court as to the scope of representation (i.e. whether they’re representing you for the initial appearance and bond purposes or if they are entering a permanent appearance to be your lawyer through the end of the case).
In addition to sorting out that you are the person named on the criminal charging document as well as who your legal counsel will be, the court will then address the issue of bond. At the initial appearance you can either receive a bond and be released (either one set by the Magistrate Judge or as part of an agreement between your lawyer and the government), or the government may ask for pretrial detention. In this case, a detention hearing will usually be set no later than five (5) days from the date of your initial appearance.
If you are here today because you feel frustrated about an upcoming initial appearance in federal court or issues having to do with bond and pretrial release and it is disrupting your life, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?
Target, Subject and Witness, what does it all mean?
One of things of incredible importance when you are under federal criminal investigation is your status in the investigation. The federal government classifies people in three ways: Targets, Witnesses and Subjects.
Let’s talk about the different statuses and what each means for you.
- Target – The status you most have to worry about is that of the ‘target’. This means that the prosecution has its sights set on you as the target of the investigation. If the prosecutor feels as though a crime was committed and you are the person they feel committed the crime, they will work their investigation with the primary objective of being to build a case against you.
- Witness – The witness in a federal investigation typically has very little exposure to facing formal charges. Being a witness is the preferred place to be if you must be enveloped in a federal investigation in the first place. Federal prosecutors may believe that you have information that can help them. You may have seen something take place or you may have documents relating to their case that can help them.
- Subject – This status falls in-between the previously discussed statuses of a witness or target. Being a subject is delicate because, while prosecutors may not be gunning for you, your status as a subject likely means that you may have done something wrong in their eyes.
If you are under federal investigation, it is important to keep in mind that your status during the course of the investigation may change. As the government investigates its case and gathers evidence you can move from a witness to a subject or from a subject to a target, or even move downward from a target to a subject or subject to a witness.
Anyone involved in a federal investigation will be well-served by contacting a federal criminal defense lawyer to help protect their interests. Your lawyer can reach out to the prosecutor and gather information about your status in the investigation and possibly what conduct they are looking into. It is helpful to know, especially at the beginning, how the government has classified you.
Learning where you stand can provide some peace of mind. However, it is important to remember that an investigation is fluid and that your status may change. An attorney may be able to ensure that your status stays where it is if that is favorable to you and can also work with the prosecutor to convince them that you should not be a target or a subject but merely a witness.
If you are here today because you feel frustrated about being caught up in a federal investigation and it is disrupting your life, we should talk.
Have You Been Charged With A Federal Crime?