Anyone that has been charged with a crime may find themselves facing either state or federal charges. State crimes are the ones that most citizens will likely be involved in, since they have a broad and general jurisdiction. Federal crimes are those that involve lawsuits against the United States or those that break federal laws. Knowing what kind of crime the accused has been charged with is important since the system and handling will differ.
How will my federal case move through the court?
When charged with a federal crime, the accused will need legal representation that is familiar with the federal justice system. The federal courts involve a different set of laws and procedure that result in more serious penalties than state crimes.
A federal case will need representation through each step:
- Investigation. The crime will be investigated, evidence collected, and the details of the case worked out by the prosecution.
- Charging. From the information gathered, the prosecution will decide to try the case in front of a grand jury.
- Initial hearing. On the day or day after the accused is arrested, they will appear before a judge to hear the charged leveled against them and whether or not they will be kept in jail.
- Discovery. The prosecution and the defense will take time to prepare for the case by studying the facts, talking to witnesses, examining evidence, and anticipating potential problems.
- Plea bargain. In some cases, the prosecution will offer the defense a pleas deal to avoid a trial and decrease potential sentencing.
- Preliminary hearing. This can occur after the defense has entered a plea of not guilty and the prosecution must show that enough evidence exists to charge the accused with a crime.
- Pre-trial motion. These are decisions made by the court before a trial begins to dismiss charges from a case, to prevent evidence from being admitted for consideration, and even asking for the location of the trial to move.
- Trial. The facts of the case are presented to the jury, who then decides whether or not the accused is innocent of the crime. This involves selecting a jury, presenting the case, questioning witnesses, and allowing the jury to deliberate on a verdict.
- Post-trial motions. Should the accused be found guilty, they may ask for a new trial or the judge can choose to acquit.
- Sentencing. After the accused has been found guilty, they can return to the court at a later date to hear the sentencing for the crime as determined by the judge.
- Appeal. If the defense feels they were wrongly convicted or the sentencing imposed was too harsh, they have the right to appeal the case and raise issues not presented at the trial.
When anyone is facing federal charges, they need representation that is not only familiar with the process, but is dedicated in seeing their case through until the end. Our firm has over 50 years of combined experience in criminal cases, including those at the state level.
If you have been accused of a federal crime, contact Lessem & Newstat, Attorneys at Law, LLP.