Federal Criminal Defense


Trial Experience

Many federal defense lawyers have never tried a criminal case to a jury. Mr. Chetson has tried fives cases to federal juries, and one case in a federal bench trial, with impressive results. Since federal prosecutors have tremendous resources and only bring the best cases to trial, victories for defendants at trial are rare. Faced with such long odds at trial, most federal defendants plead guilty early in order to try to secure a lenient sentence.

Where a guilty plea is undesireable, Mr. Chetson tries federal cases that most lawyers would shy away from. In 2017, Mr. Chetson defended a client charged with helping notorious United Blood Nation gang leader Kelvin Melton kidnap and torture a prosecutor’s father after Melton was convicted in state court and sent to North Carolina’s high security Polk Correctional on a life sentence. After nearly two week-trial, the jury found that Mr. Chetson’s client had not participated in a related Louisiana kidnapping plot targeted at Mr. Melton’s state defense lawyer.

The case required compliance with Special Administrative Measures imposed by the United States Department of Justice. Mr. Chetson and co-counsel reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery during a 15 month in preparation for trial.

In 2019, Mr. Chetson convinced four jurors that his client, a convicted felon from a previous homicide, had not possessed a handgun even though video showed the client firing the gun in a parking lot months after getting out of prison from serving time for his previous conviction. The jury hung and a mistrial was declared.

Also in 2019, Mr. Chetson was the only defense lawyer among more than 80 defendants in one of the largest federal prosecutions in United States history to win any decision at trial. The Charlotte jury found that his client, convicted of participation in a gang, had not agreed to murders as part of the Government’s RICO indictment.

In 2018, Mr. Chetson won a not guilty in a federal trial in which his client was accused of stealing a firearm, among other charges. The jury found that his client had not stolen the gun from the client’s uncle.

In 2016, Mr. Chetson’s client, a Fort Bragg-based army soldier, was found not guilty by a federal magistrate judge after prosecutors failed to prove that the crime had occurred on federal property.

Other Outcomes

Mr. Chetson has won dozens of clients outstanding results, including below-guidelines relief, over the past decade in cases involving client cooperation – 5K1.1, 3553(e) and 3553(f) “safety valve” relief – in complex and multi-defendant conspiracies. Mr. Chetson has also represented clients facing federal investigations, supoenaed for Grand Jury testimony, and requesting Rule 35 and 28 USC 2255 post-conviction relief.

  • Bribery & Corruption – prosecution of more than a dozen county deputies in an FBI sting: Operation Rockfish
  • Mail- and Wire-Fraud Conspiracies
  • Multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud schemes
  • Tax Fraud – Identity theft and tax avoidance schemes
  • RICO – Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations prosecutions of high-level gang members
  • Immigration Fraud
  • Drug Trafficking – International and interstate cocaine, heroin, marijuana, PCP, and methamphetamine charges.
  • Lacey Act Violations – Investigations into the mislabeling of seafood sold to national retailers.
  • 924(c) and 922(g) – firearms offenses