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Federal Criminal Defense Representation

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The Attorneys of Zukerman, Lear & Murray Co., L.P.A. are experienced in significant aspects of federal practice. Our lawyers have defended clients charged with everything from Federal drug offenses, to federal firearms offenses, theft offenses, fraud offenses and tax related offenses. Being convicted of a federal crime can have extremely serious consequences, including steep fines and lengthy prison terms.

Defense strategies for federal offenses must take into account the higher level of procedural requirements and case preparation. The United States Attorneys Office has an abundant amount of resources not often found at the state prosecutorial level. Your federal charges may have been filed after months of extensive investigation, giving the federal prosecutor time to develop a very strong case against you.


Federal investigators, including those from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and ICE (immigration), to name a few, often invest an incredible amount of time, money, and resources into building a criminal case. The federal government uses a vast array of investigative techniques to build their cases. These include:

  • data-mining—using government or private (banks and insurance companies, for example) databases to identify financial transactions associated with drug dealing, money laundering, or fraud, g., examining billing records for anomalous billing practices, etc.;
  • federal grand jury subpoenasto compel the production of documentse., bank records, emails, texts, etc.;
  • federal grand jury subpoenas to compel witness testimony;
  • search warrantsto search and seize evidence of a crime;
  • physical surveillance;
  • court-authorized electronic surveillance(sometimes called “wiretaps”) of conversations, telephone calls, emails, texts, etc.;
  • confidential informants and cooperating witnesses, including jail house informants, to gather information and consensually record conversations/interactions;
  • undercover operations;
  • promises of immunity or plea bargains to induce the cooperation of witnesses;
  • witness/subject interrogations, interviews, and testimony.



The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently declared that one of its priorities is the prosecution of complex white collar or economic crimes because, in its view, the federal government is uniquely qualified and capable of prosecuting such crimes.  White collar crimes include:

  • Ponzi schemes and investment frauds;
  • Bank frauds (embezzlement, loan frauds);
  • Tax fraud (illegal tax avoidance/abusive tax shelter schemes, fraudulent refund schemes, etc.);
  • Bankruptcy fraud;
  • Government program fraud (e.g., fraudulently obtaining government benefits from various agencies, or government contracting fraud);
  • Health Care Fraud;
  • Corruption (bribery and kickback schemes).


The penalties for federal drug crimes can be very harsh and may include severe mandatory minimum sentences of five, ten, fifteen, twenty years in prison, or even life in prison, depending on the facts of the case, quantities involved, and the accused’s criminal history.  Common federal drug charges include:

  • Conspiracy(21 U.S.C. § 846)
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute(21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (1))
  • Distribution of a Controlled Substance(21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1))
  • Manufacture of a Controlled Substance(21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1))
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance(21 U.S.C. § 844)
  • Aiding and Abetting (18 U.S.C. § 2)


The U.S. Attorneys takes their responsibility to protect the public from violent crimes seriously.  Because the federal government has the resources and power to put a dent in violent crime, it often prioritizes the prosecution of certain violent crimes over others.  When doing so, the federal government often uses state and local law enforcement task forces as a “force multiplier” when it is trying to rid communities of particularly violent criminals.  The most commonly charged violent crimes include:

  • Project Safe Streets–targets gang violencethrough gun and drug prosecutions, RICO prosecutions, dangerous felons in possession of a firearm (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)), and Armed Career Criminals (18 U.S.C. § 924(e)) and Career Offenders, and;
  • Project Safe Childhood—aggressively targets the possession and distribution of child pornography along with the exploitation of vulnerable victims (18 U.S.C. § 2252A and 2256);
  • Bank Robberies(18 U.S.C. 2113(a)).


Internet sex crimes are felonies that involve very serious consequences. Authorities are targeting Internet chat rooms and illegal websites in an effort to crack down on child pornography and the online solicitation of minors. However, just because illegal images or videos are on a person’s hard drive does not mean they were the one that downloaded the images or videos. With misidentified pop up ads and online hackings, the images could be on the computer without the accused ever knowing. At Zukerman, Lear & Murray Co., L.P.A., we work to defend those accused of Internet sex crimes. Some of the most commonly charged Internet sex crimes include:

  • Possession of child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2251 through 18 U.S.C. 2260(A))
  • Sending or receiving child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2252)
  • Online solicitation of a minor (18 U.S.C. §§ 2422 and 2423)
  • Chat room luring (18 U.S.C. §§ 2422 and 2423)
  • Sex Trafficking (22 U.S.C. § 7102)
  • Teens sending or receiving nude photos using cell phone (18 U.S.C. §§ 2422, 2423)


The decision to plead guilty or to go to trial is one of the most important decisions you will be required to make, and may depend heavily upon sentencing considerations (see below). The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by jury. Any decision to plead guilty, accept a plea agreement, waive trial by jury or otherwise give up any constitutional right is exclusively yours to make.

The knowledgeable attorneys of ZLM will fully advise you as to your available options and give you the benefit of our lawyers’ experienced-based judgment as to the advantage or risk of each option, as well as a recommendation as to which decision is in your best interest.


If your case involves a plea agreement or you are convicted at a trial, you will face a federal judge for sentencing. Sentencing is not a simple process.

One thing that will be extremely important are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are prepared by an independent commission, the United States Sentencing Commission. The Guidelines provide judges with an advisory range of possible penalties, including months in prison, for each federal crime and for each person who commits a crime. It will be very important to work on and figure out what that range will be and whether there are legal ways to lower that range, known as “departures” and “variances”.

The Guidelines are advisory, meaning, they are merely suggestions for the judge regarding what an appropriate sentence would be in a given case. While, absent statutory minimum mandatory sentences, the judge has discretion in imposing sentence, judges typically place great weight in the advisory guideline range. Before imposing a sentence, the judge is required to look at a number of factors, including the history and characteristics of you as a person, the nature and circumstances of the offense(s), what happened and why it happened, and whether people were harmed by the crime.

Your attorney needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual so that they can work with you to help you understand the complex nature of federal sentencing and convince the judge to impose the lowest sentence possible.

The attorneys of Zukerman, Lear & Murray Co., L.P.A. can help you navigate the complex federal system and make sure that your constitutional rights are protected to the fullest extent of the law, throughout the process. If you are charged with a federal crime, or you are the subject of a federal investigation, call the experienced attorneys of Zukerman, Lear & Murray Co., L.P.A., today.

Featured Success Stories

Mail carrier retained ZLM to represent her regarding theft of mail allegations involving over 700 pieces of mail and theft of gift cards. ZLM attorneys successfully negotiated a plea to federal Petty Offense misdemeanor charge of Obstruction of Mail. Client avoided prison and was sentenced to only two years probation.
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