It can be intimidating when the federal government charges you with a crime. Federal investigations may involve the FBI or DEA, and these organizations tend to have more resources than state police, which may mean a more aggressive investigation and prosecution.
If you face federal charges, you should take steps to protect yourself and your interests. A Fort Worth federal criminal lawyer may be invaluable as you plan a course of action. Your case may require a strong defense strategy or the negotiation skills of an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney. Call today to discuss your options.
Common Federal Charges
While many crimes can be tried at the federal level, certain offenses are more common than others, including:
- Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) charges
- Federal DUI
- Federal drug offenses
- Child pornography
The federal government may charge a person with conspiracy when two or more people make a plan to violate federal law, or the plot involves two or more states. RICO is typically used to capture those involved with organized crime.
Cases may also be federal if a federal organization, such as the US Postal Service, is used to carry out an illegal act, or the act occurs on federal property.
Federal Criminal Procedure
Grand Jury Indictment
Federal criminal cases involve unique procedures compared to those at the state level. Before a prosecutor moves forward with a case, they must go before a grand jury made up of 12 to 23 jurors. That body determines if the government has enough evidence to bring charges against an individual. If so, the jury will hand down an indictment containing the exact charges.
After a grand jury indicts a person, the government may arrest them or request they turn themselves in. There will be an initial appearance before a judge who will read the charges against the defendant and remind them of their rights. Next, the court decides whether or not to detain that person, based on a hearing.
Discovery and Plea Bargaining
The government and defendant may then engage in discovery, which is a chance for each side to procure evidence and information from the other party. After discovery, the government may offer the defendant a plea.
Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings
If the defendant does not accept the plea, there may be pre-trial motions and preliminary hearings. A typical motion involves arguments to keep specific evidence out of court because it violates the defendant’s rights.
Trial and Sentencing
At the trial, both sides may present evidence and witness testimony. The jury hears their arguments, they must come to a unanimous decision about whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Call a Fort Worth Federal Criminal Attorney for Help
As soon as you suspect the FBI or another federal agency is investigating you, you may wish to seek out the aid of an experienced attorney. The federal government aggressively pursues cases and usually has more resources available to it than state police. A Fort Worth federal criminal lawyer may be able to help you plan a strong defense and negotiate with the federal government on your behalf.