Every case must be viewed through the prism of its own facts and applicable law at the time those facts occurred. In most cases, that view changes as the case progresses, and the attorney becomes more familiar with the facts, the evidence, and the applicable law. The goal, however, remains constant: avoiding the charges in the first instance and, if necessary, an acquittal of the client if charges are filed. Thus, understanding any case is an evolving process requiring repeated examination and reexamination of the evidence, the law, and the options available based on the evidence and the law as they are known to exist at the time.
What follows is a brief discussion of the elements of offenses to many of the most commonly prosecuted federal criminal statutes. It is extremely useful to examine all potential charges, the elements of each, and the facts as they are known at the time, to help determine any real exposure to potential criminal charges. Doing this will also help in the defense investigation and review of the facts, documents, and other possible evidence, and in preparing any planned attempt to convince the prosecutor and the agents that there was no crime intentionally committed by anyone, and, if necessary, in eventually preparing the defense for trial.