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What To Do First When Faced With a Federal Criminal Charge

What To Do First When Faced With a Federal Criminal Charge

Have you recently been arrested and charged with a federal crime? Perhaps you are aware that you are the target of an investigation, and you are awaiting your arrest. A federal criminal charge is a serious matter that requires your focused, immediate attention. Regardless of whether the arrest has been made or you are expecting it at any time, now is the time to take action.

The unfortunate reality is that a conviction could send you to prison for years or even decades. It can result in the loss of various rights, large fines and other punishments. You need to take time to prepare yourself for the legal process and to line up a legal team that will represent your interests throughout the proceedings.

Hire the Right Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Regardless of whether you are charged with hijacking, wire fraud, racketeering, armed bank robbery or another type of federal crime, your first step is to hire a federal criminal defense attorney. You may initially assume that you would benefit from the same quality of legal services regardless of the attorney who you work with, but this is not the case. Everything from an attorney’s specialization in a unique area of criminal law to his or her experience with specific cases like yours should come into question when you are hiring a criminal defense lawyer. In addition, focus on critical personal traits, such as integrity, communication skills, diligence and more.

Learn About the Charges
Your attorney should take the time to explain the nature of the charges against you. Once he or she has become familiar with the case, you can discuss the strength of the prosecution’s case and the potential outcome that you may face if you are convicted. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and even defeated when you are faced with such serious consequences. Keep in mind that your attorney may be able to utilize one or a combination of several defense strategies to work toward the most favorable outcome possible. Even if a conviction is inevitable, the attorney’s efforts could result in a plea bargain, a reduction of charges or a lighter sentence.

Understand the Process
The federal criminal process is extensive, and it can take months or longer to walk through. The process actually begins in many cases before an arrest. In fact, some federal investigations extend for years before an individual is indicted. After the arrest, the defendant will make an initial appearance in front of the judge to enter a plea, to hear arguments regarding the pretrial release and to establish bail. This may be followed by discovery, the filing of various motions, plea bargaining and other steps before the case reaches the trial stage. The trial itself has several stages as well, including opening arguments, the presentation of both sides of the case, closing arguments, the verdict reading and sentencing if you are convicted. Various post-trial steps may also take place, such as filing an appeal. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the process. Understanding where you are in the process can be helpful.

Explore the Possibility of a Plea Bargain
The two primary outcomes of federal criminal charges are a trial by jury or a plea bargain. The option for a plea bargain is usually discussed between the defense attorney and the prosecution after the initial court appearance. A plea bargain essentially is a settlement between the two sides. This settlement involves a guilty plea by the defendant in exchange for something else. In many cases, a defendant may receive reduced charges or the prosecution may ask for a light sentence. Keep in mind, however, that the plea bargain must be approved by the judge. The judge can rule against the plea bargain and send the matter to trial by jury.

Let Your Attorney Take the Lead
It can be difficult for some defendants to put all of their faith in their lawyers. After all, a defendant’s future may be on the line. While it is understandable that you may want to retain hands-on control over your defense, it is important to let your attorney take the lead and do his or her job. Federal criminal law is complex. The process is tedious, and the defense strategies must be carefully developed. If you did a good job finding the right attorney for the job, you can rest assured that your case is in the right hands. However, your attorney should keep you in the loop as the case progresses. The right attorney will also always be available to answer questions so that you understand the situation as it stands at the moment.

Request a Legal Consultation Today
Our law associates at Spodek Law Group are ready to fight for you in and out of court. We are eager to learn more about your case and to answer your questions about our experiences and specializations. Contact us today to request a consultation with a member of our team.

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