Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Northern District of Texas
Defense of federal prosecution is complicated, with arcane sentencing guidelines, strictly enforced deadlines, and requiring more labor-intensive written pleadings than state court. These criminal cases require additional expertise and years of experience on the part of an attorney. Anyone charged with a federal crime should engage a Fort Worth based attorney with federal defense experience with the complicated rules and practices. Unfortunately, few lawyers have the necessary experience. Cody Cofer is a former Assistant Public Defender for the Northern District of Texas and is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Northern District of Texas
Fort Worth and Dallas federal courts are part of the Northern District of Texas. Every district court has specific practices and personalities to contend with. Within those districts, each “division” has idiosyncrasies. Finally, within those divisions, each judge has their own rules, practices, and preferences. You are well served to find a criminal defense attorney that has experience and success in these specific courts.
Unlike State Cases
The vast majority federal cases are the result of long, intensive investigations. The most common exceptions are Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Illegal Reentry by an Alien. Whereas state cases usually only span an investigation lasting a few hours or maybe a couple of days, federal prosecution can be the result of investigations that result from years of investigative work. When fighting a case against the federal government, an experienced defense attorney is critical.
You also do not have as many rights in federal court as compared to state court. For instance, Texas law requires very specific rules related post-arrest statements to police, these may include mandatory recording or specific written warnings. Federal law merely requires a barebones adherence to U.S. Constitutional protections. Even these requirements have exceptions in federal prosecution.
Sentencing in federal court is drastically different than Texas state court. The most important difference is, in federal court you do not have the right for a jury to decide the sentence if you are convicted. Whether a person is convicted upon a plea of guilty or by a jury, the judge decides the sentence in federal cases. This is why the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are so important, and your federal lawyer’s experience with the Guidelines is a critical factor.
Criminal Trial Attorneys
Few attorneys practice federal criminal defense. Even fewer have experience actually trying a case to a jury in federal court. Cases may not go to trial for several reasons. One, it may be in a person’s best interest to plead guilty and have their lawyer advocate for the best possible sentence. Another reason, a federal lawyer may pressure their client to plead guilty, because the lawyer is unsure of their ability to try a federal case. Cody Cofer is a seasoned trial attorney and has tried cases before the toughest federal district court judges. We will provide our best advice on how you should proceed in your case, but you will not be pressured to plead guilty.
Cody Cofer, Federal Criminal Defense Attorney, Fort Worth, Texas
Cody Cofer is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a former Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Texas. Throughout his career, he has amassed a terrific amount of trial experience, and he has defended hundreds of clients in federal court. Call to schedule a consultation, today.
With respect to the sentencing process itself, the Sentencing Reform Act (in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)) sets forth seven factors that a judge must consider at all sentencing.
- the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
- the need for the sentence imposed to reflect the four primary purposes of sentencing (i.e., retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation);
- the kinds of sentences available (e.g., whether probation is prohibited or a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is required by the law);
- the sentencing range established through application of the Sentencing Guidelines and the types of sentences available under the guidelines;
- any relevant “policy statements” promulgated by the United State Sentencing Commission;
- the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
- the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.
United States Sentencing Guidelines
The vast majority of cases result in a plea of “Guilty.” The sentence is decided by the judge, and the judge must consider the Federal Sentencing Guidelines when determining the sentence to impose. This process is complex and requires great effort and attention to detail.
As of the end of 2018, over 1.8 million defendants have been sentenced under the Guidelines. There are tens of thousands of federal appeals involving the Guidelines and nearly three dozen Supreme Court decisions concerning the Guidelines. It is no exaggeration to say that the Guidelines are a central feature of the federal criminal justice system.
Federal criminal defense attorney, Cody Cofer, having vast federal defense experience in Fort Worth, has navigated the Sentencing Guidelines in hundreds of cases. He stays abreast of changes in the Guidelines, appellate decisions impacting the application of the Guidelines, and local court practices related to sentencing. He is equipped to provide the best representation before a sentencing judge.
The Sentencing Guidelines are supposed to accomplish three objectives:
- Address all of the important variations that commonly may be expected in criminal cases, and that reliably break cases into their relevant components and assures consistent and fair results;
- Prohibit or limit consideration of several personal characteristics of defendants regarding sentencing; and
- Significantly limit the breadth of the individual sentencing ranges within the guidelines’ sentencing table such that “the maximum of the range . . . shall not exceed the minimum of the range by more than the greater of 25 percent or six months” (commonly referred to as the “25 percent rule”).
These Guideline limitations were created for the primary purpose of providing “certainty and fairness in meeting the purposes of sentencing, [while] avoiding unwarranted disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar criminal conduct . . . .” However, in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in United States v. Booker that the Sentencing Guidelines are advisory only. This means, that although the judge must consider the Guidelines, that the judge is free to impose a sentence below, above, or within the range. This is done by way of a “departure” or “variance.” In additional to litigating Guideline objections, your federal criminal defense lawyer needs to strategically determine whether you should fight to get a variance or departure.
If you are the target of a federal investigation or prosecution, here you can contact Fort Worth Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Cody Cofer. CALL TODAY AT 682-777-3336.