Dealing with federal authorities can be a nightmare because they have an extraordinary amount of power. Unlike local state officials that may have budget limits based on the finite tax revenue of that municipality, federal officials have a nearly unlimited budget and can wield this tremendous power recklessly because there are no higher courts above them.
As a result, the current justice system has turned into a system of plea bargains that are essentially commercial contracts. Very few defendants are challenging the cases against them before a jury because the prosecution will work hard to limit the evidence to whatever makes them look guilty. This win-at-all-costs mindset makes it dangerous for defendants to fight a prosecution without a strong federal criminal defense attorney who works in Albuquerque representing them.
Pre-trial is the New Trial
Because 97 percent of all federal criminal cases end in plea bargains, the pre-trial efforts of your attorney can be the key to success. This requires attorneys to obtain the best forensic experts and to hire the best investigators. There may even be video footage or other clear evidence of innocence preserved at the scene of the alleged crime that can spoil if you don’t act quickly.
Pre-trial motions can raise defenses such as entrapment as a matter of law, faulty charging documents, illegal search and seizure, lack of jurisdiction, lack of probable cause when cases are based too heavily on speculation, and a lack of evidence that will have the case dismissed. These issues can be preserved and then raised again in the appellate courts where it is easier to obtain justice.
In the very least, a skilled defense attorney can persuade the prosecutor to give the best plea deal possible to avoid the risks of losing at trial. Prosecutors can be sued when they lose if the prosecution was weak and appears malicious. In addition, the public may also begin to question the legitimacy of similar cases.
By hiring a skilled Albuquerque federal criminal defense attorney, you can make clear public records of the errors. This makes overzealous prosecutors nervous and makes them concerned about the collateral consequences of being unfair with you. Overzealous prosecutors may omit entire elements of an offense and walk right over you if you don’t have an expert in law to support you through the process. For, even if you see the error yourself, your opinions won’t be respected as those made by an expert defense attorney with years of experience.
Overview of the Federal Criminal Process
The federal criminal process begins once you are arrested and held over for a bail hearing. You may be taken before a judge immediately and offered an opportunity to post bail or in no more than 72 hours. The prosecutor will then have to establish probable cause within 10 days of your arrest even if you do bail out immediately.
Probable cause must be established by the four corners of the sworn police affidavit. It must provide a near certainty that you committed a crime and cannot be based on vague allegations that merely place you near the scene of a crime without more. A skilled Albuquerque criminal defense attorney can rebut the finding of probable cause and have the case thrown out at this point. Nevertheless, the prosecution can often refile the charges if they do come up with more evidence in the future.
In order to protect themselves from allegations of vindictive or malicious prosecution, some federal prosecutors will initiate a case by indictment rather than criminal information complaint. An indictment may involve a grand jury who must agree that the elements of a crime were made out, and that they support further proceedings. Nevertheless, if a defendant introduces indisputable evidence that undermines the case, the prosecution will be dropped.
The defendant is then arraigned and given a formal recitation of the charges and their rights. They will have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. The next phase is critical. Your attorney will have the chance to request general and specific evidence from the prosecutor that may prove your innocence.
Then, many pre-trial motions can be filed to limit the evidence admissible at trial. Finally, a trial or plea bargain will finalize the case and end with sentencing. Following the sentencing, some defendants may be eligible for a direct appeal process or post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings to rectify errors.
With many criminal defense lawyers in Albuquerque, how can you know which professional is right for your case? When is the right time to start working with a criminal defense lawyer? If you are like many others who are facing federal criminal charges today, this is a new experience for you. Unfortunately, you have a lot riding on the outcome of your case, so you cannot afford to misstep. After all, the penalties associated with some federal crimes include decades of imprisonment, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and more. With this in mind, now is the time to learn more about the important role that a federal criminal attorney will play in the progression and the outcome of the case.
Your Lawyer’s Role Throughout the Federal Criminal Process
If you are currently being investigated for one or more federal crimes, you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer now or wait until you have been arrested. The federal criminal process has multiple stages, and it can span many years in some instances. A criminal defense attorney’s expertise can be invaluable at each stage.
The process begins with the investigation. More than a dozen different federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies can open and run investigations on a wide range of crimes. Regardless of the agency that is investigating you, you need to be aware of the possibility of self-incrimination when you are being questioned. Your attorney will provide you with critical advice at this stage of the process, and he or she can verify that all of your rights are protected through searches, seizures and more. In some instances, he or she may even play an instrumental role in thwarting the case before it gains steam.
The best time to research federal criminal defense lawyers and to schedule initial consultations is before your arrest. This is because you need time to identify the right lawyer for your case, and you do not want to feel pressured into making a decision because you are sitting behind bars. In addition, your attorney will support you through the initial hearing. At this hearing, bail will be set, and other restrictions may be placed. Your attorney will push for results that are in your best interest.
After the initial hearing, the legal process progresses to discovery and plea bargaining. During these stages, your attorney may identify opportunities to seek reduced charges, to have the charges dropped or to negotiate a plea bargain. However, your lawyer must be prepared to take your case to trial if this is in your best interest. Because of this, a federal criminal defense attorney will be working diligently with his or her legal team to create an effective defense strategy throughout all early stages in the process.
Your attorney will continue to represent you through the pre-trial motions and the trial if the case proceeds to court. The outcome of your case may hinge on your attorney’s abilities to build a solid case and to present it clearly and persuasively in the courtroom. With this in mind, you can see that organization, communication, persuasion and negotiation skills are all essential skills of an effective criminal defense lawyer.
You may assume that a criminal defense attorney is not needed if the case against you seems too insurmountable. However, defense attorneys can use a wide range of proven tactics to achieve a favorable outcome. In addition, your attorney’s efforts may yield a more lenient sentence in the event of a conviction. After sentencing, your attorney can consult with you about the benefits of an appeal and can represent you throughout the appeal if you choose to walk down that path.
Why Expertise Matters When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You can see that your federal criminal defense attorney in Albuquerque will play a crucial role in each stage of the process, so finding the most well-qualified individual as soon as possible is in your best interest. In addition to focusing your attention on a lawyer’s personal skills, expertise must be carefully researched and considered. Be aware that some criminal defense attorneys in Albuquerque only have experience with state and local criminal cases. They may lack the expertise necessary to work on your federal criminal case.
In addition, the umbrella of federal crimes is enormous. They are generally broken into large groups, such as environmental crimes, white-collar crimes, sex crimes, drug crimes and others. As you look for an attorney, you will notice that many professionals specialize in one or a few of these groups. However, even those with a meaningful specialization may not have the skills necessary to be effective for your case. Consider, for example, that white-collar crimes span from political corruption and bribery to lending fraud, wire fraud and more. A defense attorney may have worked on many other white-collar crimes cases, but he or she may not have experience relevant to your case. With this in mind, both online research and a consultation are essential so that you can determine which attorneys have the most relevant experience.
Request an Initial Consultation Today
The legal team at Spodek Law Group is happy to meet with you and to learn more about your federal case through a complimentary initial consultation. We bring more than 50 years of combined federal legal expertise to the table, and we take pride in the high level of attention we give to each client. Set up your consultation by calling or emailing Spodek Law Group today.