If you’ve been accused of committing a federal crime, you probably have many questions and concerns. Federal crimes can be anything from drug charges to white collar crimes. As you may already be aware, federal courts and the criminal proceedings operate much differently than their state criminal counterparts. An attorney that’s skilled in federal criminal defense is an absolute necessity in these matters.
The absolute first thing you should do is seek out a skilled federal criminal attorney. You’ll want to prepare questions to interview them and prepare any documentation you may have to support your case. Explaining the entire scenario and providing as much detail as possible will give them a better idea as to how they can assist you. Occasionally, they may be able to provide you with some feedback as to how the case may play out. Be certain to disclose any details that may not show you in a positive light. These things may be viewed from a completely different perspective from a legal standpoint.
The next step may be surprising to some; however, it’ll make the process much easier for most facing this type of major life event. Hiring a therapist is typically recommended for many people facing federal criminal charges. This is incredibly beneficial for sorting out your thoughts and being able to handle your emotions in a more constructive manner. Therapists are also able to help you come up with coping strategies that can be used whenever you feel a considerable amount of stress. Being thoroughly honest with the therapist is important for them to accurately understand exactly what you’re going through. A skilled therapist can get to the root cause of the issues and provide you with a diagnosis if applicable. With appropriate care, you may be able to avoid future concerns. You’ll also be able to seek other medical care if appropriate to effectively treat the condition.
The federal criminal process differs greatly from state level cases. The process tends to be much more complex and hiring an attorney with federal level experience is strongly advised. The order of events and the way they’re handled and by whom also differs. The United States Department of Justice, Offices of the United States Attorneys website offers a comprehensive outline of the entire process and how it works. Click here to access their website for more information.
Attorney-client privilege is one of the biggest assets to any court case. This protects you and the attorney from disclosing any information that falls under this designation. After you’ve been notified of an investigation or charges being filed against you, it’s important that you mark all documents clearly at the top with this designation. This way, any information that’s requested of you after the proceedings are underway will be protected information. While there are specifics and limitations that your attorney will review with you, it’s a protective step you can take on your own. Attorney-client privilege is one of the biggest advantages in any criminal matter and especially in federal criminal cases.
If your case is high-profile in nature, it’s important that you not discuss the matters publicly and especially not with the media. As we’ve seen in the news repeatedly, things are often taken out of context and used against the individual or company being charged. Even discussing the matters with friends and family should be avoided. While it’s unlikely that most people will be subjected to extreme surveillance measures such as phone tapping, private investigators are often used in these matters. Keeping a low profile and maintaining your composure is critical during any type of investigation or criminal proceeding.
Our attorneys will be happy to discuss your case or investigation. We have helped many people beat or significantly reduce the impact of federal criminal charges. We’ll provide you with the best feedback possible and work out an arrangement that’ll provide you with the best possible defense and outcome. Get in touch with us online or by telephone, today.
Advice For People Facing Federal Criminal Charges
If you find yourself facing federal criminal charges, one of the first things that you should do is contact an attorney who can walk you through the legal process and inform you of your rights as well as possible sentences that you could face. Your attorney should be someone who can coordinate defenses regarding the crime that you committed. When you’re charged with a federal crime, you face some of the most serious sentences possible. Whether you know that you’re innocent or guilty of the crime, you will likely face intense stress that can begin to impact your relationships and other aspects of your life. Most of the time, you will stay in jail until your trial if you are charged with a federal crime. This is a time when you need to think about the actions that you committed and how you can change this area of your life. It is not just the city that you live in or even the state that you live in that has said that you’ve committed a crime. The federal government has made the decision to charge you.
Try not to let the laws get the upper hand. You have a right to give details about the crime that you are charged with, and if you know that you’re innocent, then you need to be able to present evidence that supports this information. When you’re charged with a federal crime, then the officers might think that they can bully you into giving information about yourself or about other people, especially if they have been watching someone you know and are trying to gather enough evidence against that person. You should also avoid being talked into accepting any kind of plea deal until you talk to your attorney. Sometimes, the prosecution will try to make it seem like a plea deal would be the best option that you have and that if you don’t accept the deal, then you would go to prison for numerous years. Your attorney will be able to help you decide whether you should accept a plea or if you should fight the charges against you in court after reviewing the evidence against you.
After being charged with a federal crime, you need to think before you act or talk. You need to play your routine in a safe manner instead of jumping to conclusions. This is usually what the prosecution wants you to do and often suspects that you don’t have an attorney and don’t know anything about the law. If you research the crimes that you’re charged with and understand what the prosecution can and can’t do in court, then you’ll be in a better position to stand up for yourself when you go to court. The prosecution might seem like they are looking out for you, but they are only looking out for the federal government and protecting the justice system. The only thing that the prosecution wants to do is get people in and out of the courtroom and to get people sentenced who have committed crimes.
At times, you could be offered immunity if you accept a plea deal or if you accept an arrangement that is offered by the prosecution, but there is no guarantee that you’ll receive complete immunity. Try to find some way that you can deal with the stress that you face. Write about the details of your charges in a journal. If there are other people involved in the crime that you’re charged with, then talk to your attorney about these people to try to determine the best way to approach the prosecution about a deal or immunity.
Here at our law firm, we have often received the question of how someone can know when they have come under a federal investigation. You have a couple of telltale signs that you might be under federal investigation and following these things can help you to understand if the federal government has chosen to investigate you.
What to Avoid When under Investigation?
If you discover that you are being investigated by the federal government, you have a couple of different things that you shouldn’t do to protect yourself. First, outside of speaking with your lawyer, you shouldn’t speak with other people about the investigation because they could later try to charge you with obstruction of justice as well. This happens if you try to tell them to remember it slightly differently from how it was or anything of this nature.
Second, you shouldn’t tell other people because law enforcement could subpoena them, which means that they would go and speak with them. Whatever you might have said to them could be used against you in the court of law. This can be harmful to your case. Never destroy any types of documents either because the government could find this out and use it against you. As the saying goes, in some cases, you’re better off leaving it as is because the coverup can get you into much worse trouble than if you had left it.
Knocking on the Door
In most cases, people learn that they have come under the eyes of a federal investigation when law enforcement begins pounding on their door and asks to speak with them. This becomes the most obvious way of telling. They will identify themselves as federal agents and request to speak with you. We don’t recommend that you speak with them in most cases. Beware, they will try to pressure you into speaking with them. They will go easy on you if you cooperate, but you don’t want to tell them things that could be used against you. You have to ask yourself, “Is the person looking out for my best interests or are they looking out for theirs?” In many cases, they’re looking out for their own and trying to build a case against you. You might be better off staying quiet in these cases because even lying to them could be used against you in the court of law. While they can lie to you, you can’t lie to them.
Subpoena Your Records
Let’s say that you own a business that the federal government has decided to investigate. To look deeper into it, they might subpoena your records. You have to especially exercise caution here because even if what they find could get you into trouble, you have to remember that in many cases, trying to cover it up can get you into more trouble than simply allowing them to see what is going on.
Have the Feds Chosen You for a Target Letter?
In some cases, the federal government will send out a target letter that lets you know that they’d like to speak with you about something. They will tell you that you have become the target of an investigation. In the letter, many times they will have an invite about getting you to come in and speak with the federal prosecutor about what happened. In these cases, our lawyers would highly advise against this. Why have they requested that you come in? They want to make their case easier against you. They don’t care that you’re cooperating with them. At the end of the day, the prosecutor will be the one who helps to send you to prison—these people are not your friends—so we highly advise that you speak with a lawyer first before agreeing to this letter and make sure that you won’t further incriminate yourself by speaking with them.
If you have come under the eyes of a federal investigation, we would highly advise that you speak with a lawyer well-versed in this field of law. You want to make sure that you don’t say anything to the feds that could incriminate yourself and make the case against you worse. You have a right called the fifth amendment which allows you to remain silent and not say anything that could be used against you in court.
Targets, Subjects, And Witnesses In Federal Investigations
If you learn that you may be involved somehow in a federal investigation, you should exercise caution. Most people involved in federal investigations fear that they are the ones under investigation, but this isn’t always the case. Whether you’re worried that you did something illegal or you are are under the impression the investigation isn’t targeting you, the best way to proceed is to contact an attorney.
Regardless of what situation you may or may not be in, all individuals that are involved in a federal criminal investigation play one of three roles: the target, the witness, or the subject.
Understanding Your Role in a Federal Investigation
Once you have retained an attorney, it is up to them to ascertain your status in the investigation. Your attorney will speak with the prosecutor in charge of the investigation to determine what your role is.
Each role in a federal investigation will require different things from you:
Once you learn what role you pay in an investigation, your attorney will be able to better proceed in assisting you.
If You’re a Target
If you’re a target, you are in the hot seat. At this point, you’ve likely received a target letter informing you of the pending penalties. However, once you learn of your status as a target, this doesn’t guarantee that you will also learn all the information that the prosecutor has on you.
Once you’ve been selected as a target, it is clear that the grand jury or the prosecutor has enough evidence to link you to a crime. As a target in the investigation, you’ll likely have an idea of why you are being investigated. It is important to share everything you know with your attorney so that they will better be able to protect you in the investigation.
If You’re a Subject
If you have been tied to the criminal activity, you will be classified as a subject in the investigation. This classification is typically the case if the prosecutor can’t yet consider you a target, but has enough evidence to suggest that you have been involved in the criminal activity in some way.
While you may start the investigation off as a subject, you could become a target. similarly, you also may become a witness if it is found that you did nothing wrong. As a subject, you shouldn’t take this status for granted. Be sure to contact a federal criminal attorney to ensure that you are protected during the investigation.
If You’re a Witness
As a witness in a federal investigation, you have information that the prosecutor deems relevant. This might mean that you witnessed a crime or that your testimony can help prove the innocence or guilt of someone else. While being a witness is certainly better than being a target or subject, it is not a role to be taken lightly. If you are a witness, you still need legal counsel.
Retaining a lawyer is your legal right and will help to ensure that the investigation continues to progress in your favor. In certain situations, a witness can become a subject or target if the prosecutor believes that they were somehow involved with the crime.
If you summoned by the federal court, chances are that you are either under investigation or being charged for federal criminal offenses. Pleading guilty should not be an option. It is the work of the prosecution team to level sufficient evidence against you in the federal courts. Before appearing for a court proceeding it vital that you consider legal representation. Having a skillful lawyer on your side will put you on a better position to prove your innocence. However, most people are not aware on how to go about hiring an attorney. This article will seek to provide you with an insight into how to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Well, there is no one particular rule that governs the process of hiring a defense lawyer. However, there are a few things to check before narrowing down to a specific lawyer. These points will assist you to evaluate and weigh your options with regard to your case.
It is in your power to:
• Get a field fit lawyer
It is essential for you to get the right lawyer for your defense in the federal courts. Always make sure you do extensive research on the kind of criminal charges you are or likely to face. Information search should always be done on reputable sources. You can visit the State Bar Website, referrals from friends and relatives, libraries and the internet. Here you can easily find a list of certified criminal defense lawyers. Always make sure that you choose a lawyer who suits your cases. Most importantly go for the specialized lawyer who is conversant with your case. For example, do not go for a labor lawyer to represent you in a criminal court. Chances are that you will lose the case.
Equally, do not get too specific. What really matters here is to establish whether the lawyer in question has experience with the court procedures that you are likely to go through. This, however, does not guarantee a good lawyer for you. What counts most is to examine whether the choice you lawyer knows what he/ she is doing and what should be done in the federal courts.
• Be cautious and run background checks
Do not hire an idiot! He/ she will most likely ruin your case. Do not be attracted to eye-catching advert and promises. It is your duty to dig deep and establish the background of the lawyer you intend to hire. It is quite unfortunate to say, but most lawyers are successful because of the relationships they have with other lawyers in their field. That means that the success they have achieved is not built on solid grounds. Before hiring, always make sure you run a background check. Find out which law school she attended, establish his/her accomplishments not only as a lawyer but in other fields, and has he/ she published and law-related materials? These are some of the statement that can guide you to know more about your lawyer.
You should not consider a single aspect. In some instances, some good lawyers have attended less reputable institutions while the vice-versa is true. It is crucial that consider all the available information before finalizing on the hiring deal.
• Get a strong communicator
Use your judgment to establish the communicating ability of the lawyer in question. Professionally, any good lawyer should be able to articulate his point clearly. Get someone who can help you understand what is really going on in the court. Apart from oral communication, check on what the lawyer has written. Does his material make sense to you? You can quickly evaluate his verbal communication skills when you talk to and most importantly how he responds to questions.
Usually, criminal lawyers are damn expensive. A good lawyer will cost you a six-figure digit. That kind of money may be a burden to most people. In the event that you cannot acquire that kind of money, all is not lost. The federal public defender’s office could be your next best option. All you need is to search on the internet “federal public defender” that within your jurisdiction. The federal public defender offices are home to some of the most excellent criminal lawyers.
The federal public defender’s office will only adhere to your request only if you are close to being charged or you are already charged. This is a better option than walking into the federal courts with a cheap and inexperienced lawyer.
Always consider the voice inside you. If your inner being feels uncomfortable hiring a particular lawyer do not go ahead to hire him/ her. Remember that the lawyer will be part and parcel of your life as long as the charges are still standing. He/she ultimate key to your freedom, your family, your career and most importantly your future.
In order to be charged with a federal crime, the federal government needs to be involved. Local law enforcement will combine forces with the U.S. attorney’s office to provide a burden of proof against you. If they have sufficient evidence and support for the charge of a federal crime, you will be notified. How you are notified will depend on your situation. If federal agents or the FBI identify themselves, arrest you, and bring you before the judge, it is clear that you are being charged at the federal level.
You May Receive a Letter from a Federal Prosecutor
In some cases, the federal prosecutor will inform you that you are being charged with a crime. You or your attorney will be sent documentation, including a court date in a federal court and an explanation of the charges against you. This explanation can come in the form of a criminal complaint or an indictment.
You May be Charged without Your Knowledge
Federal investigators must go through an involved legal process before they can make charges against you. Once they have successfully completed their investigation and have adequate proof, they can work with federal prosecutors to present your case before a grand jury. The grand jury can indict you. At that point, the prosecutors can request that your indictment is sealed by the judge. When this occurs, you will have no warning that you will soon be under arrest.
Does a Search Warrant Mean You Have Been Charged with a Federal Crime?
Federal law investigators may arrive at your business or home with a search warrant, granting them access to the property. They will be allowed to search the premises for any evidence that may incriminate you. This does not mean that you have already been charged with a crime. A federal judge has granted them permission to perform a search because they showed probable cause. In other words, they have good reason to believe you have committed a crime. They are looking for anything that will support their case. If they find any evidence during their search, it is likely that you are going to be charged with a federal crime.
Should You Talk with Federal Investigators?
In some cases, federal investigators may approach you before performing a search warrant. They may ask questions and advise you to speak with them in your own best interests. If this happens to you, you should request that all communication goes through your attorney. If you don’t have attorney, it’s time to find one to represent you. You should not speak with federal investigators without adequate preparation. Otherwise, you could incriminate yourself. You don’t want to give them any more information that can be used against you.
Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer You Trust
If you have been charged with a federal crime or you are under investigation by federal law officials, you need to find a criminal defense lawyer. You should choose a lawyer who has a wealth of experience dealing with your type of case. Whether you are being charged or suspected of drug trafficking, health care fraud, or embezzlement, you need an attorney who has successfully represented others with similar charges. Your lawyer will be your advocate, determining if the 4th, 5th, or 6th Amendments have been violated. If federal investigators have expert witnesses who will be testifying against you, your attorney should be adept at cross-examination. Your criminal defense attorney will also be looking for an expert who will represent your interests. You need to have a positive attorney client relationship as well. Your attorney should give you confidence that you are being represented fairly in a court of law. Choosing the right attorney for your case can help you to reduce the penalty for your crime. Your attorney may be able to help you to win your case. If not, you may have a shorter sentence.
Many individuals who are facing criminal charges are willing to provide information for authorities in exchange for a case dismissal or lighter sentence. This action is possible in the federal court system just as in a state system, but the method in which cooperation is handled is significantly different. State officials are often more willing to agree to a charge dismissal than federal officials because crimes tend to be much more serious at the federal level. Regardless of degree of involvement, federal cases are usually very detailed and law enforcement officers are more diligent and comprehensive when investigating criminal activity. Even knowledge of a crime can justify a conviction in a complicity charge in some situations. However, cooperating with the government is more common than many defendants realize, and it can often help a federal criminal defense attorney negotiate a feasible plea bargain with the U.S. attorney.
Providing Critical Information
One method of cooperating with the government is merely providing information that investigation officers will use to build the case against an entire ring of criminal actors. This process can be done before even negotiating the case in any manner, but it is important to not say anything that would be self-incriminating. Law enforcement officers mean it when they say everything you say can be held against you. This is the most desirable involvement with authorities when attempting to avoid a criminal conviction because it is relatively more safe than being involved physically in an investigation. It is important to note than this is a very risky undertaking for those caught in the middle of serious criminal activity and should not be taken lightly.
Working with Police
Individuals who cooperate with the government within an investigation are often required to provide a lure for certain individuals that the authorities really want to catch. Many defendants are typically requested to wear a wire or something that will allow the investigating officers to monitor what is transpiring and possibly move in at some point. This is a step that most prosecutors do not really want to take if there is a better method of obtaining evidence because anything can happen in this scenario and officers cannot always provide protection. Because of the dangers involved, this should only be offered in cases where the prosecutor is offering a full dismissal of all charges.
Case Dismissals are Not Common
Cases where prosecutors are willing to totally dismiss charges against an informant are rare in federal cases. More often than not the prosecutor will want a guilty plea before agreeing to using the defendant in an investigation or have them testify in a full trial in an effort to solidify another prosecution. The consideration for cooperation will typically be applied in the sentencing phase or can be used as evidence in a trial when the defendant’s legal counsel thinks they can win an acquittal. This case outcome is not as common as many defendants think, and information regarding involvement in the criminal investigation can still be part of the official record unless defendant legal representatives have the connection records expunged when possible.
The final phase of a criminal case is sentencing following conviction, which is normally where cooperation is evaluated and applied to the case disposition. Probation is a regular result of cooperating with the government when a guilty plea has been entered and accepted, but it is not guaranteed because the judge still has official input. Reduced or suspended sentences are also rare at the federal level unless the charge is also reduced because federal sentencing guidelines are very strict. It is actually important to have a written agreement between the defendant and U.S. attorney beforehand whenever possible.
Do I have To Talk To A Federal Grand Jury?
Being summoned to speak in front of a federal grand jury can be quite an intimidating event in its own right. Thinking about the actual testimony that you are about to be asked to give can be downright frightening. You might wonder if you are even required to speak with a federal grand jury. The answer in most in situations is yes, you are. This is because the federal grand jury has the right to hear from you if they believe that you have some information that they need in order to make an informed decision. That being said, there are some exceptions to you having to testify. If your testimony can, for example, implicate you in a crime then you are allowed to invoke the 5th Amendment. In such a situation, you will not likely be forced to answer the questions. There are some other exceptions to this as well, but in general, you will need to talk to a federal grand jury when asked.
No Interviews Prior to the Grand Jury
If you have been summoned to speak to a grand jury, you are under no obligation to speak to the government ahead of time. In fact, you are advised not to. Some attorneys for the U.S. government will try to trick individuals into having an interview with federal agents prior to a grand jury convening. You do not need to oblige. You may even receive a letter asking you to show up for the proceedings an hour or two early. This would be so that you can be met by a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Do not do it. You may end up saying something that you will later regret, particularly if it contradicts with something you later say in front of the grand jury.
Even lying to a government agent during a pre-grand jury interview is against federal law. Since such interviews are not recorded, your words could be misconstrued and misrepresented by the agents. However, grand jury sessions are recorded so that there will be no question as to what you have said.
Understand the Notion of Grand Jury Secrecy
It is important to know about Rule 6(e). This is a part of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that dictates that grand jury proceedings are to be kept a secret. This means that what you say in the courtroom is not to be repeated. Violations can result in sanctions being imposed upon the individual, or even charges of criminal contempt being bought against a prosecutor.
The other part of this rule dictates that, as a witness, you are free to tell anyone you want about your testimony after the fact. Of course, this is not usually advisable. You will want to keep your testimony quiet in most cases. Some federal prosecutors will even go so far as to tell you that you are not permitted to discuss the grand jury proceedings and any testimony that you give. Do not be bullied by this. You can have your own attorney respond to such a request, as non-non-disclosure should not be an option. You should retain the right to discuss any of the proceedings if you so desire.
Allow Your Attorney To Receive the Subpoena
As mentioned, chances are good that you will have to speak to the federal grand jury if you are summoned. This means that you will need to receive a subpoena in order to do so. Most people are embarrassed by this process, as it might mean that you are served at work. However, you can avoid this by having the FBI agents or other representatives of the prosecutor’s office serve the subpoena to your attorney. If the agents end up serving you anyway, refuse to answer any of their questions and refer them back to your lawyer. This is the best way to go about the issue.
These are just some general guidelines to follow when being asked to testify in front of the grand jury. Remember that you have the right to not incriminate yourself. If you think that you will, consult with an attorney to determine how best to proceed.
Should You Talk To Federal Law Enforcement?
If law enforcement comes knocking on your door, you might think that you have to answer their questions. Knowing whether you should talk to federal law enforcement can mean the difference between going about your business and facing serious federal charges. When law enforcement asks to speak with you, it can be hard to know how to handle it. Should you talk to federal law enforcement? Here’s what you should know about interacting with law enforcement.
Is it a good idea to talk to federal law enforcement?
As a general rule, you should not talk to federal law enforcement. You might think that talking with law enforcement can clear up misconceptions and prevent you from facing federal charges, but law enforcement rarely ends a criminal investigation based on a statement from a suspect. The best plan is to politely but firmly decline to speak to law enforcement and request assistance from an attorney. Your attorney can help you respond appropriately or exercise your right to remain silent.
Federal laws are complex
There are many federal laws. Most people know very little about what federal laws exist. You may think that you haven’t violated any laws, but there are laws that you may not be aware of. Something that you say that you think is helpful to your situation can end up being the thing that law enforcement uses against you. Your best bet is not to make assumptions about the law and refrain from talking to law enforcement until you can work with an attorney.
Talking to law enforcement may prompt a mistake
Witnesses aren’t always truthful or accurate. They can be dishonest and they can be mistaken. If you tell law enforcement that you were in a certain place at a certain time, you might be unwittingly putting yourself at the scene of a crime. Unfortunately, there are coincidences in life, and coincidences can occur in the law enforcement world.
Law enforcement may not carefully evaluate what you claim. They may not care to look into the details or nuances that you tell them. In addition, a witness may provide information that isn’t accurate. Witnesses may have reasons that they don’t tell the truth. In addition, they may not have an accurate perception of what they see or hear. When you talk to law enforcement, it can confuse them and throw them off the path of determining the truth. You should not talk to law enforcement in order to avoid confusion.
Law enforcement doesn’t have to be honest when they talk to you
Even though you might think that law enforcement officers have a duty to be honest with the people they serve, the truth is that law enforcement officers can lie during their investigations. If they think it is going to prompt you to make a confession, law enforcement officers may be dishonest. They may mislead you in hopes that you’re going to offer additional information in order to try and clear up the confusion.
Remember that when you talk to law enforcement, you’re talking to trained interrogators. Law enforcement officers have training in how to get people to confess to crimes. They know tactics to make you question what you know to be true. Law enforcement may care about getting you to confess more than they care about determining the truth. As soon as you tell law enforcement that you want the help of an attorney, they must stop the interview.
Your constitutional right to remain silent
Your right to remain silent comes from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment says that a person has the right to refuse to make statements that are self-incriminating. In the U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, the Court explained what the Fifth Amendment means. When you’re placed under arrest, you have the right to the assistance of legal counsel. You may refuse to make statements.
When you speak to the police, they may try to admit your statements in court. Of course, they may try to take your statements out of context, and they might paraphrase what you say without recording it. You should not talk to law enforcement without the assistance of an attorney. If it’s ever appropriate to speak with law enforcement, an experienced lawyer can help you determine how best to go about approaching the interaction and protect your rights.
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