Criminal penalties in California can vary dramatically depending upon the crime in question, not to mention the history of the alleged perpetrator. For example, a person with no previous convictions may receive a lighter sentence or have a better chance of negotiating a plea deal than someone with a history of prior offenses.
The penalties for federal crimes are often particularly severe as federal crimes are often seen as being more serious. In fact, there are sixty crimes which, since the signing of an act in 1994 governing the control of violent crime, carry the death penalty. Most of these involve murder in some form, but there are three which do not. These are as follows:
- trafficking of large quantities of drugs
As this article on federal crimes explains, one of the worries connected with such penalties is that innocent people could be mistakenly executed, particularly since the streamlining of the process in 1996 which restricted habeas corpus filings. These limitations also reduced deadlines creating fewer opportunities for evidentiary hearings. However, as with all charges, you are considered innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. As such, preserving such doubt may be critical to your case.
The consequences of conviction for any crime can be daunting, but this is amplified when one of the potential penalties is capital punishment. Whatever the case, if you are faced with federal charges, it is important to act quickly to form your defense. An attorney could be invaluable, both in explaining the implications of the charges you face and in helping you to negotiate a plea deal or avoid conviction altogether.