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Federal Criminal Offenses
Getting charged in Federal Court is much different and often much more complex than state court. Sometimes discovery can be thousands of pages and often times time is of the essence to work out a positive result. Below outlines the general stages of a federal complaint. Note that the procedure is not as straight forward when compared to state court. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 877-I-CAN-WIN (24/7). Our consultations are always free.
Informal Federal Charges:
In order for an arrest to be made, or charges to be issued the arresting officer must have probable cause. Sometimes this is shown through a complaint. This document is presented to the judge by the officer and explains why they believe that a federal offense has been committed.
If the arrest occurs without a warrant, a complaint is brought in front of the judge at your first court appearance.
The government may choose to bypass this process completely by getting an indictment.
Interview by Pre-trial Services
Once arrested or charged, an individual with the Federal Pretrial Services Agency will contact you. They will attempt to obtain information about your background. This individual will present that information to the judge. The judge will use the information to determine bond and other pretrial detention decisions. You are not required to speak with Pre-trial services without your attorney present. If you do decide to speak with them, you should be completely honest. Pre-trial Services know not to ask any questions regarding your case
Your First Appearance
The government is required to take you in front of a magistrate without unnecessary delay. Here you are read your charges and explained your rights. Bond is also addressed.
If bail is denied, you are entitled to a detention hearing. Usually this is held within 3 days of your first appearance.
You are entitled your preliminary hearing within ten days of your first appearance if you are in custody. You are entitled your preliminary hearing within twenty days if you are not in custody.
Frequently, the Preliminary Hearing and Detention Hearing are combined.
At some point (sometimes before the arrest even occurs, however usually between three to four weeks after the arrest), the prosecutor will attempt to get a formal indictment.
To get a formal indictment, the prosecutor presents evidence to a grand jury. Neither the Defendant nor his lawyer is allowed to be present for this phase. If the grand jury decides that there is enough evidence against the accused, the grand jury issues a formal charging document known as an indictment.
Usually it is extremely easy to obtain an indictment from a grand jury.
After an indictment, the accused will be arraigned in front of a magistrate or judge. Your charges are read and you will have the opportunity to plea to your charges. Generally the defendant enters a plea of not guilty so that the attorney has time to work on the case.
Plea Agreement / Trial
Often times, in exchange for not going to trial, the prosecutor will offer you the chance to plea to a lessor charge. If a plea cannot be agreed upon, the case will proceed to trial.
Obtaining a lawyer early can be extremely helpful in working out a good deal. This is especially true if there are several defendants. Often the first to plea gets the best deal while the last to plea gets stuck with the most amount of time.
Regardless of your intentions, you need to have an federal criminal defense attorney on your side that you can trust. Our consultations are always free. You have nothing to lose by calling.
Call 877-I-CAN-WIN today for your free consultation.
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Your attorney will only handle criminal cases. This means we have probably handled your type of case several times before.