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Maryland man charged with federal crimes

Federal charges often have more gravity than equivalent state charges. Suspected interstate criminal behavior can complicate charges and worsen penalties, and federal prosecutors may prove more difficult to negotiate with for lower charges. Complex aspects of federal law, such as immigration or taxation, may require help to translate the meanings of charges and understand the impact of a prosecutor's evidence.

A resident of Maryland was recently charged with passport fraud and other crimes related to his residency in the United States. The suspect, a physician born in West Africa, was educated in his native country and worked in Maryland hospitals as well as his own clinic.

His initial application for citizenship based on marriage was denied after investigators claimed the relationship existed only for the application. He registered to vote four years later by claiming citizenship on the form. He then applied for a passport three years later claiming he had been born in North Carolina. An affidavit from a supposed family friend containing an account of his birth was also attached.

The federal charges include a false claim to U.S. citizenship and illegal voting by an alien. Convictions on all counts could result in a sentence of 16 years in federal prison. The federal grand jury returned indictments and a judge ordered the suspect's detention pending a hearing on bail or remand.

Legal representation is vital if a person is suspected of federal crimes. An attorney should be present from any initial questioning to court appearances or discussions with prosecutors. Suspects should exercise their right to representation and insist on that protection at every phase.

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