What’s The Difference Between State And Federal Charges?

federal crimes

Each state has its own set of unique criminal laws, and in many cases, federal prosecutors prefer to let states handle their own criminal matters. However, under some particular circumstances, the federal government steps in to charge defendants at the federal level. Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, defend clients who have been charged in state and federal courts, and they understand the key differences between state and federal prosecutions.

State And Federal Laws

Even though state governments and federal governments have their own sets of laws, those laws often overlap, meaning that some crimes can be charged at both the state and federal levels. Typically, state prosecutors will prosecute those who have violated Texas laws unless federal prosecutors step in and file charges in federal court. As discussed below, the penalties for federal convictions are almost always more severe than state-level convictions.

Some facts and circumstances make it more likely that crimes will be charged at the federal level. Criminal activity that takes place across state lines is usually charged as a federal crime. For example, crimes that impact interstate commerce, such as moving goods or services across state lines, will likely be charged as a federal crime. Additionally, crimes that involve federal property or institutions, such as banks and government agencies, and international crimes are typically charged at the federal level.

Consequences For Federal Versus State Convictions

As mentioned above, the consequences for federal convictions are generally more severe than the consequences for state convictions. Although Texas has a reputation for being tough on crime, federal sentencing guidelines usually provide for harsher penalties than for the same offense charged at a state level.

Additionally, if you are convicted in federal court, you may serve your sentence at a federal prison. Federal prisons are high-security facilities, and they are often located farther away than local state prisons, making visitation more difficult for family members and friends. As a result, federal prisoners may feel more isolated than those serving time at a state prison.

Federal And State Prosecutions

When crimes are charged at the federal level, everyone involved works for the federal government, including prosecutors, judges, and investigators. Federal courts are separate from state courts, and federal courts have different procedural rules and requirements as well. Attorneys will implement different defense strategies based on whether their client’s cases are pursued in federal or state courts.

Federal Charges Defense Attorney

Only attorneys who have the experience and knowledge to defend federal charges should represent clients in federal cases. Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that there are major differences between federal and state prosecutions and not all Texas criminal defense attorneys are prepared to represent clients in federal matters.

If you are facing federal or state criminal charges, contact us at 713-229-9992 or reach our office here to schedule a free consultation. Follow our Facebook page to learn more about state and federal criminal law.

Different Types Of Federal Theft Crimes

federal theft crimes

Theft crimes involve taking property that belongs to someone else with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Theft can be charged at the state or federal level, depending on specific facts and circumstances. In general, theft crimes that involve government or public property, crossing state lines with stolen property, or theft that impacts interstate commerce, can be charged as federal crimes.

Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC know that all criminal theft charges are serious, but the consequences are typically more severe for theft crimes charged at the federal level than for those charged at the state level. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of federal theft crimes.

Impacting Interstate Commerce Or Crossing State Lines

Interstate commerce involves the buying, selling, or moving of products, services, or money across one or more state borders. Theft crimes that impact interstate commerce are often investigated by federal agencies and prosecuted at the federal level. The federal government also prosecutes thefts that involve moving stolen goods across one or more state borders.

Government Property And Programs

Theft or misuse of government or public property can be charged as a federal crime. Bank employees and other people that are in a position of safekeeping public money will likely face federal prosecution for misappropriating those funds for financial gain. Theft from employee benefits plans and embezzlement related to healthcare also violates federal law.

Theft of U.S. money or property or theft of property from a U.S. government agency will also result in federal charges. Many government agencies offer grant and loan programs for businesses and individuals. Individuals and corporate representatives can be criminally charged for fraud in the application process and misuse of government funds from government programs.

Theft In Maritime Or Jurisdictional Territories

In some cases, theft crimes that occur beyond the United States’ territorial confines can be federally prosecuted. It is a federal crime to take or attempt to take someone else’s money or property in special maritime and territorial jurisdictions of the United States. Knowingly receiving stolen property in specified extraterritorial jurisdictions is also a violation of federal law.

Defenses To Theft Allegations

You may be facing federal theft crimes charges, but that does not mean that you will necessarily be convicted, especially when you have a valid defense to the allegations. Common defenses raised to theft allegations include mistaken identity, you did not intend to steal the property, and you committed the crime under duress. Under some circumstances of police misconduct, you may also raise a constitutional violation defense.

Federal Theft Crimes Attorney

Theft convictions can lead to significant consequences, and defendants should not try to defend these charges without an attorney, especially when facing federal charges. If you are facing federal theft crimes charges, an attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help. Contact our office at 713-229-9992 or online to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our firm and areas of practice.

Federal Crimes: Different Ways You Can Be Charged With Drug Trafficking

drug trafficking

Drug cases are severe cases in the United States. The government takes a strict stance on them, and in most cases, prosecutes them very aggressively. Many states have harsh drug laws. Depending on the amount of drugs, where the person was, and how many others are involved, a drug case can become a federal matter.

Although all drug-related cases are serious, a federal case is more complicated than a typical state court case. If investigated for a drug charge, it is critical to seek legal advice. Obtaining counsel is even more vital if you are facing federal drug charges.

Things To Know About Federal Crimes

Federal cases are complex. It is essential to have an attorney when dealing with such matters. The process is often long and most likely began before a defendant is even aware. Cases can be somewhat complicated and include many factors. A defense attorney can help guide a defendant in understanding the process as well as preparing a defense.

Federal Investigations

In conducting a federal investigation, the government will use all resources that it has available to it, including all federal agencies and the endless supply of accessible tactics. These tactics include but are not limited to wiretapping, video surveillance, record pulling, subpoenas, and more.

Mandatory Sentencing

In Federal court cases, sentencing will be determined based on several factors. These factors include sentencing guidelines, possible prior convictions, and evidence presented. Federal crimes carry mandatory sentencing.

Federal Drug Trafficking And Distribution

Unbeknownst to many, what may seem like a regular drug possession charge may end up being a case of sale, import, and transport of a controlled substance.

Whether a charge is a state law charge or a federal charge depends on several things. The Controlled Substance Act outlines the class of drugs that is part of the crime by putting them in a particular schedule. This schedule classifies the type of drug based on its abuse potential and severity. This classification is one of the determining factors for sentencing.

The government can also make a federal drug trafficking case depending on the number of drugs found. These amounts will determine the level of sentencing and fine.

The amount of drugs in one’s possession may also lead the government to believe that there was intent to sell. The amount of controlled substance found can be the difference between a trafficking charge as opposed to possession.

In addition to the amount of drug, a federal trafficking case occurs if there is any movement of said substance over state or international lines or the number of people involved in the drug case. All of these factors can lead to stiffer penalties and fines.

What To Do If You Are Being Investigated For Drug Trafficking

If you find yourself a subject of a federal crime, including drug trafficking, it is essential to get legal assistance right away. The federal government has top attorneys working on building a case against you. It is critical to know how to prepare and proceed. The attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have years of experience as former prosecutors and are here to help. Contact them today for a consultation. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for more federal and Texas law information.

The Top Most Common Federal Crimes

federal crimes

Federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC know that federal charges are different than state charges, and it takes specialized knowledge and experience to defend clients in federal court. Theft, weapons charges, armed robbery, possession of a controlled substance, internet crimes, and white-collar crimes are some of the most common federal criminal charges that our clients face.


Theft charges involve taking someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Typically, federal theft charges involve stolen property that has been transported across state lines or otherwise involves more than one state during the commission of the crime. Theft may also be charged at the federal level when text messaging, or email is used to commit a crime involving stolen goods.


Violating federal weapon laws and regulations can result in federal weapons charges. Federal agencies often get involved when firearms and other weapons are illegally possessed, distributed, or transported across state lines.

Smuggling weapons or ammunition across the national border or state lines often results in federal firearms trafficking charges. These charges are also common when a weapon is used during the commission of a crime or when a person with prior felony convictions is in possession of a firearm.

Armed Robbery

Robbery is similar to theft charges in that it involves taking someone else’s property with the intent to steal the property. Theft can be charged as the more serious crime of robbery when it involves the use of violence or threat of violence to accomplish the theft. Armed robbery is committed when a firearm or other type of weapon is used during the commission of the crime.

Possession Of A Controlled Substance

A controlled substance is a drug that the federal government regulates. It is not always illegal to possess a controlled substance. For example, if you have a valid prescription of a controlled substance, possessing it is not a crime. However, if you do not have a valid prescription, you can be charged with possession. Possession is a serious federal crime, but it is generally not as severe as selling or distributing a controlled substance.

Internet Crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the lead federal agency that investigates cybercrimes, also known as internet crimes. Common types of internet crimes involve ransomware, phishing, spoofing, identity theft, online predators, business email compromise, and other crimes that involve internet use. In an effort to crackdown on criminal activity online, penalties for federal internet crime convictions are severe.

White-Collar Crimes

Federal white-collar crimes are typically non-violent crimes that involve criminal activity motivated by financial gain. Perpetrators are often professional employees with access to business and personal assets. Health care fraud, internet crimes, money laundering, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, and credit card fraud are examples of white-collar crimes.

Federal Crimes Attorney

If you are facing federal charges, an experienced attorney will help protect your rights and defend the allegations against you. Contact a federal crimes attorney with Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 or here to discuss your case and potential defense strategies. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our law firm and the types of cases we handle.

How A Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Can Help You – Part 2

federal crimes

Federal laws are separate and distinct from state laws. When federal laws are allegedly violated, defendants often find themselves faced with federal criminal charges. If you have been charged with a federal crime, attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that you need an attorney who has experience defending clients in federal prosecutions.

In part 1, we discussed six different types of federal crimes. In part 2, we will go over seven additional crimes and how a criminal defense attorney can help you defend your federal charges. The consequences for federal convictions can be life-altering, which is why you should only entrust your case to an attorney with specialized knowledge of federal laws.

Drug/Narcotics Trafficking & Distribution

Drug and narcotics trafficking and distribution charges are more serious than a possession charge. Trafficking and distribution are often charged as a federal crime, especially when there is a large amount of drugs and evidence that the drugs were moved across state lines.

Federal prosecutors are often overzealous with drug charges. Even if you are charged with trafficking and distribution, prosecutors may not have the evidence they need to secure a conviction. Your attorney will help review the evidence against you, examine how that evidence was collected, and help you build a defense to challenge the prosecution’s allegations.

Money Laundering

There are various types of money laundering schemes. All of those schemes involve obtaining illegal funds and attempting to make it appear as though the funds came from a legitimate source. For example, ‘laundering’ money derived from drug trafficking to make it look as though the money came from a legitimate business, such as restaurant profits.

Money laundering schemes are often complex operations, and sometimes innocent people are used to further a money laundering operation without their knowledge. Lack of intent, lack of knowledge, and the funds were illegally obtained are common defenses to money laundering charges that your attorney may raise.

Federal Conspiracy Charges

Federal conspiracy charges involve an agreement between two or more people to commit a federal crime or defraud the United States. Additionally, you can only be convicted if one co-conspirator takes an overt act in the commission of the conspiracy. Federal crimes attorneys know the requirements for a conspiracy conviction, and they will closely examine the facts of your case to help determine your best defense strategies.

White Collar Crimes

Federal criminal defense attorneys have access to the resources and experts necessary to defend white collar crime charges. White collar crimes such as money laundering, corporate fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and embezzlement typically involve complex financial and legal matters. Because of this, only an experienced attorney with sophisticated resources should defend these cases.


Kidnapping convictions can often be avoided if you have a viable defense and an attorney who aggressively advocates for your rights. Kidnapping cases are often the result of misunderstandings and miscommunications. Frequently raised defenses to federal kidnapping charges include that you had no knowledge or intent to abduct the alleged victim or that you are the parent of the alleged victim and you were attempting to assume lawful control of your child.

Federal Theft Crimes

Theft crimes involve taking or using someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property permanently. Shoplifting, automobile theft, money laundering, and embezzlement are crimes that can be charged at the federal level under certain circumstances. Criminal defense attorneys know the elements required to prove theft crimes, and they will go over the evidence against you and discuss your potential defenses.

Illegal Re-entry

Illegal re-entry is an immigration crime that may result in prison time, removal, and a ban on returning to the United States. Illegal re-entry charges are generally based on allegations that the defendant was previously removed from the United States and was caught in the United States or attempting to enter the U.S.

Defendants in immigration cases are often at a disadvantage, especially if they do not have an attorney representing their interests. There are often language barriers and a lack of due process for the accused. An attorney will make sure that your rights are protected and your case is heard before any judgments are made.

Texas Federal Crimes Attorney

Texas federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, represent clients in all types of federal prosecution matters. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at 713-229-9992 or here to send us a message.

We know that a federal conviction can lead to serious and lifelong consequences. Our attorneys will stand up to federal prosecutors and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our law firm and the cases we handle.

How A Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Can Help You – Part 1

federal crimes

Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have more than 30 years of combined experience handling federal crimes cases. We know that federal government cases are different than Texas state court cases, and we are not afraid to stand up to federal prosecutors.

Federal crimes are governed by federal laws and sentencing guidelines. See below for part 1 of how a Houston federal crimes attorney can help you defend your charges and your constitutional rights in federal prosecution matters.

Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Under the Controlled Substances Act, drugs regulated by the federal government are divided into schedules based on certain factors, such as medical use, the potential for abuse, and the risk to public health. Possession of a controlled substance is not always a crime, however. The possession of some scheduled drugs is legal with a valid prescription for legitimate medical use.

If you have been charged with possessing, manufacturing, or distributing a controlled substance, an attorney can help by examining police conduct and the evidence collected. If your rights were violated with an illegal search and seizure or another type of misconduct, your attorney might seek to have the evidence thrown out and your charges dismissed.

Federal Bank Robbery Crimes

Bank robbery is a felony crime, and charges are usually brought at the federal level. Sentencing for bank robbery convictions is based on the federal sentencing guidelines depending on the value of the property taken, whether or not a weapon was used during the robbery and other factors.

Sentencing for bank robbery convictions can be up to 25 years or more under some circumstances. Bank robbery charges do not have to result in convictions, however, especially when you have an experienced attorney to help you negotiate with prosecutors and build a solid defense.

Immigration Fraud

Immigration fraud, such as identity and benefit fraud, can result in prison time, removal proceedings, and other consequences. If you have been charged with an immigration fraud crime, you need a federal crimes attorney to make sure that your rights are protected during your legal proceedings.

Defendants accused of immigration crimes are often victims of unfair bias and language barriers. An attorney will help you understand the charges against you, ensure that you have access to interpretation services, and stand up to federal agents and prosecutors who have accused you of fraud and other immigration crimes.

RICO Crimes

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (‘RICO’) is broadly stated and interpreted to cover a wide range of criminal activity. Criminal conduct such as bankruptcy fraud, human trafficking, money laundering, and embezzlement that can be considered RICO crimes carry enhanced penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, steep fines, and forfeiture of assets.

Attorneys can not only help defend the charges against you, but they can help protect your assets and your freedom. They can also negotiate plea deals, including cooperation with federal agents and prosecutors for reduced or dismissed charges.

Federal Weapons Charges

U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms, but there are restrictions and requirements for possessing and carrying weapons. If you violate federal weapons laws, your right to bear arms may be in jeopardy.

Weapons charges often involve allegations of possession of an illegal weapon or the illegal use, possession, or dealing of a weapon. Federal crimes attorneys know conceal, carry, and possession laws. They can help you defend your weapons charges and fight to protect your right to bear arms.

Internet Crimes

There has been a steady increase in internet crimes over the last several decades, and these crimes pose threats to individuals, businesses, and government entities. As the severity of crimes and threats have increased, the federal government has stepped up efforts to prosecute these crimes.

Unfortunately, prosecutors and law enforcement officers sometimes overreact to conduct that they see as illegal or threatening, and innocent actors are charged with internet crimes that they did not intend to commit. Criminal defense attorneys with internet crime experience are familiar with overzealous prosecution, and they know how to gather exculpatory evidence and defend their accused clients.

Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Here To Help

If you or a loved one is facing federal charges in Texas, contact us online or at 713-229-9992 to discuss your case. Houston federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, understand the severity of federal crimes convictions. They will aggressively advocate for the best possible outcome in your federal criminal matter.

Follow our Facebook page to learn more about federal prosecutions and how our attorneys can help with your case.

What You Need To Know If Facing Federal Weapons Charges

federal weapons charges

If you have been charged with a federal weapons charge, you probably know that you are facing severe consequences if convicted. Houston criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC represent clients in state and federal weapons violation cases, and they know that prosecutors take these cases seriously.

Federal laws cover the possession, use, distribution, and sale of weapons, and you can be charged with a crime for violating any of these laws. Keep reading for things you should know if you are facing federal weapons charges.

Sentencing Is Steep For Federal Weapons Convictions

Sentencing and fines depend on your particular case facts, such as the nature of the offense and whether or not you used the weapon during the commission of a separate crime. For example, if you used an illegal firearm while engaging in drug trafficking, you would face steeper penalties than you would if your only crime was unlawful possession of a weapon.

You will also be looking at a more severe punishment if you have a prior conviction. Weapons charges with prior convictions can add decades to your sentence, and in some cases, these charges can lead to life sentences.

You May Be Charged Even If You Didn’t Know You Were Breaking The Law

Federal weapons laws are broad, and you can break the law without realizing it. For example, you may have a lawful conceal and carry permit, but you might not know that weapons are prohibited in federal buildings, and if you enter a federal building with a prohibited weapon, you can be charged with a federal crime.

Other common violations involve airplane travel with weapons. You are permitted under some circumstances to travel by plane with weapons, but you must strictly comply with the transportation laws, such as packing your weapons in your checked luggage and declaring those weapons that you have packed.

Sentencing And Fines Are Not The Only Consequences For Weapons Convictions

If you are convicted of a weapons crime, you may experience collateral consequences in addition to sentencing and fines. Weapons convictions may impact your right to vote and possess firearms. You will also have a criminal record, which could damage your job status, job prospects, and housing rental opportunities.

Weapons convictions may also impact your eligibility for public housing and public assistance. Other potential consequences include denied college applications and immigration status problems. In some cases, weapons convictions can result in professional license suspension or revocation.

Federal Weapons Charges Do Not Automatically Mean Convictions

Facing federal weapons charges is a scary prospect, but you should not assume that you will be convicted of your charges, even if you think the prosecutors have the evidence they need to secure a conviction. There are many potential defenses to weapons charges, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will aggressively defend your case.

Your attorney will examine all of the facts and evidence to determine the best legal strategies for your defense. Common defenses and strategies include the following:

  • Plea bargaining – Prosecutors generally prefer to settle cases instead of going to trial, and they are often willing to negotiate with the defense. Plea bargains may involve pleading guilty to lesser charges. In some cases, prosecutors may be more lenient if you agree to testify against another defendant.
  • Constitutional violations – Evidence that was gathered in violation of your constitutional rights cannot be used in court. Constitutional violations frequently involve illegal search and seizure, illegal interrogation tactics, and failure to read Miranda warnings.
  • Dismissal of charges – Your attorney may ask the court to dismiss the charges if there is not enough evidence to convict you. This often happens when prosecutors have a weak case to begin with or when evidence is thrown out for constitutional violations.
  • Plead not guilty – You and your attorney may decide to go to trial if prosecutors are not willing to compromise to agreeable plea terms, and you have a solid defense to present to a jury.

Contact A Federal Weapons Charges Attorney

If you are facing federal weapons charges, contact the attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 or online to schedule a consultation. When you have been charged with a serious crime that comes with severe consequences, you need an attorney who has experience defending clients in federal court. We will go over your case facts, examine the evidence against you, including how it was collected, and determine the best defense path to pursue in your case.

Follow our Facebook page to learn more about our law firm and the legal services that we provide.

Theft Crimes That Can Land You With Federal Crime Charges

theft crimes

Theft crimes include robbery, burglary, extortion, money laundering, and acts involving unlawful taking or using a property that belongs to another person to deprive the rightful owner of it. Most people take theft with frivolity but it could have a detrimental effect on them.

Factors that determine the type of theft crime committed depend on the (financial or economic) value of the property stolen and circumstances around the case, which forms the basis of classification into petty or grand theft.

Different Types Of Theft Crimes

Out of the different criminal offenses in Houston, theft crimes are one of the most common types. Often, they carry severe punishment and could affect your future dreams and aspirations.

Here are the various types of theft crimes that fall under federal crime:


Shoplifting involves taking items from a shop or store without paying for them, which is very common among kids. However, there are cases reported foradults as well. The consequences of shoplifting are serious and can be harsh for high dollar value goods.

You will be charged for shoplifting if you steal goods at a store or intentionally changethe price tag at a store to pay a different price. As mentioned above, shoplifting penalties are harsh when the stolen goods’ dollar value is high, or the person has a past criminal record.


There are different forms of robbery cases considered in the court. Hence, the punishment for a case of robbery varies based on the amount of money stolen.

Class C Misdemeanor is levied against a person who stole property less than $100 while a person who stole above $200,000 is charged for a 1st-degree felony. Being charged for a felony could result in a jail term or prison.

On the other hand, using a gun, knife, or another weapon during a theft is termed armed robbery and has a stiffer punishment than a robbery.


Cash skimming is one of the most common forms of embezzlement. Typical examples of embezzlement is a bank teller who pockets deposits, the storekeeper who takes customers refunds, and the payroll clerk who does not deposit the correct amount of employment tax due to personal gain.

If you misappropriate assets (money or property) entrusted to your care, a charge of embezzlement can be filed against you. Embezzlement comes under white-collar theft or theft and property crime cases. The value of the property or money which is taken determines the punishment to be meted out. It can be punished as petty or grand theft.

Money Laundering

Money laundering generally refers to the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money or investments through an outside party or body.

When the property involved in a financial transaction comes from the proceeds of some form of illegal activity that conceals or disguises the nature, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of specified illegal activity, such would be considered money laundering.


Burglary does not require the use of threat, physical violence, or firearm, unlike robbery. There are two forms in which burglary occurs. One is to break into a building unlawfully to commit a felony while the other is to commit a felony (e.g., after work hours) while inside an enclosed building such as a place of work to steal, though permission was granted lawfully to be inside.

For example, let us say that you work at a clothing store, if you decide to take a piece of clothing from the store after looking around, that may be considered petty theft.

Auto Theft

Auto theft is also referred to as car theft. Auto theft is when a person takes another’s car without the intention of returning it later. Also, using a car without the owner’s permission or awareness, even when you have the intention to return it, is considered auto theft.

Another form of auto theft is when a person fails to return a rental car. The serious version of auto theft is when you take a car from the owner by force, threat, or physical violence.

Theft Crimes In Houston

If charged with any of the above theft crimes or fraud cases, you need the services of competent defense attorneys who have experience taking on the federal government to give you proper advice, protect your rights and fiercely pursue your case to secure the best outcome.

Contact us at713-229-9992 or online to schedule a consultation. Follow us on our Facebook page for more information about our law firm.

How Can A Houston Defense Attorney Help With Federal Crime Charges?

federal crime charges

If you are being investigated or have been charged with a federal crime, attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that your best defense is a skilled federal crime charges attorney. Many criminal defense attorneys regularly practice at the state level but have limited, if any, experience at the federal level. When you are looking for a federal crime attorney, the first question you should ask is how many federal cases they have handled.

Federal sentencing guidelines provide significant penalties for federal offenses. Sentencing and fines are often much more severe when crimes are tried at the federal level compared to state-level sentencing. Federal crime attorneys know what you are up against in federal court, and they know how to handle different types of charges. Keep reading to learn more about common federal criminal charges.

Immigration Fraud And Illegal Reentry

Immigration fraud and illegal reentry are federal crimes related to immigration offenses. Both crimes can come with serious consequences, including prison, fines, and deportation. Immigration fraud is typically associated with marriage fraud, fraud in immigration paperwork, or fraudulent immigration services. Illegal reentry occurs when an immigrant is caught in the United States or attempting to enter the U.S. after being previously deported.

As mentioned above, both of these crimes have serious consequences, but an attorney can help you work through your defense and challenge the immigration charges. Your argument against fraud may simply be that you did not commit fraud. For example, if you are accused of marriage fraud, your defense might be that your marriage was genuine. If you were charged with illegal reentry, your defense might be that a prior deportation was invalid.

White-Collar Crimes

White-collar crime is typically understood to be crimes that are committed for one’s financial gain. Federal laws are very tough on white-collar criminals, and even a conviction on one charge can significantly alter the rest of your life.

When it comes to white-collar crimes, your best defense is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you have not been charged, but you believe you are being investigated for a white-collar crime, an attorney can help. Your attorney will go over the facts of your case, discuss potential defenses, and preemptively meet with federal agents and prosecutors if it benefits your case.

Common types of white-collar crime charges include the following:

  • Conspiracy
  • Corporate fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Bankruptcy fraud

Weapons Charges

Federal weapons charges typically involve crimes with firearms, such as illegal possession of a firearm, fraudulently obtaining a firearm permit, and firearms trafficking. Additionally, the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime will often upgrade your charge to a ‘violent’ crime.

Sentencing for weapons charges generally results in enhancements, which increase the severity of conviction punishments. For example, if your gun has been illegally altered, it was used in the commission of a drug crime, the gun was reported stolen, or the serial number has been removed, you will likely see sentencing enhancements.

Internet Crimes

There is a wide range of internet crimes, and the one commonality is that crimes committed are related to the use of the internet. Internet crimes frequently involve fraud, where the prosecution alleges that the defendant secured financial gains through an online scam. Common internet scams include credit card fraud, phishing, spoofing, identity theft, and data breach.

A good defense attorney understands internet crime law and knows that these cases can be difficult to prove when the defendant has a solid defense. For example, if others have access to the computer used to commit the crimes, it may be difficult to pin the blame on you. Other defenses may include that your computer was stolen and used by someone else, you did not intend to commit a crime, or that you followed someone else’s instructions without knowing that you were furthering another person’s crime.

Houston Federal Crime Charges Attorney

We know that federal crime charges and investigations can be alarming, but charges do not have to become convictions when you have a good defense and a skilled attorney. Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC have the experience and knowledge to handle all types of federal crime cases.

If you are the subject of a federal investigation or have been charged with a federal crime, contact our office at 713-229-9992 or submit an online form to schedule a case evaluation. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our federal crimes attorneys and our legal practice.

Is Kidnapping A Federal Crime?


Kidnapping charges are very serious, especially when specific circumstances, described in more detail below, make kidnapping a federal crime. Federal convictions often yield longer prison time and steeper fines for defendants. Beyond prison time and fines, kidnapping convictions are felony convictions, which may lead to lifelong consequences and restrictions on your rights and freedom.

If you have been charged with kidnapping, you need an experienced attorney who will aggressively defend your case. Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC are skilled criminal defense attorneys who represent defendants charged with kidnapping in federal court or Texas state court. We know that the prospect of facing kidnapping charges is frightening, but our attorneys will fight for your rights and the best possible outcome in your case.

Kidnapping As A Federal Crime

As mentioned above, specific facts can make kidnapping a federal crime. Under the scenarios described below, defendants will likely be facing federal kidnapping charges.

  • The victim is taken to another state or foreign country.
  • The victim is taken in the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
  • The victim is taken in the aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.
  • The victim is a foreign official, internationally protected person, or an official guest.
  • The victim is a federal officer.
  • The victim is a child under 16 taken by his or her parent to a foreign country.

Under federal kidnapping laws, sentencing levels are increased when an adult kidnaps a child under the age of 18 and is not related to the child. As mentioned above, punishment is usually steeper for federal crimes, and federal sentencing guidelines limit sentencing options for defendants.

Kidnapping As A State Crime

In general, a kidnapping that involves family matters will be charged in Texas state court, unless the child is taken to a foreign country. Under Texas law, kidnapping is a felony crime if a person intentionally or knowingly abducts another person. The crime is a 3rd-degree felony unless kidnapping charges are elevated to aggravated kidnapping charges because the defendant abducted the victim with any of the following intents:

  • To hold the victim for ransom or reward.
  • To hold the victim hostage or as a shield.
  • To commit a felony or to flee after committing a felony.
  • To inflict bodily injury or sexual abuse.
  • To terrorize the victim or someone else.
  • To interfere with a political or governmental function.

Kidnapping consequences are elevated when a defendant uses a deadly weapon to kidnap the victim. Aggravated kidnapping is a felony of the 1st-degree unless a defendant can prove that he or she released the victim to a safe place. In that case, the conviction may be reduced to a felony of the 2nd-degree.

Consequences For A Kidnapping Conviction

Punishments for kidnapping convictions vary depending on the level of the felony conviction and whether you are convicted in federal or state court. Defendants can be sentenced to as little as two years under some circumstances in state court and up to life in prison in other circumstances. Federal kidnapping convictions can lead to prison sentences of 20 years up to life in prison.

Kidnapping Defenses

Kidnapping charges do not have to lead to convictions if you have a good defense. For example, a defendant may avoid conviction if he or she did not intentionally or knowingly abduct the victim. A defendant may also avoid a kidnapping conviction if he or she is the parent of the alleged victim who intended to assume lawful control of his or her child.

The Best Possible Outcome In Your Case

A skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Depending on your case facts, this may mean that you are found not guilty at trial, or your charges are reduced or dismissed entirely. Prosecutors typically prefer to avoid the time, expense, and uncertainty of trial. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to secure a favorable plea agreement that avoids a trial and reduces your charges.

Kidnapping Defense Attorney

We understand that kidnapping charges are not always what they seem. Prosecutors frequently overcharge defendants to scare them into pleading guilty to a lesser crime. It is important not to speak with prosecutors or law enforcement officers without an attorney representing your interests.

If you have been charged with kidnapping or another crime, a kidnapping defense attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help protect and defend your rights and your freedom. Contact our office at 713-229-9992 or submit an online form, and we will be in touch with you. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our law firm and the types of cases that we handle.

Common Federal Theft Crimes For Which You Could Face Charges

federal theft crimes

Facing federal charges of any type is stressful and overwhelming, and it can be even more difficult for defendants who never expected to be charged with a federal crime. Federal theft charges can be complicated and unexpected because certain circumstances surrounding the alleged theft crime may turn what would otherwise be a state theft charge into a federal charge.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, contact a federal theft crimes attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. There is a lot at stake for defendants who have been charged with federal crimes, and only attorneys who have experience representing defendants in federal matters should be trusted to handle your case.

Overlapping Federal And State Charges

Sometimes theft charges that may be brought in local state courts may also be charged in federal court, as well. Although it is possible for defendants to face both state and federal charges for the same crime, charges are typically only brought in either federal or state court.

Defendants going through the federal criminal process are usually subject to harsher penalties and punishment if convicted, which is why defendants generally prefer to face state charges over federal charges.

Embezzlement Vs. Theft

Embezzlement and theft can both be charged at the federal level. These terms are often used synonymously, but embezzlement and theft are actually two different crimes. Theft means that you unlawfully took property belonging to someone else with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of that property. Embezzlement generally means that you or your employer was entrusted with property or funds that you subsequently stole or misappropriated.

The charges and crimes may be different, but both are considered federal theft crimes when charged at the federal level. Both crimes are very serious, and depending on specific case circumstances, you could be facing significant fines and prison time if convicted of either federal charge.

Common Federal Theft Crimes

There are many types of federal theft and embezzlement crimes. See below for a description of some of the more commonly charged federal theft crimes.

  • Theft of public money, property, or records
  • Theft of tools and materials for counterfeiting
  • Misusing or failing to deposit public funds
  • A federal employee converting someone’s property
  • Theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by a bank officer or employee
  • Theft or embezzlement related to healthcare or medical products
  • Theft of livestock
  • Theft or embezzlement from employee benefit plans
  • Theft or embezzlement by employees of employers receiving federal funds

Punishment For Federal Theft Crimes

The severity of punishment, including fines and prison sentences, depends upon individual case facts. Penalties for convictions can be on the lower end with up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine, or on the higher end with 30 years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines per conviction. Defendants who have been charged with multiple federal crimes may be looking at massive fines and life in prison.

Other Circumstances That Can Lead To Federal Charges

Sometimes theft crimes that are charged at the federal level do not have anything to do with theft from the government or being a government employee. As previously mentioned, sometimes theft crimes that would normally be charged at the state level are charged at the federal level because of particular facts and circumstances related to the theft.

For example, if you steal property locally and you are caught with it in another state, you may be charged at the federal level because you moved stolen goods across state lines. Theft involving goods on the Internet or stealing packages from people’s doorsteps can also be charged as federal crimes. Sometimes the only circumstance that leads to federal charges is when a crime is committed on federal property.

Unfortunately, defendants are often surprised to learn that they have been hit with federal charges for theft crimes that they may not have expected to be anything more than state-level crimes. It is critical that defendants understand what they are up against when they are charged with federal crimes. And it is even more critical for defendants to secure legal representation with a skilled federal criminal defense attorney.

Federal Theft Crimes Attorney

If you have been charged with a federal theft crime, an experienced federal crimes attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help protect and defend your rights. Contact us at 713-229-9992 or online to schedule a free consultation. Federal charges are serious, but a good attorney will help you secure the best possible outcome for your case.

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White-Collar Crimes And Federal Charges: Do They Go Hand In Hand?

white-collar crimes

Sometime around the year 1939, the term ‘white-collar crime’ was first used. While this type of criminal act has somewhat made a name for itself with the mainstream pop culture sector, many people still don’t understand what the phrase entails.

A question that’s even more confusing to some—is a white-collar crime serious? Or, more specifically, are white-collar crimes viewed as federal criminal charges? The short answers are yes, and yes.

When you have questions about what’s involved with white-collar crimes and their severity, it’s best to speak with an experienced criminal attorney like the team at Vinas & Graham. Federal criminal charges are no laughing matter and can disrupt your entire life.

What Is A White-Collar Crime?

While the phrase ‘white-collar crime’ doesn’t sound overly threatening, it’s one that can easily lead to federal criminal charges.

These types of crimes are generally committed without physical violence but involve a variety of fraudulent activities, such as deceit, cover-up, or violation of trust. The primary motivation in white-collar crimes is money—obtaining it, keeping it, or falsifying circumstances to secure a personal or professional gain.

White-collar crimes are most often committed by business professionals and politicians who view their offenses as ‘victimless crimes.’ As with other federal criminal charges, however, there is always a victim involved. These types of crimes can destroy businesses, families, and investors.

Within the FBI’s white-collar crimes division, several different types of federal criminal charges are investigated, including:

  • Money Laundering
  • Corporate Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Government Fraud
  • Mass Marketing Fraud

Money Laundering

To hide their ‘dirty money,’ many criminals will try to make it look like income stems from legitimate sources. This process is known as money laundering and leads to serious federal criminal charges as it undermines financial organizations and dissuades foreign investments.

By disguising their money, criminals can conceal their wealth, dodge high taxes, and fund any future criminal activity they’re considering. Some of the most common platforms they use to do this are financial institutions, precious metal distributors, international trade, and real estate.

Corporate Fraud

When you hear phrases like insider trading, hedge fund fraud, or falsified accounts, these are illegal activities that fall under the umbrella of corporate fraud. As one of the most significant priorities within the FBI, corporate fraud is an example of white-collar crimes that come with the possibility of substantial federal criminal charges.

The FBI puts the bulk of its corporate fraud-focus on cases that involve various accounting schemes. These offenses serve to scam investors, auditors, or corporate analysts whose job it is to determine the authentic financial circumstances of corporate and business entities. If not properly dealt with, these types of criminal activities can cause incalculable damage to the U.S. Economy.


Embezzlement is one of many white-collar crimes that is widely discussed but often misunderstood. Experienced criminal attorneys like Vinas & Graham will often define embezzlement as the theft of personal property, most often money, by the individual who was entrusted to hold it.

Whether the defendant has taken the property for themselves or relinquished it to a third party, the action still falls under the label of embezzlement. A frequent example of this would be if a company is holding someone’s money in trust, and they choose to take some, or all, of the money for themselves.

Government Fraud

If an individual or company submits a falsified claim for payment to the U.S. Government, this is considered government fraud and is susceptible to federal criminal charges. Some of the most common types of government fraud include:

  • Healthcare or Medicare/Medicaid Fraud
  • Military Contractor Fraud
  • Procurement Fraud
  • Public Works Fraud

Mass Marketing Fraud

Mass marketing fraud is a general term that consists of various scams and schemes that are committed using mass communications platforms, such as the internet, phone, or mail. In-person meeting frauds can also fall into this category.

This far-reaching example of white-collar crimes can include everything from charity schemes to phishing. There are generally two different categories of mass marketing frauds. The first involves scamming a large group of people for smaller amounts of money. The other is when a criminal targets a small group of people, but they’re scammed for large sums. Both of these can be classified as federal criminal charges.

Are You Facing Federal Criminal Charges For One Of These White-Collar Crimes?

Each year, white-collar crimes cost the U.S. Government approximately $300 Billion. As you can imagine, these types of fraudulent schemes are not taken lightly, and punishments can be severe. The penalties involve steep fines, house arrest, and imprisonment.

If you find yourself facing federal criminal charges for white-collar crimes, make sure you have the best legal defense possible. The knowledgeable attorneys at Vinas & Graham have been upholding defendant rights for a combined 30 years. They can help you work the process and provide the best legal defense for white-collar crimes in the Houston-area.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 713-229-9992. You can also check us out on Facebook for even more great information on our legal defense work in Texas.