State and Federal Criminal Defense


When you’ve been charged with a state or federal crime, you will need an experienced pressure-tested advocate with a proven track record of exceptional results at the state and federal levels. Walter Ruiz is a trial lawyer with over twenty-seven years of litigation experience in state, federal, and military courts.
Mr. Ruiz will skillfully guide you through the investigative process and analyze your case by investigating the facts, identifying all available legal defenses, researching the legal issues, and filing the necessary defensive motions. When the time comes for you to choose between a trial or a negotiated settlement, you will be able to make an informed and intelligent decision.


There is no substitute for meticulous analysis of evidence and rigorous preparation at every stage of the case. That rigorous preparation and analysis begins from the first meeting with the client and continues throughout every stage of the case. I work closely with my clients to understand their perspective and identify key issues with the sufficiency of the evidence. A collaborative approach with experts and investigators is essential in successfully challenging the government’s narrative.


Crimes are generally divided into Felonies and Misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious crimes characterized by the most severe consequences, which may include prison and severe fines. Misdemeanors are typically less serious offenses but may, nevertheless, result in negative long-term consequences. Misdemeanors may also result in loss of liberty via confinement at a local jail, as well as fines and costs.

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Burglary
  • Computer Crimes
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drunk Driving & DWI
  • Federal Crimes
  • Fraud
  • Gun Crimes
  • Hate Crimes
  • Immigration Crimes
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder Homicide
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Official Misconduct
  • Public Corruption
  • Robbery & Car Jacking
  • Securities Fraud
  • Sex Crimes
  • Tax Crimes
  • Traffic Crimes
  • Theft
  • Weapons Crimes


  • Insufficiency of the Evidence
  • Illegal Search and Seizure
  • Self-Defense
  • Speedy Trial Violation
  • Statute of Limitations
  • Warrantless Stop
  • Advice of Counsel
  • Alibi
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Insanity
  • Necessity


Certain offenses are so serious they are prosecuted on the federal level. (U.S. District Court). Certain offenses are also prosecuted at the federal level because of where they occur, or because of the particular nature of the crime. These types of crimes carry harsh penalties and long prison times. If you suspect you are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or another federal branch of law enforcement, you should immediately seek counsel. As a former Federal Defender, Mr. Ruiz has extensive experience representing clients investigated or accused of federal crimes violations.

A federal target letter is issued by federal prosecutors to individuals under criminal investigation and puts them on notice that the federal government is investigating them for violations of federal law. Federal target letters are most commonly issued in white-collar crimes and are usually the last step a prosecutor takes before seeking an indictment against the target of the federal criminal investigation. A “target” is defined by the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual as a person whom the prosecutor “has substantial evidence linking” to the commission of a federal crime. (United States Attorney’s Manual s. 9-11.151)


  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Racketeering
  • Money laundering
  • Hobbs Act violations
  • Conspiracy offenses
  • Bank fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Gun crimes
  • Drug crimes

Federal Sentencing

Unlike sentencing in many state courts, where most sentences are imposed pursuant to a plea bargain, federal sentences are generally decided by a judge after a defendant has pled guilty or been convicted at trial. In determining the appropriate sentence to impose, a judge will consider the statutory maximum penalty, any mandatory-minimum penalty, and the federal sentencing guidelines, which establish a series of escalating sentencing ranges based on the circumstances of the offense and the criminal record of the offender.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

In considering the appropriate sentence within the statutory minimum and maximum available sentence, a federal judge is guided by a complex set of federal sentencing guidelines implemented by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

The Sentencing Guidelines are not binding on the judge, and therefore at several critical junctures of the federal sentencing process the defense has a role in advocating and negotiating-with the prosecution, the probation office and the judge.

In determining an appropriate sentence, the federal judge must:

  1. Determine the proper guideline range;
  2. Determine whether to apply any of the Guidelines’ various factors for increasing or decreasing the sentence (“departures”); and
  3. Consider all the factors also set forth by law in (18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)) as a whole, including whether a variance from the Guidelines is appropriate.

Under this last step, the judge is required to consider the following factors. If you face a federal sentencing, Walter Ruiz will work closely with you to determine which facts from your life and the circumstances of your case are key to seeking an appropriate sentence:

  1. The nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
  2. The need for the sentence imposed to reflect the four primary purposes of sentencing, i.e., retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation;
  3. The available sentencing options (e.g., whether probation is prohibited, or a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is required by statute);
  4. The sentencing range established through application of the sentencing guidelines and the types of sentences available under the guidelines;
  5. Any relevant policy statements promulgated by the United States Sentencing Commission;
  6. The need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
  7. The need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.

Final Sentence Determination

After considering all these factors, the Court is to impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary to:

  1. Provide just punishment for the offense;
  2. Afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
  3. Protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
  4. Provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner.