Law Office of David P. Shapiro - San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney




2550 Fifth Ave Suite 1050, San Diego, CA 92103

San Diego Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

When the federal government levels charges against you, your constitutional rights and future hang in the balance. You need a legal team with extensive experience defending clients in federal courts. At the Law Office of David P. Shapiro, our attorneys have represented many individuals facing the full range of federal criminal allegations.

Our firm has over three decades of combined experience practicing federal criminal defense law. We are intimately familiar with the rules, procedures, and prosecutorial strategies employed in federal cases. This focused experience allows us to analyze all evidence, identify potential weaknesses in the government’s case, and craft a strategic defense aligned with your goals.

Federal prosecutors wield immense resources; you deserve a firm that will match their efforts. Trust the Law Office of David P. Shapiro to protect your rights and interests through ethical representation from start to finish. Contact our respected federal criminal defense team today.

What Makes Federal Criminal Cases Different?

Federal cases aren’t like state criminal proceedings. When you’re under investigation by federal agencies like the FBI or DEA, you’re up against the vast resources of the United States government.

Some key differences in federal cases include:

  • Investigations conducted by federal law enforcement agencies.
  • Cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the federal court system.
  • Special rules and procedures in federal courthouses.
  • Strict federal sentencing guidelines and/or mandatory minimums if you’re convicted.
  • High stakes, requiring a skilled federal criminal defense attorney to level the playing field.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you need a lawyer who knows how to work the federal system. At the Law Office of David P. Shapiro, our successful case results speak volumes about our ability to litigate federal cases and go toe-to-toe with federal prosecutors.

We Defend Against All Types of Federal Crimes

San Diego’s location on the border with Mexico makes it a hotspot for certain federal crimes. Some of the most common offenses we defend against include:

  • Possession, production, or distribution of child pornography;
  • Drug crimes, including trafficking and manufacturing;
  • White-collar crimes, like fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and other financial crimes;
  • Weapons trafficking;
  • Human trafficking, sex trafficking, and prostitution rings;
  • Gang-related RICO charges;
  • Hate crimes and civil rights violations; and
  • Internet and computer crimes.

No matter what type of federal charge you face, you need a criminal defense lawyer with specific experience handling cases like yours.

Federal law is complex, and every case is unique, so don’t trust your future to an inexperienced lawyer or attorney who dabbles in multiple practice areas.


Understanding the Federal Criminal Process

When facing federal charges in San Diego, the process is quite different from the state court system. Here’s what you can typically expect:

  1. Investigation: Usually, federal agencies like the FBI or DEA gather evidence and build a case.
  2. Charging Decision: The U.S. Attorney’s Office decides whether to bring charges based on the evidence.
  3. Initial Appearance: You’ll appear before a federal magistrate judge to hear the charges and enter a plea.
  4. Discovery: Your attorney will review the evidence against you and investigate your case.
  5. Plea Bargaining: Many federal cases end in plea deals, but your lawyer will advise you of your options.
  6. Trial: If your case goes to trial, your attorney will present your defense to a jury.
  7. Sentencing: If convicted, you’ll face sentencing under the federal guidelines.

With so many complex moving parts, falling victim to the federal criminal justice system is all too easy without representation. Retaining a federal criminal defense lawyer allows you to protect your rights at every stage of this process.

Consequences of a Federal Criminal Conviction

A federal criminal conviction has life-altering consequences that extend far beyond any sentence imposed.

Some of the potential ramifications include:

  • Prison time in a federal facility, which may be located far from home.
  • Hefty fines and restitution payments that can strain your finances.
  • A permanent criminal record that can hinder employment, housing, and educational opportunities.
  • Loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to possess firearms.
  • Damage to your reputation in the community and personal relationships.
  • Immigration consequences for non-citizens, including deportation.

Facing these severe penalties underscores the importance of having a skilled San Diego federal criminal defense lawyer advocating for you.

Our law firm works to minimize the impact of a conviction on your life and help you take on the challenges that come with a federal case.

Why Hiring a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Matters

Federal charges demand a focused legal defense. These criminal cases are a world apart from state charges. The federal system has its own rules, procedures, and high-stakes consequences that demand a tailored legal approach. Federal cases don’t just impact your immediate freedom –- they can jeopardize your livelihood, assets, and future opportunities. Hiring just any criminal defense attorney can put you at a major disadvantage.

At the Law Office of David P. Shapiro, criminal defense is all that we do. This highly focused experience gives us an in-depth understanding you simply can’t get from a general practice lawyer.

Our attorneys tailor our defenses around the nuances specific to the federal system. From grand jury proceedings to sentencing, we have a command of the entire federal process.

Don’t Wait to Defend Your Rights – Contact Our Federal Criminal Lawyers Now

Our criminal defense lawyers have years of experience representing clients facing federal charges in San Diego and throughout Southern California.

We handle a broad spectrum of federal cases, including drug crimes, fraud, weapon offenses, human trafficking, and more.

When you work with us, you can expect:

  • A legal team determined to help you with your case.
  • Extensive experience with federal cases in San Diego’s federal courts.
  • Skilled negotiators who know how to deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
  • Accomplished trial lawyers ready to make a compelling case in your defense.
  • Commitment to providing the highest-quality representation.

If you’re under investigation for a federal crime or you have already been charged, the most important thing you can do is hire a highly qualified lawyer as soon as possible. Federal cases move quickly, so you must build your defense immediately.

Contact us today to learn more about how the Law Office of David P. Shapiro can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between state and federal charges?

Federal charges are for violations of U.S. federal laws and are investigated and prosecuted by federal agencies like the FBI, DEA, IRS, etc. State charges involve violations of state laws. Some key factors that can make a case federal include:

  • Crimes related to bankruptcy, copyright/patent law, or maritime law;
  • Alleged offenses that occurred in multiple states;
  • Crimes that began in one state and crossed state borders;
  • Internet/cybercrime violations; and
  • Any crime impacting interstate commerce, banking, or communications.

If a crime violates state laws only within that state’s borders, it generally remains a state case. However, federal agencies can get involved if federal laws are violated.

How long do federal cases take?

Federal criminal cases generally take longer than state cases due to their complexity. From arrest to sentencing, the timeline can be six months to over one year. The discovery process, plea negotiations, and the possibility of certain motion filings can significantly extend the duration of a federal case.

What are mandatory minimum sentences in federal cases?

Mandatory minimum sentences are fixed penalties set by Congress that judges must follow for certain federal crimes, such as:

  • Drug trafficking;
  • Firearm offenses;
  • Child exploitation; or
  • White-collar crimes.

With limited ability for judicial discretion, these minimums can result in decades-long sentences even for non-violent offenses. Mandatory minimums underscore the need for aggressive federal defense.


If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in California, swift action is imperative. The penalties can be life altering and long lasting. Give us a call today to set up a case evaluation with one of our attorneys and learn how to best protect your freedom and future. Too often, we see clients who “wait and see,” unsure of the legal landscape ahead, only for charges to escalate. They then find themselves backpedaling into a bad defense and an even worse lawyer. Don’t let that happen to you. Protect your freedom. Protect your future. Know your rights.

The contents of this article are meant for informational and marketing purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Viewing and/or use of the blog does not form an attorney-client relationship. No statements in this post are a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of a particular result in your case.

Client Reviews

Real Clients Share Their Experience

“David and his staff did an excellent job managing all aspects of my case. He and his staff are professional, courteous, and do their best to take care of their client’s needs. When I had initially called for a consultation they were prompt with a response. They answered my questions regarding my case, explained what my options were, and had developed a game plan during our first phone call. He has a very reasonable pricing. When dealing with either David or his support staff I felt that they always had my best interests in mind. I would definitely use their services in the future if the need arises. I would definitely recommend his legal services to any friends and family in the San Diego area.”

—Chris S.  —  Google Review