You Need a Federal Defense Attorney On Your Side

If you find yourself facing a federal criminal charge, it’s important to seek representation from a skilled federal defense attorney like Josh Kolsrud of Kolsrud Law Offices. With years of experience in federal trials, Kolsrud is well-equipped to handle cases involving a range of offenses.


Whether you've been served with a complaint or are under investigation by federal authorities, having a knowledgeable and experienced federal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.


This article discusses the differences between State and Federal charges, common types of federal crimes, case stages, and defenses.

Why Choose Kolsrud Law Offices to Defend You

At Kolsrud Law Offices, we understand the complexities of the law and are committed to aggressive and effective representation.


We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and determine the best course of action to defend against a conviction in federal court. From handling the legal system to challenging evidence presented by federal agencies and task forces, we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. 


According to the United States Sentencing Commission, in fiscal year 2020, approximately 67% of federal offenders were sentenced to prison. For this reason, it is critical to hire the best federal defense lawyer to fight for you.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Arizona State Crime vs. Federal Crime

How are Federal Crimes Different from State-Level Crimes?

The distinction between federal and state crimes is foundational to understanding the American legal system. This differentiation stems from the dual sovereignty of the United States, which permits both federal and state governments to create, enforce, and adjudicate laws within their respective jurisdictions. Below is a breakdown of the differences:



  • Federal crimes are violations of laws passed by the United States Congress. Such crimes are generally considered offenses against the United States as a whole.
  • State crimes violate statutes enacted by the legislative bodies of the individual states. These are considered offenses against the particular state in which they were committed.


Law Enforcement Agencies

  • Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security.
  • State crimes fall under the purview of state and local law enforcement, such as city police and local sheriff's departments.



  • Cases involving federal crimes are prosecuted by United States Attorneys, representing the federal government.
  • State crimes are prosecuted by state attorneys or district attorneys, depending on the jurisdiction's specific legal structure.


Court Systems

  • Federal cases are tried in federal courts, established under the U.S. Constitution. These courts operate under a distinct set of rules and procedures, including the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  • State cases are heard in state courts, which have their own procedural rules and operate under the legal framework established by the state's constitution and statutes.

This division ensures that the legal system can address a wide range of offenses, from local misdemeanors to crimes with national or international implications.

Drug Smuggling Charges

Common Types of Federal Crimes

Federal criminal law encompasses a broad array of offenses that are prosecuted under the jurisdiction of federal courts. These crimes are considered violations of laws enacted by the United States Congress and often involve matters of national concern, crossing state lines, or occurring on federal property. Below are some of the most common categories of crimes:

  • Human Smuggling

    Human smuggling is defined under federal law as the act of facilitating, transporting, or harboring unauthorized individuals entering the United States, as per 8 US Code 1324. This law specifically aims to penalize those who benefit from or assist in the illicit entry of foreigners into the country. Additionally, it outlaws inducing or motivating aliens to illegally enter or live in the United States.

    Example: An individual who operates a transportation service specifically designed to move unauthorized aliens across the U.S. border, hiding them in vehicles to evade immigration controls.

  • Drug Trafficking

    Drug trafficking refers to the illegal production, distribution, or sale of controlled substances. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies drugs into five schedules based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety or dependence liability. Drug trafficking charges often involve substances like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl and can carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.

  • Illegal Re-entry & Immigration Crimes

    Immigration offenses make up a significant portion of federal criminal prosecutions. These offenses include illegally entering into the United States, illegal reentry after deportation, and smuggling non-citizens into the country. The Department of Homeland Security, through agencies like ICE and CBP, investigates these crimes, which are then prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

  • Fraud and White-Collar Crimes

    Fraud and white-collar crimes involve deceptive practices intended for financial gain. These crimes are diverse, including but not limited to, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, and health care fraud. They typically do not involve physical violence but can result in significant financial harm to individuals, institutions, and the integrity of financial markets.

  • Firearm Crimes

    The government regulates the ownership, use, and trafficking of firearms and ammunition. Key statutes include the National Firearms Act (NFA) and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Common firearms offenses prosecuted include illegal possession of a firearm (by convicted felons, drug users, or undocumented immigrants), illegal sale or trafficking of firearms, and possession of a weapon in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or violent crime.

  • Sex Trafficking

    Sex trafficking, as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 1591, is a serious federal crime that targets individuals involved in the exploitation of minors or adults through force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sex acts. This law enforces strict penalties against those who recruit, entice, or transport people for prostitution or other sexual purposes in exchange for value. It aims to safeguard victims and penalize perpetrators of such exploitation.

  • Cybercrimes

    With the advancement of technology, cybercrimes have become a prevalent concern for federal law enforcement. Cybercrimes encompass a wide range of offenses involving computers and networks, including hacking, identity theft, internet fraud, and the distribution of child pornography. These crimes are investigated by specialized units within federal agencies, such as the FBI’s Cyber Division.

Federal criminal charges

Can You Be Charged By Both the State and Federal Government?

Yes, it's possible to be charged by both the state and federal government for the same act due to the dual sovereignty doctrine. This principle allows both legal systems to prosecute offenses under their respective laws without violating double jeopardy protections.


Cases involving violations of both state and federal law can lead to separate charges in both jurisdictions.


Instances of dual charges often occur in drug trafficking, possession of illegal firearms, or financial fraud cases that violate both state and federal laws.


For example, selling drugs in a state might breach state law, but if the drugs cross state lines, it becomes a federal offense as well. Similarly, using a firearm in a violent crime might lead to state charges, but if the firearm was transported across state lines, federal charges could also apply.

Crossing into Arizona

What Happens If I'm Charged with a Federal Crime?

Being charged with a crime can be a daunting experience. The federal criminal justice system is significantly different from state systems, with its own set of procedures, laws, and penalties. Here's what you need to know if you find yourself facing federal criminal charges.


Initial Investigation and Charges

Investigations often begin long before charges are formally filed. Experienced defense attorneys understand that federal agents, including the FBI, DEA, and ATF, conduct thorough investigations under the guidance of prosecutors. If you believe you are the subject of an investigation, seek legal representation immediately.


Arrest and Initial Appearance

Once charged with a crime, the defendant will be arrested and make an initial appearance in federal district court. Here, the charges will be read, and bail conditions set. This initial stage is crucial, and having a skilled federal criminal lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your bail hearing.


Discovery, Plea Bargaining, and Trial

The discovery phase follows, where the defense counsel receives evidence from the prosecutor. In many cases, especially those involving a wide range of federal offenses, plea bargaining occurs. Your defense law firm with experience in federal defense can negotiate terms potentially more favorable to the defendant.


If no plea is reached, the case may proceed to trial in federal district court, where the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



If convicted in court, sentencing follows. Federal crimes often carry severe penalties, including long prison sentences. Federal sentencing guidelines, though advisory, significantly influence the outcome. Your federal criminal defense attorney from Kolsrud Law Offices can argue for mitigating factors to reduce the sentence.

Federal insurance fraud defenses

Effective Defense Strategies From a Federal Defense Attorney

The most important factor a prosecutor must abide by is proving beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. A strategic and prompt intervention is essential to build an effective defense. This involves leveraging in-depth knowledge of the Department of Justice's investigative techniques and prosecutorial strategies, benefitting from the defense team's extensive experience. Early engagement allows for a thorough assessment of the case, determining potential penalties and building a strategy tailored to the unique aspects of the case.


Attorney Josh Kolsrud has spent many years of his legal career as a Federal Prosecutor - This experience gives you a winning edge to fight for your freedom!


In building a strategy, your attorney will scrutinize the evidence for constitutional violations, such as breaches of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unlawful searches and seizures, to argue for the exclusion of improperly obtained evidence. They might also explore plea bargaining opportunities, seeking to reduce charges or penalties in exchange for cooperation or a guilty plea to lesser offenses.


Moreover, the defense will focus on disproving the prosecution's claims by questioning the credibility of evidence or witnesses, including informants. Another strategy involves arguing for mitigating factors that could lead to reduced sentences, emphasizing the defendant's background, lack of prior criminal history, or other circumstances. Each defense is customized, considering the case's specifics and the client's best interests.

Top 8 FAQs About Federal Charges

A federal criminal defense lawyer, also known as a federal criminal attorney, is a legal professional specializing in representing individuals or entities facing criminal charges in court. These lawyers have expertise in handling the complexities of laws and procedures, which differ from the state level.

Federal Defense Attorney Josh Kolsrud

Get Help From Josh Kolsrud: Former Federal Prosecutor Turned Federal Defense Attorney

Josh Kolsrud, founder of Kolsrud Law Offices, began his legal career at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, where he handled thousands of felony cases and was frequently recognized as "Attorney of the Month" for his outstanding trial work. With a transition to the Major Crimes and Repetitive Offender Bureau, Josh's expertise in prosecuting serious offenses deepened.


Josh's extensive experience includes over 3,500 cases and more than 100 jury trials.


Following his prosecutorial career, Josh served as an Assistant United States Attorney, collaborating closely with federal agencies on complex criminal cases across a variety of sectors including drug trafficking, illegal reentry, human trafficking, and white-collar crimes. This unique background provides Josh with an insider's perspective on federal prosecution tactics, enriching his defense strategies in federal criminal cases.


For personalized legal assistance and to tap into the expertise of a former federal crimes prosecutor turned defense attorney, reach out to Josh Kolsrud at Kolsrud Law Offices. You can request a free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. For more information or to schedule your consultation, call (480) 999-9444 or email Josh directly at

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An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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