Federal criminal charges should always be taken extremely seriously. Your freedom and livelihood could be on the line. Despite the fact that federal prosecutors have a high conviction rate, sentences can vary greatly from one case to the next. While some people may have to pay fines, others will be facing several years in prison. Here’s what you should do when facing federal criminal charges.
As soon as you’re notified of any federal criminal charges, consult a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Nothing beats having an experienced legal professional to confide in. Because the government has likely been investigating you for several months or even years, your lawyer must get to work as quickly as possible. They’ll have a lot of catching up to do.
Representing yourself in a federal criminal case is definitely not a good idea. It’s a complex process that requires extensive knowledge of the legal system. You need to know the right steps to take at the right time. Even if you feel there’s no hope, a good lawyer can help you to obtain the best outcome.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to remain silent. Don’t answer any questions unless your lawyer is present. Remember, federal investigators are professionally trained on how to get confessions from criminal suspects. They know a number of physiological tricks and intimidation tactics. Even a seemingly harmless statement can be used against you.
Although you may want to discuss the investigation with your friends, the best approach is to avoid doing so. They could be subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify at a grand jury. By not talking about the case, you won’t have to worry about anyone misinterpreting things or lying on your behalf.
Decide Whether You Want to Go to Trial or Negotiate a Plea Deal
You can either go to trial or negotiate a plea deal. If you truly believe you’re innocent of any wrongdoing, taking the case to trial is the best approach. However, expect the federal prosecutors to act aggressively. If you lose the case, there’s a chance you could receive the maximum sentence.
There are pros and cons to both options. Research shows that only two percent of federal criminal defendants go to trial. Accepting a plea deal can help minimize the risk of you being charged with a more serious crime. On the downside, there’s still a chance you may spend some time in prison. Your lawyer will help you to make the best decision.
Don’t Destroy Any Evidence
Upon being charged with a federal criminal offense, some people immediately begin to eliminate any potential evidence. This includes deleting emails, destroying data, and getting rid of computers. While this may initially seem like a smart move, it’s actually counterproductive. You’ll look more suspicious in the eyes of the federal authorities. Furthermore, tampering with evidence is a criminal offense.
The best approach is to run all evidence by your attorney. Trying to hide documents and other stuff could only make things worst. There’s a good chance that the investigators have already discovered a paper trail.
Avoid Lying to Federal Agents
Most people recognize the seriousness of a federal criminal charge. In an attempt to protect their freedom, they will lie to federal agents when interrogated. Unfortunately, this is a bad idea. All of your statements must match up. If your story has some holes, expect a red flag to be raised. Keep in mind that the entire conversation will likely be recorded and reviewed.
Before you even decide to meet with federal parties, be sure your lawyer is there. They’ll instruct you on how to handle any questions. Experienced federal criminal defense lawyers know what to expect.
Don’t Ignore Subpoenas
There’s a strong possibility you’ll be subpoenaed at some point. You may be asked to come in for questioning or provide evidence. Don’t ignore the subpoenas. Your lawyer will make sure that you meet these requests. They know exactly what the prosecutors are looking for.
Know What to Do If Federal Agents Come to Your Home
Armed federal agents may show up at your doorstep with a search warrant. It’s important that you know how to handle the situation. Although you may feel violated, try to keep a calm demeanor. The last thing you want is to escalate things.
This is not the time to argue your case, so exercise your right to remain silent. There’s no benefit in answering questions at this point. Contacting your lawyer should be a top priority.