Federal Crimes

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced federal crimes lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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federal crimes lawyer ohio criminal defense lawyer joslyn lawColumbus Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Near You

As one of Ohio’s premier law firms, Joslyn Law Firm is uniquely qualified and prepared to handle all aspects of your federal criminal defense. From the moment you are notified that you are the subject of a federal investigation, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm will work diligently on your behalf to obtain the best possible results.

When you’re facing federal criminal charges, you may have no idea what comes next or where to turn. Your rights, freedom, and future are at stake. After all, federal crimes like drug crimes, sex offenses, white-collar crimes, and firearms cases can lead to long prison sentences, serious fines, and a felony conviction on your record.

The government agencies, including the FBI, DEA, and ATF, conduct thorough and in-depth investigations. The agents are sophisticated and specially trained to build a federal case against you. It is highly advisable to have an attorney with the skills and experience to stand up to the federal investigators and prosecutors in your case.

You don’t have to take on your case alone. Joslyn Law Firm strongly defends individuals facing federal criminal charges, including federal sex crimes charges, federal drug charges, federal weapons or firearm charges, and federal white-collar charges. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience defending people against crimes like these.

If you hire a Columbus federal criminal defense attorney near you, you can rest assured we’re investigating, negotiating, and litigating on your behalf—all to try to get your charges reduced or dropped and keep you out of jail.

We Can Bring 10 Years of Experience With Criminal Law to Your Case

People from all walks of life—white-collar professionals, college students, and celebrities alike—turn to our attorneys when they face federal criminal charges.

We are nationally recognized and locally respected throughout Ohio and the U.S. Our principal attorney, Brian Joslyn, has been recognized by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers as one of the 10 Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Ohio. He has also been ranked by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Rising Star amongst Ohio criminal defense lawyers.

Joslyn Law Firm represents clients throughout Ohio, including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. Contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 to schedule a confidential review of your case. Don’t wait to learn how you can build a defense and protect your rights.

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Columbus Federal Crimes Information Center

Federal Crimes

A federal crime is any violation of criminal laws or statutes developed by the United States Congress. It is possible for a particular offense to a violation of both federal and state law. The decision to prosecute a criminal offense as a federal crime is at the discretion of the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). The USDOJ may decide to prosecute the offense or refer the case to the state.

Federal crimes can be divided into the following categories:

  • Federal Sex Crimes– Sexually motivated crimes and crimes involving children are treated especially seriously by federal agencies. Common federal sex offenses include the following offenses:
    • Child pornography,
    • Sex trafficking,
    • Aggravated sexual abuse, and
    • Sexual abuse of a minor or ward.
  • Federal Drug Crimes-Many drug offenses may also be investigated and prosecuted as federal crimes. Common federal drug crimes include the following offenses:
    • Drug trafficking,
    • Drug importation, and
    • Drug exportation.
  • Federal White Collar Crimes– Generally, when an individual thinks of white collar crimes he or she thinks of federal white collar crimes. Common federal white collar crimes include the following offenses:
    • Insider trading,
    • Securities fraud,
    • Computer or internet fraud,
    • Tax evasion, or
    • Credit card fraud.
  • Federal Weapons Crimes– Due to the high number of violent crimes in the United States each year, the federal government has cracked down on the enforcement of firearm and weapon statutes. Common federal firearm and weapons offenses include the following:
    • Possession of a prohibited firearm,
    • Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and
    • Commercial robbery.

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Difference Between Federal Crimes and State Crimes

The determination of whether a crime is considered a federal or state offense depends on the type of statute or law violated. A federal crime occurs when an individual violates a federal law or a statute created by the U.S. Congress. A state crime occurs when the individual violates a state law. At times criminal conduct may be a violation of both state and federal statute.

Federal crimes are handled in United States Federal Courts. In Ohio there are three federal courts—United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Not all attorneys are authorized to handle cases before a federal court. For an attorney to appear before a federal court, he or she must first satisfy certain requirements and be admitted in that particular court.

Federal crimes often carry higher criminal penalties than state crimes. For example, in Ohio an individual charged with possession of child pornography under state law may be convicted of a fourth degree felony, which is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment. On the other hand, an individual charged with transporting child pornography across state lines faces fines and a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison.

Due to the severe penalties imposed under federal law, it is imperative to consult an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as you learn a federal investigation has commenced.

Who Investigates Federal Crimes

The federal government has established federal agencies to investigate and prosecute specific federal crimes like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation-The FBI is the federal agency responsible for the investigation and enforcement of U.S. criminal laws. The FBI investigates white collar crime, cybercrime, human trafficking, violent crime, and major theft.
  • Drug Enforcement Agency– The DEA is the federal agency specifically tasked with the enforcement of controlled substance laws and regulations in the U.S. The DEA investigates federal drug trafficking and federal drug importation and exportation.
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATG) is the law enforcement agency which investigates illegal use and trafficking of firearms, illegal use and storage of explosions, acts of arson, and acts of terrorism.

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Investigation into Federal Crimes

The investigative process with federal crimes differs substantially from state crimes. With state crimes an individual usually reports the criminal act after the criminal conduct occurs, after witnessing the criminal activity, or after receiving information that a criminal act occurred.

The witness or victim of the offense then reports the crime to law enforcement. Law enforcement will investigate the validity of the report. Should law enforcement determine a crime occurred and obtain enough evidence to execute an arrest criminal charges are filed and a suspect is pursued and/or arrested.

Federal investigations are conducted by highly skilled, specialized government agencies, including the FBI, ATF, or DEA. These agencies are comprised with officers or agents with specialized knowledge and training in the investigation of specific federal offenses. For example, ATF agents exclusively investigate federal firearm offenses or DEA agents exclusively handle federal drug crimes.

Federal agencies also have increased funding and resources to investigate crimes. As a result the investigations can last from several months to years. An individual under federal investigation will usually be unaware until the appropriate agency has obtained enough evidence to bring criminal charges.

Federal criminal investigations are generally commenced in one of two ways:

  • The appropriate agency receives credible information from one or multiple persons that criminal activity has occurred; or
  • The appropriate agency performs a sting operation or an operation designed to catch an individual committing a criminal offense.

It is important to understand federal investigators are highly trained and sophisticated. Upon notifying an individual that he or she is under federal investigation, the officer or agent will advise the individual to consult an attorney immediately. An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer will skillfully communicate with federal agencies and navigate all the formalities in a federal criminal case.

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Penalties in Federal Criminal Cases

Federal crimes can come with serious penalties, and a conviction can prove life-changing. Of course, every case involves unique factors.

Generally, the more severe the crime and the more severe the aggravated charges involved, the more significant the penalties. For example, you may see a longer prison sentence for possession of a controlled substance if you carried above a certain quantity and you were also caught driving a stolen vehicle at the time.

Those with a criminal record could also see harsher sentencing and have a more challenging time negotiating their charges and penalties. However, our attorneys can work hard to seek the best possible outcome in your case. Take a look at these common penalties for federal criminal cases:

Federal Drug Crimes

Depending on your specific charges, the type of drug, the amount involved, and any aggravating charges, you could see anywhere from one year to 40 years in prison for a federal drug crime, according to the USDOJ.

Simple possession of a controlled substance can lead to a misdemeanor charge and a one-year maximum incarceration sentence. However, possession with the intent to distribute can lead to a felony and a maximum of 40 years in prison, depending on the type of drug and the quantity involved. Often, federal drug crimes are categorized as felonies.

Federal Sex Crimes

Federal sex crimes can range from sex abuse to child pornography offenses. This wide range of possible crimes entails an equally wide range of possible penalties.

For instance, sex abuse offenses can come with 10-, 15-, or 20-year minimum mandatory sentences. A child pornography conviction may have anywhere from a 5- to 40-year sentence, depending on the previous convictions of the offender and other details of the case, per the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).

Federal White-Collar Crimes

Again, white-collar crimes range substantially. From wire fraud to embezzlement, your potential penalties depend on your charges, the amount of money involved in a theft or other transaction, the number of victims involved, and other details of the case.
For example, a conviction for embezzlement could entail a maximum of 20 years in prison. The number of years you may serve could also depend on the amount of financial hardship involved for the victims, among many other sentencing criteria, according to the USSC.

Federal Weapons Crimes

If you face charges for federal weapons crimes, you could receive a felony conviction and a mandatory minimum prison sentence, among other penalties.

As with other federal crimes, having a history of prior criminal offenses can lengthen your prison sentence. Other factors involved in sentencing include the type of weapon involved, how it was used, whether any aggravated charges were involved, and any harm to potential victims.

For example, you could face not less than seven years in prison for brandishing a firearm and no fewer than 30 years if the firearm in question was a machine gun, according to the Congressional Research Service. Offenders received just over 12 years of prison time on average in 2016.

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Common Defenses to Federal Crimes Charges

Again: Being charged with a crime doesn’t mean you’re automatically convicted of that crime. You could still build a solid defense that can cast doubt on the prosecution’s claims or argue that you did not commit the crime as charged. That’s where our attorneys come in.

We have years of experience defending people in federal criminal cases like yours. We will first take a look at the evidence in the case and learn your story. Then, we can map out a tailored legal strategy for your unique situation. In other words, we can build a defense around the weak areas in the case against you or highlight the facts supporting your innocence.

Our attorneys can argue that:

Your Rights Were Violated

No matter what you did, you still have rights under state and federal law. These include your right to a reasonable search, your Miranda rights, and many other rights related to the processing of evidence and trial by jury.
So, our lawyers can scrutinize whether your case aligns with these laws—or if you faced illegal violations of your rights. If we can show that the police didn’t follow proper procedure during your arrest or your property was illegally searched, for instance, we can argue against your charges on this basis.

Self Defense or Defense of Others

In certain situations, such as when someone violently attacks you or your property, you may have a right to defend yourself or others. We can show that you did not initiate an assault or another violent crime but simply reacted to another’s provocation.


Let’s say you were outside a bar, and someone started showing you attention. You took an interest in them, and when they offered to sell you drugs, you spontaneously purchased them. You soon find out this was an undercover officer, and you’re under arrest. If you probably wouldn’t have bought drugs in any other situation, we could argue that this was entrapment.

You Were Innocent

If you know you were completely innocent, we can work to help you prove it.
For example, let’s say that you were caught with drugs in your car. The police pulled you over for another reason, and after legally searching your vehicle, they found a substantial amount of narcotics in your glove box. If this wasn’t your vehicle or someone planted the drugs in your car without your knowledge, we can build evidence to show your innocence.

Statutory Defenses

The prosecution must show that you were guilty of a crime as described under federal law. However, federal criminal charges have specific definitions. If we can show that your case falls outside of the definition of the law, we can use a statutory defense.

Other Defenses

Our Columbus federal criminal defense lawyers use many other defenses in criminal cases, including:

  • Battered spouse’s syndrome, if you have an abusive partner
  • Insanity
  • Duress
  • Double jeopardy
  • Alibi

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Evidence We Can Use in Your Federal Criminal Case

In any criminal case, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to prove that you committed the crime. In fact, they must have so much evidence that they show you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

That’s a substantial burden of proof. Our job as your criminal defense attorney is to review all the evidence in the case against you. We can analyze weak areas in the case and gather our own evidence to demonstrate your innocence, refute the prosecution’s claims, or otherwise defend you against the charges.

To that end, we can review and gather evidence from sources such as:

  • The police report
  • Past criminal history (yours or another party’s)
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Cell phone recordings or images
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Testimony from people you know, such as friends, family, and coworkers
  • Expert witness testimony, such as when we need evidence of the accused’s mental state, your own mental state, or other matters
  • Communication from text messages, phone calls, and internet messages
  • Medical records
  • GPS data
  • Physical evidence, including weapons, broken items at the scene, or other evidence

However, the prosecution cannot use just any evidence to convict you. The evidence must be legally gathered and presented appropriately during discovery and at trial.

Our defense lawyers know how to hold prosecutors to these legal standards and will fight for your rights. We can file motions to dismiss certain evidence from trial if your constitutional rights are violated.


Ohio District Court Information

United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio– The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The federal court has offices in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.

Columbus Court Location:
Office of the Clerk
Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse
Room 121
85 Marconi Boulevard
Columbus, Ohio 43215

United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio– The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The federal court has offices in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown.

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Federal Crime Resources for the Accused

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) ǀ Federal Mandatory Minimums– Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a nonprofit organization that fights for smart state and federal sentencing laws that protect public safety. Access the link to a chart which lists all federal sentencing laws that require the judge to give an offender a mandatory minimum prison term. The chart includes law in effect as of August 6, 2012.

United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) ǀ Criminal Division-The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) is responsible for the enforcement and prosecution of federal crimes. To better develop strategies, the DOJ divides the criminal division into several specialized divisions, including child exploitation and obscenity section, computer crime and intellectual property section, fraud section, human rights and special prosecution section, and more.

United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) ǀ Overview of Federal Criminal Cases– The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) is an independent agency within the judicial branch of the federal government that is dedicated to the reduction of sentencing disparities and promotion of transparency and proportionality in sentencing.

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Federal Crime Victim Resources

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ǀ Victim Assistance Programs– The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides resources for victims of federal crimes, including a case notification system, educational material regarding rights of federal crime victims, and printable brochures and handouts.

Office for Victims of Crime ǀ Ohio Resources– The Office of Victims of Crime provides resources for victims of federal crimes, including compensation benefits, month web forums, and publications.

United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) ǀ Restitution Process for Victims of Federal Crimes– The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), which is responsible for the enforcement and prosecution of federal crimes, developed an educational pamphlet outlining the restitution process for victims of federal crimes.

OhioHealth Sexual Assault Response Network–The organization offers emotional support and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault in Franklin County and Central Ohio.

Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN)—This state-level organization fights for the elimination of domestic violence in our communities, helps train authorities on domestic violence issues, and advocates for policy changes. They also offer many resources for survivors of domestic violence, including safety planning strategies and education on domestic abuse.

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Ohio Federal Crimes Cases

United States of America v. Scott A. Bailey

A United States District judge denied a motion for compassionate release in the case of defendant Scott A. Bailey. In 2003, Bailey pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine along with conspiring to launder money. This led to a 210-month prison sentence and a 15-year supervised release to follow.

However, Bailey was arrested for drug crimes roughly one year following his release in 2016. He was charged with possession of marijuana, trafficking marijuana, and drug paraphernalia and later pleaded guilty to those charges. He then received a sentence of three years in prison and a concurrent five years in custody as a penalty for violating his release terms.

After being diagnosed and treated for stage four follicular lymphoma, Bailey sought a motion for early release, claiming that he no longer poses a community risk. However, his treatment records at the time of the motion indicated that his prognosis had improved, and his scans appeared “all good.”

The District Court for the Northern District of Ohio denied this petition for early release, primarily on the grounds of Bailey’s repeat drug offenses, violation of his release terms, and the short remaining time in his sentence.

United States of America v. Paul Musaelyants

In a federal crimes case involving health care fraud, a United States District judge denied a defendant’s petition for a writ of error. The defendant, Paul Musaelyants, immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a refugee from Azerbaijan, and he was later granted permanent residency.

In 2004, Musaelyants was investigated for health care fraud and pleaded guilty to his charges after a public defender assured him that his plea would not affect his residency status. He was then sentenced to six months of home confinement, paid $30,000 in restitution, and then entered judgment.

The following year, he was summoned to appear before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a removal hearing related to an aggravated felony, a fraud conviction with a loss of over $10,000. Musaelyants says that his lawyers, following conviction, didn’t advise him of his right to appeal, and he waived his right to appeal.

In 2020, a DHS officer informed him that he would be removed from the U.S. as a result of his conviction. Subsequently, the defendant sought a writ of error to remove his original guilty plea. The court denied this petition, however, as the defendant knew of his potential for deportation as of 2006 at the latest, among many other reasons.

Columbus, Ohio, Federal Crimes News

July 5, 2022

11 Arrested as Part of Narcotics Distribution Ring Bringing Bulk Amounts of Fentanyl, Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine into Central Ohio

Eight men and three women were indicted by a federal grand jury for federal drug crimes. The offenders face 12 charges, including distributing cocaine, fentanyl, and crack cocaine in bulk amounts across the region of Central Ohio.
Other charges in the case include dealing drugs in close proximity to a school and conspiracy to distribute. Nine of the 11 individuals indicted in the case reside in Columbus, and authorities indicate that the crimes took place over a two-year period within 1,000 feet of Burroughs Elementary School in Columbus.
The offenders could face between 10 years to life in prison for these charges.

June 29, 2022

10 Charged With Distributing Bulk Amounts of Fentanyl, Heroin, Cocaine, Meth, Marijuana

In another major arrest of drug crime suspects, police seized over 210 pounds of narcotics as part of a national distribution operation funneling dangerous drugs from Los Angeles to Columbus. The seizure included over 100,000 pills, four vehicles, seven firearms, and half a million dollars in cash. That came to about $4.5 million in fentanyl and fentanyl pills, in addition to nine kilograms each of cocaine and marijuana, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, and heroin.

Eight of the ten individuals arrested were Ohio residents.

FAQs in Columbus Federal Criminal Defense Cases

You don’t have to be in the dark about your legal options and your rights. If you have questions in your federal criminal case, we have answers.

Q. How Do I Understand What My Charges Mean?

A. The criminal justice system is complicated, and understanding what to expect after an arrest can seem daunting. However, our attorneys can help you make sense of your charges, understand your next best steps, and help you navigate the entire legal process.
Every federal crime comes with unique sentencing guidelines. These guidelines can also be complicated. Our lawyers can tell you more about possible prison time, fines, and other penalties associated with a conviction.
Your charges are not a conviction. That means that police have enough evidence to charge you, but the prosecution must still show evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you were guilty of the crime as charged. So, being charged with a crime means that you must proceed with the court’s demands for hearings and trial dates. However, your lawyer can defend you and work to get the best outcome possible.

Q. Can I Get My Charges Dropped?

A. It’s possible that you can see your charges dropped. However, we can’t guarantee a particular outcome. Also, your ability to seek reduced or dropped charges (or lower penalties) is related to several factors, including:

  • The seriousness of the crime
  • Whether you have a past criminal record
  • Whether you face multiple charges
  • How many victims were involved
  • Any injuries, physical or financial, to those victims

Q. Should I Work With a Lawyer for My Case?

A. We think it’s a good idea to work with a lawyer when you’re facing criminal charges. Federal crimes are taken especially seriously by the courts. When you have a lawyer by your side, you can ensure that you are doing everything possible to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

Q. Should I Take a Plea Bargain in a Criminal Case?

A. With a plea bargain, you would plead no contest or guilty to your charges, and in exchange, you can see certain benefits from the prosecutor. For instance, you could see reduced penalties, like lower fines and a probation order instead of jail time. An attorney from our team can walk you through the pros and cons of taking a plea bargain.

Q. What’s the Difference Between a State and Federal Crime?

A. When you receive charges for a federal crime, the prosecutor alleges that you violated federal law. Similarly, getting charged with a state-level crime means that you violated Ohio law. While state and federal law may have some similarities, the sentencing guidelines for these crimes are different. Generally speaking, federal crimes tend to come with harsher penalties.

A lawyer from Joslyn Law Firm can tell you more about what to expect when you get charged with a federal crime.

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Joslyn Law Firm ǀ Franklin County Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

Federal crime investigations and charges are especially serious. It is imperative to hire competent, experienced legal counsel as soon as you are aware of a federal investigation. In building a federal case against you, the government employs its best FBI, DEA, or ATF agents. When building your defense, it is important to have an attorney qualified to go up against these actors and mount the strongest defense possible.

The trial proven, federal criminal defense attorneys Joslyn Law Firm are uniquely qualified to achieve the best results possible in your case. Contact them today at (614) 444-1900 or submit an online form to schedule a confidential review of your case.

The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm represent individuals facing criminal charges throughout Franklin County, including Columbus, Hilliard, Grove City, Worthington, Upper Arlington, and surrounding areas.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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