As soon as you suspect you have become the target of a federal investigation, you strongly should consider seeking legal advice. Criminal investigations into complex federal charges may take months or even years, and the earlier you retain legal counsel, the better chance they can protect your interests. It may be highly advisable to consult an Austin federal criminal lawyer as soon as possible under the circumstances.
By enlisting the help of a criminal defense lawyer during the early stages of the investigation, you could explore any available defense strategies or other ways to mitigate your charges. Call today to begin working toward a positive resolution of your case.
Federal Criminal Investigations
The first stage of a federal criminal prosecution involves an investigation by federal authorities, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). This stage can be quite lengthy, as investigators continue to acquire evidence to support federal criminal charges. Investigatory tactics may include conducting surveillance, executing search warrants, and interviewing witnesses.
During the investigation stage, federal authorities may approach subjects directly to question them and gather further evidence. While it is natural to want to cooperate to authorities, statements made during an investigation may be inadvertently incriminating, which can damage any potential defenses. Individuals approached by federal agents should consider speaking with a federal criminal lawyer in Austin as soon as possible.
Filing of Criminal Charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Once federal agents accumulate sufficient evidence that a federal crime has occurred, they present the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review. An Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) will determine whether to continue the investigation or file charges in federal court. If the AUSA elects to pursue a case, the subject of the investigation will be subject to arrest and appear in court to face formal charges.
One of the critical issues at this stage of the proceedings is bail. If judges or magistrates determine that the accused individuals are flight risks or threats to public safety, they may set bail at extremely high levels or otherwise order the individuals to remain in custody pending trial. Having representation at this initial bail hearing by an Austin federal criminal attorney could mean the difference between staying in prison for months or returning home until trial.
Federal Court Hearings and Status Conferences
Federal courts sometimes schedule numerous hearings and status conferences to address different issues related to the case and allow the parties to negotiate a plea bargain. If the accused individuals, their legal counsel, and the AUSA cannot reach a mutually acceptable agreement, then the court would schedule the case for jury trial.
At a jury trial, defendants have the right to confront their accusers, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence in support of their defense. Ultimately, the jury determines the accused’s guilt or innocence. If the jury returns a guilty verdict, the judge decides what sentence is appropriate at a later hearing.
Contact an Austin Federal Criminal Attorney for Help
Federal criminal law is a complicated area that requires extensive knowledge and experience with the federal court system. The potential penalties may be much higher than in state criminal courts, so building a strong legal defense becomes even more important in a federal case. An Austin federal criminal lawyer may be able to offer you the legal assistance and advice you need and deserve in this situation.
Various defenses may be applicable in your case. With strong legal representation on your side, you could explore your legal options and potentially lessen the impact of federal criminal charges on your life.