Finding out that a loved one is being accused of a crime can be scary and confusing, especially if the criminal charges are being brought in federal court, which means a more complex criminal procedure and harsher penalties if he or she is convicted of the crime. If your loved one is facing federal criminal charges, contacting our reputable defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro is the first step in putting forth a winning defense strategy in your loved one’s case, putting you one step closer to clearing his or her name and safeguarding your family’s future and well-being. When you retain our services, we will stand by your loved one’s side throughout the duration of his or her case, including during the initial stages after the arrest, when his or her fate seems the most uncertain. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation with our knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyers.
What You Should Do
Most people find out they are accused of committing a federal crime when federal agents show up at their door to arrest them, which is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Unfortunately, your loved one’s arrest is only the beginning of what could be a long and trying legal battle, and without a trusted legal advocate on your side advising you on your loved one’s options and rights under the law, it can be difficult to know what to do to improve his or her chances of being released and avoiding the damaging consequences of a criminal conviction. The following are the steps we recommend you take first if a loved one is arrested by federal agents.
Collect as much information as you can.
It may be difficult to get your thoughts together when it seems like your life is falling apart, but keep in mind that the more information you can collect during your loved one’s arrest, the better you will be able to help get his or her attorney up to speed. If the federal agents left a card or any paperwork, keep these documents on hand for the attorney to review.
Contact a federal criminal defense attorney.
One of the first things you should do after your loved one is arrested by federal agents is to contact a federal crimes attorney to represent your loved one in his or her defense. The federal criminal justice system can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially for a lawyer without extensive experience in federal criminal defense, and it is important to have a trusted attorney on your side who can explain your loved one’s rights based on his or her specific situation and protect his or her best interests throughout the case. Hiring the right defense attorney can mean the difference between your loved one going to prison and the charges being dismissed, so be sure to choose an attorney equipped the handle the challenges of federal court.
Write down everything you can remember about the arrest.
Your loved one’s attorney probably wasn’t there when your loved one was arrested, so writing down anything you can remember about the arrest can be helpful in getting the attorney the information he or she needs to get started on your loved one’s case.
Find out what criminal charges your loved one is facing.
If your loved one was arrested by federal agents, it is because he or she is accused of committing a federal offense. If you are lucky, the agents may tell you what charges your loved one is facing. If not, you can find out by attending the pretrial hearing.
Find out when and where the hearing will be.
After being arrested, your loved one should be taken before a judge for a pretrial hearing, also known as an “initial appearance.” At this hearing is when your loved one will be informed of the federal criminal charges he or she is facing and the rights he or she has under the law. The judge will also determine whether your loved one will go to jail or be released pending trial, a decision that will be made depending on the circumstances of the case. After your loved one is arrested, you should find out the date and location of the initial appearance. Call the court’s pretrial services office and ask them when and where the hearing will take place. If you aren’t able to find an attorney in time, the federal public defender’s office will handle the hearing instead.
Attend the hearing.
Attending the pretrial hearing is important, not only as a show of support but also so you can obtain crucial information about your loved one’s case. Arrive at the courthouse with plenty of time before the hearing and head straight to the pretrial services office. They may have questions about your loved one that could help facilitate his or her release. Make sure any answers you provide are as truthful and accurate as possible. Next, go to the courtroom where the hearing will be held and find someone who can answer your questions. If your loved one will be represented by a public defender at the hearing, find that person and talk to him or her about the charges.
Find out where your loved one is being held.
If your loved one is released pending trial, you can work on the next steps together. If not, find out where he or she is being held and then call the jail and find out what their visiting hours are so you can visit as soon as possible. Ask how you can put money on an account in your loved one’s name so he or she can buy supplies and any other necessary items.
Familiarize yourself with the law and the court process.
Federal law is very different from state law and so is the federal court process different from the state process. One of the best things you can do for your loved one is familiarize yourself with the law as it pertains to the charges your loved one is facing. It is also a good idea to research or ask your loved one’s attorney what you can expect as far as the federal court process goes. By equipping yourself with this information, you can be your loved one’s advocate and ensure that you know what is going on at all times.
What You Should Not Do
Watching federal agents arrest your loved one may seem like the end of the world, but it is important to remember that just because your loved one has been arrested does not mean he or she committed a crime, nor does it mean the prosecution can prove its case and get a conviction. Our criminal defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro will do everything in their power to get your loved one’s charges dismissed, or, if the case goes to trial, obtain an acquittal. First things first though, we know that your main priority following your loved one’s arrest is to secure his or her release and adhering to the stages we outlined above is a step in the right direction. It is also important to know what not to do in this situation though because if you make the wrong move or say the wrong thing, you could end up hurting your loved one’s case or facing federal charges yourself. The following are some of the things you should avoid doing if a loved one is arrested by federal agents.
Watching federal agents arrest your loved one is probably one of the most shocking and frightening situations you can find yourself in, and it is normal to feel confused and uncertain about what to do next, especially if the agents showed up at your door in the middle of the night while your family was fast asleep.
Don’t talk to the agents.
Your first instinct is to protect your loved one and you may be tempted to plead with the agents or try to explain your loved one’s actions, but that is never a good idea. It is your loved one’s right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions, and you should follow suit and avoid talking to the agents about your loved one’s arrest. The agents are hoping that you or your loved one say something that can be used against you, so your best bet is to remain silent until you consult an attorney.
Don’t talk to anyone else about the case.
The only person you should discuss the case with is your loved one’s attorney. If you speak to anyone else, they could end up being questioned or called as witnesses, in which case they would be legally obligated to divulge any information you gave them. Even worse, if the things you said can be interpreted as an attempt to impede prosecutors or interfere with the criminal justice system, you could end up being accused of witness tampering or obstruction of justice, which is a federal offense.
No matter how desperate your loved one’s situation may seem, you should always tell the truth to the best of your ability. Making false statements to a federal agent or misrepresenting the truth in any matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government is a federal offense, which means you could face criminal charges, and even if you are trying to protect your loved one, lying could end up hurting his or her case anyway.
Don’t fear the worst.
Yes, being charged with a federal crime is serious and not something that should be taken lightly, and yes, the penalties for a federal criminal conviction are harsh. That being said, many federal criminal cases never even make it to trial. In some cases, federal charges may be dismissed outright due to a lack of evidence, and in other cases, a crucial piece of the prosecution’s evidence may be thrown out because of a pretrial motion, like a motion to suppress evidence. Other cases still are resolved by a plea agreement, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to some or all of the charges in exchange for a reduced sentence or fewer penalties.
If your loved one’s case does go to trial, it’s still not the end of the world. It is important to remember that the burden of proof in a criminal case rests with the government, which means it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your loved one committed the crime in question. Every crime has specific elements that must be established in order to get a conviction, and if the prosecution is unable to prove just one of these elements, it cannot meet its requisite burden of proof and your loved one cannot legally be convicted of the crime.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro Today
At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we understand how devastating and traumatic it can be to watch a loved one be arrested by federal agents, and we can advise you on the best path for moving forward and clearing his or her name. For years, we have dedicated ourselves to protecting the rights of the criminally accused in California and across the country, and we are prepared to act as your loved one’s trusted legal advocate, aggressively protecting his or her rights and using our expertise to craft a winning defense strategy. As a former prosecutor, attorney Daniel R. Perlman has first-hand knowledge of the strategies prosecutors use to win criminal cases and he knows what it takes to get the best possible outcome in your loved one’s case. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro for a risk-free consultation. The best advice we can give the loved ones of those arrested by federal agents is to act quickly to protect your loved one’s rights from the very beginning. Hire our respected criminal defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro as soon as possible to find out how we can help.