How Federal Criminal Cases Work
A federal criminal case operates much differently than a state level case. These cases encompass most items that don’t fall into a white-collar criminal case. Drugs and violence are two different types of criminal matters that would fall under this umbrella. It’s a necessity to have a skilled attorney on the case that has experience with federal matters. These cases tend to be much more intense and carry harsher penalties. An attorney may be able to assist you in beating or reducing the charges. The United States Department of Justice, Offices of The United States Attorneys offers a great wealth of information regarding the federal criminal process. Click here to visit their website.
An investigation kicks off the process:
A federal criminal investigation is the onset of any federal criminal matter. You may be notified of an investigation by letter, a home visit, a search warrant, a subpoena, or even through friends and family. Regardless of the method utilized, strict compliance is required. If possible, attempt to contact an attorney at the very earliest convenience.
Following the investigation is charging:
The prosecutor in the matter reviews the information that’s been gathered from the investigation. He or she will then determine whether an indictment is in order. They may or may not present the information to a grand jury depending on the circumstances.
The initial hearing and arraignment:
The day of or after the person is arrested and charged with the crime, they’ll go before a magistrate who’ll read the charges, rights, and possibly the potential outcome(s) of the case. At this point the magistrate will decide whether to set bail based on hearing the facts of the case and several other factors.
Discovery and preparation for trial:
Discovery is the phase where witnesses are contacted, and evidence is gathered. During this period the defense and prosecuting attorney are doing a great deal to prepare for the trial. They’ll consider and anticipate additional factors that may come into play and develop their strategy for arguing the case.
Plea bargaining is the next step:
Plea bargaining involves the government offering an alternative punishment to the one they may receive if they had a full trial. The government typically offers plea deals when it feels it has a solid case against the defendant. If a plea bargain is accepted, the individual must have already plead guilty and would then skip the trial they’d normally be scheduled for and go directly to a sentencing hearing.
The optional preliminary hearing:
Within 14 days of being held on a crime, a mini or preliminary trial can be held. The defendant can waive this; however, their attorney may advise them to participate. The prosecution must meet certain evidence thresholds that establish that they have enough to convict the accused. Some evidence is required to be admitted at this point if it isn’t allowed to be shared with the grand jury.
Federal court motions:
Both before and after the trial, motions can be filed and argued. A motion is a request that the court handle a certain matter before or after the trial. A motion can have a significant effect on the trial and even influence its outcome.
Going to trial:
During trial, your attorney and their opponent will argue their case. The judge simply serves as a referee in the matter to ensure a fair trial. The jury is also selected at this point. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury is given instructions and deliberates. After they’ve reached their decision, the verdict is read aloud. The individual will return to custody if found guilty and a there is an outstanding sentence to be imposed. If they’re found not guilty, they’re able to leave the courtroom in most cases. Heightened security measures are in place at the conclusion of the trial to protect all parties involved.
The sentencing trial:
In a federal criminal case, the judge will sentence the convicted party several months after the fact. They receive advice and follow guidelines that help them arrive at a fair sentence. If applicable, the death penalty must be imposed by a jury. The death penalty on a federal level is still in place although it has been outlawed in many states.
Interview an attorney for the best possible results:
Dealing with a federal offense and the implications it may bring are difficult enough. Our skilled federal criminal offense attorneys are skilled in fighting for your rights and will work hard to get you the most favorable outcome. We’re available for a no-risk case evaluation to determine how we can help you. Call or get in touch with us online for your case review, today.