August 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense
It began in January when police were searching for a fourth suspect in connection with a fatal shooting in Wilmington. Three men had already been arrested and charged with murder before Joshua Cordell Lee Williams surrendered to Xenia police.
Law enforcement suspected the men of being involved in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Layne Hall of Blanchester. Mr. Blanchester was discovered around 8:40 p.m. with a fatal gunshot wound in the 1100 block of Brownberry Drive on January 21, 2020.
Federal Murder Charges Filed Against Williams
The Department of Justice announced at the end of July that Williams had been charged with federal crimes related to the fatal shooting in January. Williams faces charges of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance and firearms-related murder. This arrest is the first federal murder case in Cincinnati.
According to documents filed with the court, Williams intended to sell marijuana to four individuals. The individuals intended to take the marijuana without paying Williams.
The individuals entered a struggle. Williams, who had a firearm, fatally shot the victim in the chest during the struggle. If convicted on the charges, Williams faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
Federal Charges vs. State Charges
As noted above, this is the federal murder charge in Cincinnati. Most arrests made in the city are under the Ohio Revised Code, which is state law.
State law enforcement agencies conduct investigations of arrests under state law. State courts try the case, and sentences are based on state laws.
Federal agencies investigate and handle federal crimes. One or more federal agencies might be involved in the investigation, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Federal courts hear cases involving charges brought by federal agencies. Federal sentencing guidelines for convictions can be more severe.
Several factors result in a crime coming under federal jurisdiction:
- The crime violated the United States Code of Laws
- The criminal activity occurred in more than one state
- The crime involved an organized crime syndicate or racketeering
- Federal agencies investigated the crime and made the arrest
- The crime involved a violation of the Controlled Substances Act
- The activity involved the sexual exploitation of children or sex trafficking
- The crime took place on federal land
- A federal employee was involved in the crime
State and federal laws can overlap. The decision to move a case from state to federal court can be complicated. However, the question of whether to hire a criminal defense attorney is simple – you need an attorney if you are facing federal criminal charges.
Are You a Target of an Investigation or a Witness?
Federal law enforcement agents often investigate potential crimes for many months. Unlike many state law enforcement agencies, federal agencies have much larger budgets. They also have access to a wealth of resources that may not be available to state agencies.
During the investigation, agents may interview targets and witnesses. In either case, you need to be very careful what you say to a federal agent. Most of the mistakes people make who are targets or potential targets of a federal investigation are made early in the process before they talk with a federal criminal defense lawyer.
Federal agents, just like state law enforcement officers, can lie to you. However, federal agents are more effective because they have extensive training in interrogation skills. Direct interaction with a federal agent is rarely to your advantage.
Lying to a federal agent or making false statements can lead to an additional criminal charge separate from any other charges. You can spend a significant amount of time in prison for providing false information or lying to federal agents. For that reason, answering any questions during an investigation without an attorney can be dangerous.
Even though you might be a witness in the investigation and not the target, it is still wise to have a federal defense attorney present whenever you talk to federal agents. An experienced attorney understands federal laws and the process used by agencies when investigating potential crimes.
An attorney advises you of your Fifth Amendment rights and legal options during a federal investigation. Understanding your legal rights and having an attorney handle the communications with federal agencies can help prevent you from giving the agents additional evidence to make their case.
Get Help From Someone Who Understands Federal Law
If you have been arrested, it is essential you hire a federal crimes attorney immediately.
An attorney understands federal rules of civil procedure, evidence, sentencing guidelines, and federal court procedures. Make sure that you hire an attorney with federal court experience. There are vast differences between the state and federal judicial systems.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202