In the United States, a federal criminal charge is a charge brought against a person or entity the government believes committed a crime, known as a federal crime or federal offense. While the majority of crimes committed in the United States are handled by the local authorities and charged at the state level, any violation of federal law is investigated and prosecuted by the federal government. The government takes federal offenses extremely seriously, and the potential punishment that can accompany a criminal conviction at the federal level includes imprisonment, fines, and restitution, among other severe penalties. Furthermore, because Congress eliminated parole for defendants convicted of federal crimes after 1987, any person faced with a federal criminal charge can expect to serve the full term of imprisonment if convicted, possibly with some time off for good behavior. If you are facing criminal charges in federal court, contact our reputable defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Pro as soon as possible.
What You Should Do
If you have been arrested and charged with a federal criminal offense, you need to act quickly to protect your rights and put a solid defense strategy in motion, but how do you know what to do first and where to turn for help? At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we understand how devastating it can be to be wrongfully accused of a crime and how important it is to know what to do first when faced with a federal criminal charge, so you can avoid making any mistakes that could hurt your case. That is why we have put together a comprehensive list of some of the first steps you should take after being arrested and charged with a federal crime.
Hire the right federal criminal defense attorney.
You probably already know that you will need to hire a defense attorney to represent your case, but if you don’t already have an attorney, finding one that best suits your needs can be a difficult task. The best advice we can give you is to consider the crime you are accused of committing and then start doing some research in that area of criminal defense. Find a selection of attorneys who specialize in federal criminal defense and have extensive experience handling cases like yours in federal court.
Once you have narrowed down your list to a few federal criminal defense attorneys, schedule consultations so you can have a face-to-face discussion with each one. There is nothing wrong with consulting with an attorney and then deciding to go with someone else, and you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the attorney you hire, so don’t make a final decision until you have spoken with each attorney. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we offer a free consultation to prospective clients for this very reason, so they can sit down with our legal team and determine whether it’s a good fit.
Learn about the charges you are facing.
Finding the right attorney to represent your case may take some time, and in the meantime, you will want to learn everything you can about the criminal charges you are facing.
Write down anything that could be relevant to your case.
Whatever criminal charge you are facing, it is important that you get your facts straight so you can give your attorney a clear picture of the events as you remember them. As soon as you are charged with a crime, you should begin writing down everything you can think of that might pertain to your case. Our memory isn’t as reliable as we might like, and good written notes can give your attorney a better understanding of the facts of your case. If you decide to take notes, be sure to write “Attorney Client Privileged” at the top of each page and explain at the beginning of the document that the notes are for your attorney to review.
Collect important documents.
If you know what the case is about, you can begin collecting any documents that you think might be relevant to the case and make copies of them for your attorney. It’s likely these documents won’t come into play until later, but it doesn’t hurt to have this step done in advance.
Familiarize yourself with the law.
If you are facing a federal criminal charge, it means you are accused of violating one or more federal statutes, which are laws enacted by Congress. Federal criminal offenses are investigated by federal agencies like the FBI, DEA and IRS and are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office, which represents the United States government. There are thousands of federal statutes penalizing a great number of criminal activities. It is important that you understand the criminal charges you are facing as well as your rights and options under the law.
Know the difference between state and federal charges and whether you could face both.
The state government in California and the federal government are “dual sovereigns,” which means they can enact their own laws and prosecute crimes according to those laws. Unfortunately, that means there are certain situations in which you can be charged with a crime in both state and federal court if your conduct violated both state laws and federal law, without the constitutional protection against double jeopardy being violated. In the federal criminal justice system, it is possible for the government to bring criminal charges against a defendant who has already been convicted or acquitted of a state crime.
Find out more about the federal court process.
The federal court process is very different from the state process and so long as you’ve hired an attorney with experience representing defendants in federal court, he can give you a detailed explanation of what you can expect during each stage of the court process. Some important steps in a federal criminal case include the following:
- Initial hearing
- Plea Bargaining
- Preliminary hearing
- Pre-trial motions
- Post-trial motions
Your attorney will be a valuable legal resource throughout the course of your criminal case, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have about your charges or the court process. Knowing what to expect as your case progresses can help you stay calm and focused and that is extremely important when you are faced with a federal criminal charge.
Prepare yourself for a plea bargain or trial.
There are three main ways in which a federal criminal case can be resolved: the charges can be dismissed, the prosecution and defense can negotiate a plea bargain, or the case can proceed to trial. Some defense attorneys tend to push clients to accept a plea deal so they can reach a quick resolution to the case and avoid the trial process altogether. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, we are committed to helping guide our clients towards the resolution that gets them the best outcome possible based on their specific circumstances. For some defendants, that means rejecting a plea deal and going to trial, and if that’s the case for you, you will want a defense attorney in your corner who can adequately prepare you for and effectively represent you during a federal criminal trial.
Let your attorney run your defense.
You should feel comfortable with your attorney and the manner in which he is representing you, but you shouldn’t get too involved in the specifics of your defense. So long as you agree with his defense strategy, let your attorney run your defense. He knows more about the law than you do, he has experience in federal court, and he knows what defense strategy makes the most sense based on the specific facts of your case.
What You Should Not Do
Since we have shared the most important things you should do right away when you are arrested and charged with a federal offense, we will also detail some of the things you should not do in this situation. The following are some of the things you should avoid when you are faced with a federal criminal charge.
Don’t hire just any attorney.
It may seem obvious to say, but if you are facing federal criminal charges, you need a federal criminal defense attorney representing your case. You don’t want an attorney who specializes in DUI defense attempting to navigate the complicated federal statutes regarding drug trafficking or embezzlement, nor do you want to spend years in prison because you chose an inexperienced attorney who didn’t know what he was doing. If you find yourself with an unqualified attorney leading your defense, you will almost certainly not be happy with the results. When faced with a federal criminal charge, your future is quite literally on the line and you need the legal assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience defending clients against federal criminal charges like yours.
Don’t make the mistake of representing yourself in court.
Defendants in criminal cases have the right to represent themselves so long as a judge determines that they are capable of understanding and participating in the proceedings at hand. However, just because you legally can represent yourself in court doesn’t mean you should. Unless you have an extensive background in criminal defense, a comprehensive understanding of federal criminal law, and the ability to analyze and interpret the evidence and compose an effective defense approach, you would only be doing yourself a disservice by representing yourself in your case.
Don’t assume that being charged is the same thing as being convicted.
We know how frightening and overwhelming it can be to face charges for a federal crime, especially if you are innocent, but the one thing we always tell our clients to remember is that being charged with a crime is not the same thing as being convicted. The burden of proof in federal criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the highest burden of proof in any court in the United States. It may feel like the deck is stacked against you when you are up against the federal government, but with a knowledgeable defense attorney on your side and a credible defense strategy on the table, you can set yourself up for success.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Fighting a federal criminal charge may very well be the hardest thing you ever have to do, and the outcome of your criminal case can have a significant impact on the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney any questions you have, both before hiring him and after, about his experience, the court process, the penalties you could face if you are convicted, and how he plans to defend you against the federal charges. Any attorney you hire is going to be working very closely with you for the duration of your case and it is imperative that you are on the same page from the beginning.
Facing a federal criminal charge is an extremely serious matter, we won’t try to tell you that it isn’t. But with the right attorney handling your defense, you can significantly improve your chances of beating the charge and moving on with your life. Don’t panic, just prepare.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro Today
Being charged with any kind of crime is a difficult situation to find yourself in, but facing federal criminal charges is particularly intimidating and facing off against the federal government in court can be a daunting experience, especially for defendants with little to no experience with the criminal justice system. That is why you need to hire a top-rated criminal defense firm to represent you. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our attorneys understand how traumatic it would be for you and your family to be convicted of a federal crime and sentenced to prison for years or for life, and we will make every effort to keep that from happening. No matter what federal crime you are accused of committing, our compassionate and resourceful criminal defense lawyers can help. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.