Fighting your federal criminal charges in Jacksonville is an uphill battle without an experienced federal defense attorney. In Jacksonville, they see a lot of drug trafficking cases, illegal immigration, and gun violations under the Safe Neighborhood Act. The ports of Florida are a hotbed for drug smugglers, which makes the concentration of federal agents here higher than in most of the United States.
That being said, the federal courts also prosecute other crimes that are less serious such as tax evasion, white-collar crimes, counterfeiting, credit card fraud, tax fraud, and identity theft. If you find yourself in the crosshairs of federal agents, you can bet that they want to get their money back for the time expended in your case.
Overview of the Federal Criminal Defense Process
It all begins with an investigation. The Feds are famous for going all out to profile their targets. They will move in next door, take suspects on yacht cruises, join outlaw motorcycle gangs, use dating apps to create sex stings, and produce Hollywood productions to manufacture evidence of crimes. The Feds are known for entrapping suspects and using the “ends justify the means” philosophy in securing arrests. Our law firm can look closely at their investigation methods that may or not be disclosed in full to determine their legality.
Federal agents will always confront the suspect after arrest with the charges. They will try to elicit a confession or even a partial confession that eliminates disputes over some facts. They can be coercive with the methods by using false promises of leniency for cooperation and other lies.
They may record the interviews but only use the recording if it is favorable to them. If they paraphrase what you said and ad-lib what occurred to their advantage, they will choose this instead. Our law firm will protect you from these coercive tactics and force them to back off. This makes it much harder for them to establish a case against you.
Release on Bail
Our law firm is skilled at presenting the court with mitigating factors to ensure your release on bail. You don’t want to be waiting inside the federal prison even if you think that you will do some time on the case. You have far more respect when you come to court as a free man with a stronger presumption of innocence. Being in prison can take a psychological toll and make you feel hopeless. It can also lead to encounters with confidential informants who can strengthen the case against you.
Refuting Probable Cause
In order to justify your continued prosecution, a hearing establishing probable cause must be held within 10 days of arrest. If any of the criminal elements are based on speculation or could be interpreted two equal ways, then this would be insufficient evidence as a matter of law. Our law firm can help you dismiss cases at this phase when the evidence is lacking, and you are simply a person of interest.
Discovery and Pre-Trial Motion Practice
Once probable cause is established and you are formally arraigned, we can start examining the evidence against you much closer. In many cases, the prosecutors try to manipulate the evidence by withholding key pieces of evidence. They will try to skate by without disclosing evidence by substituting it with whatever they want to say, expecting that we should simply take their word for it.
And we don’t take their word for it and want detailed hard evidence, not suppositions. Our law firm will make the specific requests for exculpatory evidence that are required to preserve the violations for appeal. Withheld exculpatory evidence is often the cause of wrongful convictions. We will also file motions to suppress evidence that is being used unlawfully against you.
Trials, Pleas, and Sentencing
If you go to trial, you need a very skilled attorney who makes all the preparations to ensure fairness. However, 97 percent of federal cases end in plea bargains that exchange leniency for a plea of guilty. The stronger your defense, the more likely the prosecutor is to come down with their penalties. If any aspects of your sentencing are discretionary, we will pull out all the stops to mitigate the penalties, in any regard, and follow with post-trial motions to preserve errors for appeals.
Jacksonville Federal Appeals Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been convicted of a federal offense, it’s a big deal. Aside from the fact that this can mean years in prison, the defendant also faces the many challenges of reintegration into society including:
- Difficulty finding steady employment
- Education obstacles
- Trouble finding housing
While that final bang of the gavel after the judge pronounces the conviction feels final, there is an option that can revive hope for the defendant. Federal criminal appeals can lead to a more desirable verdict and can be well worth the investment.
What is a Federal Criminal Appeal?
A federal criminal appeal is the opportunity for a defendant convicted of a federal crime to challenge their conviction or sentence. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a new trial. Rather, it’s a proceeding that allows the defendant to attack the judgement or order of the court on legal grounds. Just a few circumstances that could be grounds for an appeal include:
- Lack of sufficient evidence
- Inaccurate jury instructions
- False arrest
- Sentencing errors
- Juror misconduct
- Improper exclusion or admission of evidence
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
Don’t Expect a Speedy Process
Federal courts are busy. With so much going on, it can take months or even years to go through the appeals process. Each claim that’s submitted must be individually examined, and there is no technology currently available that can eliminate the need to use teams of professionals to take on each and every case. If you think you qualify for a federal criminal appeal, it’s important to understand that these cases take, on average, around a year.
You Want Your Argument Heard
In many cases, a defendant waits only to hear back that their appeal was granted or denied. It’s not required that the defendant has their day in court. While this may seem less stressful, it decreases your chances of winning the appeal.
Ideally, you want the chance to present your argument before the appellate judges. In order to achieve this, it’s critical you have a well-planned brief that presents compelling legal issues involving your case. In the event an oral argument is granted, there is typically only around 20-30 minutes to present your case. Because of all these restrictions, it’s worth the investment in an appellate lawyer who is both an excellent writer and oral advocate.
Be Prepared for a Steep Financial Investment
It isn’t cheap to file an appeal. Although costs will vary depending on the complexity of your case, you can estimate what you’ll have to pay:
- Filing fees are currently $455.
- Transcript is typically released on cost-per-page basis and can get into the thousands of dollars.
- Travel funds may be necessary for your attorney to attend oral argument.
While it isn’t cheap to file an appeal, the costs associated with the consequence of jail time and a permanent criminal record can far outweigh the investment in the appeals process.
What If There’s No Acquittal?
Ultimately, you want to be acquitted of your charges. This means all charges are dismissed, and you can move on with life as normal. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurrence.
It’s much more likely trial errors will result in a new trial. It will be held in the same district court as your original trial, and you’ll essentially have to go through the entire process again. While this sounds grueling, there are a couple of potential outcomes that make it well worth the time:
- The prosecution, for whatever reason, may choose not to try the case again.
- You may be provided with a more favorable plea offer.
- You may win your case the second time around.