Texas Federal Charges + Sentencing, Hearings & Statute of Limitations

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What can you expect if you are arrested for a federal crime in Texas? First of all, you will be informed by the government of the charges being filed against you. After you are informed of the federal charges, you will probably be kept in federal custody in Texas until your preliminary hearing.

About the Preliminary Hearing

In Texas as in other states, your preliminary hearing has to be held within three days of you being arrested. The preliminary hearing is the first chance that you and your lawyer will have to challenge the evidence that the government has against you. The government’s burden at this stage is low; all they need to show is probable cause, rather than reasonable doubt.

Also, witnesses against you can testify regarding hearsay, so in most cases, the federal government will have enough evidence to keep you in custody.. Still, the initial hearing is a good chance for your lawyer to learn about what weaknesses there may be in the federal prosecution’s case.

About the Bond Hearing

A bond hearing in federal court in Texas happens if you are being held on a federal charge and you want to be released as the case is being decided. You usually need to be a legal citizen of the US  to get a bond. And if you have any outstanding warrants, you will probably not be released on bond.

The best way to get bond during this hearing is to have your lawyer call witnesses regarding your character.

Federal Crime Sentences

If a federal crime is committed in Texas, the federal government will likely prosecute you. It also is possible for the state to prosecute you as well. For example, drug trafficking often is prosecuted on both the state and federal levels.

If you are convicted of a federal crime in Texas, the judge will adhere to federal sentencing guidelines. These are rule that federal judges must consider when sentencing you. These guidelines are based upon how serious the crime is, as well as your characteristics and criminal record.

Federal sentencing guidelines are written by the US Sentencing Commission. These guidelines assign most federal crimes to one of 43 offense levels. Each criminal offender is assigned to one of six criminal history classifications, which is based upon your extent of criminal activity in the past.

The point where the level of offense and the criminal history of the person on the Commission’s sentencing table will determine the range of your sentence.

The guidelines will assign one of 43 levels of offense seriousness. The more serious your crime, the higher the level of offense. For instance, first-degree murder has an offense level of 43, which burglary has an offense level of 17.

Texas Federal Crime Rates

There are 94 federal judicial districts, which cover all 50 states. As of 2009, the #1 district in the US for federal crime prosecutions was the Southern District of Texas, which stretches from Brownsville to Laredo. There the US attorney’s office filed charges against 8801 defendants in 2009. That was four times the number of people charged in the Southern District of New York, which includes the Bronx and Manhattan.

The #2 district in the nation for most federal criminal defendants is the Western District of Texas. There were 8435 charges filed here in 2009.

Top Texas Federal Crime Issues

The most common federal crimes committed in Texas are:

  • Immigration crime (human trafficking) – About ⅓ off all people convicted of federal crimes in the US and also in Texas are for immigration crimes.

  • Drug trafficking – After immigration, drug offenses including drug trafficking are the most common. There are 25,000 drug offenders in the federal system at present.

  • Fraud and white collar crime – These are usually racketeering and embezzlement crimes.

  • Gun offenses – About 50% of all federal firearms cases, including those in Texas, are regarding felons who are found carrying guns.

  • Money laundering – This is common in Texas, as there are many organized crime gangs in the state who need to give their money from their crimes the appearance of coming from legal sources.

  • Counterfeiting and forgery – Related to organized crime and gang activity in Texas.

  • Child pornography – As in most states, there is a strong demand for child pornography, particularly given the wide access to broadband Internet.

  • Wire and mail fraud – The use of the US mail system and the Internet and phone systems are commonly used to commit financial crimes in Texas.

  • Tax evasion – As in most states, tax fraud and tax evasion are common federal crimes.

  • Bank robbery – More bank robberies are occurring in Texas as people still struggle to find work and pay their bills.

Recent Crime News TX

Statute of Limitations in TX

Below are statutes of limitations for common crimes in the state of Texas:

  • Assault and battery: 2 years

  • Contract: 4 years

  • False imprisonment: 2 years

  • Libel: 1 year

  • Malpractice: 2 years

  • Personal injury: 2 years

  • Trespass: 2 years

  • Wrongful death: 2 years

  • Arson: 10 years

  • Kidnapping: 5 years

  • Rape: No limit

  • Murder and manslaughter: No limit

  • Robbery: 5 years