Fairfax, VA, Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

For those seeking a Fairfax, VA, Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer, the office of Scrofano Law P.C. may be the answer. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Scrofano Law, PCGretchen Taylor Pousson
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Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Fairfax, Virginia

If you or your loved one is facing possible federal criminal charges, it could be overwhelming since you could end up in prison. But it is crucial that you understand the dynamics of such charges and how to defend yourself against them.

Federal criminal defense is a complex area of law that involves the representation and defense of individuals charged with a federal crime in court. The strength of your defense determines the outcome of your case, and you might need professional legal help to ensure a favorable outcome.

So, if you’re wondering, “what is a federal defense criminal lawyer and when do you need one?” the information here can provide some answers and improve your understanding of the federal criminal justice system as you prepare for your case.

Keep reading to learn more about dealing with federal crimes and how experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers can defend you, protect your rights, and help you fight for a positive outcome.


What Is a Federal Crime?

Federal crimes violate federal laws and are prosecuted by federal government agencies in federal courts. Some of these crimes include white-collar crimes, drug trafficking, and cybercrime.

These crimes are distinguishable from state crimes which violate state laws and are prosecuted by the various state governments. But in some cases, some crimes may fall under federal and state jurisdiction. In such instances, the prosecution may pursue the case in either federal or state court.

Classification of Federal Crimes


Federal crimes are primarily classified as felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. A felony under federal criminal law is punishable by imprisonment for at least a year and includes crimes such as the sexual trafficking of children, drug crimes, and fraud.

Misdemeanors such as theft of public property are punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than one year.

Title 18 of the US Code further creates a detailed classification system for federal felonies and misdemeanors based on the penalties attached as follows:

  • If the maximum penalty for the offense is life imprisonment or death, the offense is a Class A felony.
  • Offenses with a maximum penalty of twenty-five years or more are categorized as Class B felonies.
  • If the mandatory jail time is between ten and twenty-five years, the offense is a Class C felony.
  • Offenses with a sentence of at least five years but not more than ten years are classified as Class D felonies.
  • If the prescribed sentence is less than five years but more than one year, the offense is a Class E felony.
  • Offenses punishable by incarceration for at least six months but less than one year are classified as Class A misdemeanors.
  • If the maximum punishment for the offense is six months, it is Class B misdemeanor.
  • If the prescribed punishment is at least five days in jail, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor.
  • A jail sentence of five days or less is imposed for infractions.

This classification is important as it determines the possible sentence you could face if you’re convicted.

If you’re being charged with offenses in one of the more severe classes, you can contact a skilled Fairfax federal criminal lawyer who might be able to get your charges or sentence reduced.

How Federal Crimes Are Investigated and Prosecuted


Federal crimes are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the United States Secret Service. These agencies work closely with the US Attorney’s Office as they represent the federal government during court proceedings in criminal cases.


What Happens When a Federal Crime Occurs?

When a federal crime occurs, the relevant federal law enforcement agency may do any of the following depending on the evidence they possess:

  • Arrest the suspect without a warrant
  • Obtain an arrest warrant and initiate the arrest
  • Delay arresting the suspect to obtain additional evidence
  • Request a hearing from a grand jury with the help of federal prosecutors

A grand jury is a group of selected citizens who are empowered to investigate whether a crime has been committed. Before reaching a decision, they gather evidence and issue subpoenas to possible witnesses who are required to attend the hearing and give their testimony. If the evidence shows that a particular individual is responsible for the crime in question, the grand jury will issue an indictment, formally accusing the suspect of the crime.



After the defendant’s arraignment in court, both parties typically engage in a process called discovery. This process allows both parties, especially the defendant, to demand and obtain information and other materials relevant to the case. It is essential that you’re represented by skilled federal criminal defense attorneys throughout this process. They understand what it takes to escape your charges and know the kind of information to obtain from the prosecution to help your case.


Plea Bargaining

Sometimes the government prosecutor and the defendant may agree to forego trial in a federal court in exchange for a guilty plea. This process is called a plea bargain, and in exchange for the guilty plea, the defendant gets certain concessions, including:

  • Where there are multiple charges against the defendant, the prosecutor agrees to drop most of the charges.
  • The prosecutor may also agree to ask the court for a reduced sentence or not to oppose the defendant’s application for such a sentence.

The decision on whether or not to take a plea deal is solely yours. Your lawyer can help you assess such a deal and determine whether it is appropriate in your case. Otherwise, they can help you negotiate better terms.

Penalties for Federal Crimes


If you’re found guilty of a federal crime, you could face any of the following penalties depending on the severity of your charge:

  • Imprisonment
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Restitution

These penalties are serious and could affect the quality of your life even after you’ve served your sentence, which is why it is important that you do all you can to avoid a conviction in the first place.


How a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Having a skilled and experienced federal criminal defense lawyer on your side can significantly and positively impact your case’s outcome. Your attorney can help at each stage of the process by reviewing the charges against you, gathering evidence and helping you establish a suitable defense, negotiating with the prosecution, and representing you in court and before the jury.

Your attorney can help you understand what to know when facing the federal court and the federal court system, your rights, the potential consequences of any action or decision you take, and how to conduct yourself throughout the trial.

Your federal criminal defense attorney is there to work toward a positive outcome for your case, so it is a good idea to have them in your corner regardless of any other considerations.

Contact Fairfax Federal Criminal Lawyers at Scrofano Law, PC


If you have further questions about federal criminal defense or need help with your case, contact us at Scrofano Law, PC.

Our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys have a proven track record of successfully representing clients in complex and high-stakes federal criminal cases. They have the knowledge and experience to effectively defend against your federal charges and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Contact us immediately to learn everything to know about criminal lawyers, get answers, and a watertight defense strategy where possible. Let us help you as you stand up to the federal criminal justice system.


We fight for your rights!

Deb Obi

Gretchen was a joy to work with because of her wittiness and fast thinking. She was actually recommended to me by another Lawyer who admired the way she handled things in a courtroom they were both in.

Her advice, encouragement, and patience with me as she handled my case was admirable. She knows her stuff and I felt confident that she was able to get the best outcome for my case based on my interactions with her. Her fast thinking and knowledge of the law and procedures allowed for my case to be dismissed. She is fast on her feet, ready to fight for you while being poised.

If you are looking for someone who is going to listen to you, knows the law, willing to fight on your behalf and is empathetic while at it, please go with Gretchen. You will not regret it.

Kyla Lee

Gretchen has all the skills to get the job done - former prosecutor, serious jury trial experience, and compassion and skill for days. I would not hesitate to hire her as my lawyer.

Mike McElwain

Gretchen was simply amazing. At every phase she developed a brilliant strategy and went well beyond expectations.

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