The government has some leeway to be vague when it comes to how it conducts investigations. However, if it intends to charge you with a crime, it must notify you of that fact before a trial can begin. Generally speaking, if you are charged with a crime, you will also know whether the charge is a state or federal one.
You Might Have Some Idea as to What Your Being Charged With
If you commit a crime on federal land, you may correctly assume that you will face a federal charge. If you commit a crime that takes place across state lines, you may also already know that you’ll be charged at the federal level. The same is generally true if you violate immigration laws.
The Government Must Provide Detailed Information About the Charges You Face
Typically, you will be informed of the charges against you when you are taken into custody. If you are charged after being taken into custody, a judge will list the charges that you face at an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will typically be given the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Generally speaking, you’ll enter a not guilty plea unless you have entered into a deal with the prosecutor in your case.
Could You Face Both State and Federal Charges at the Same Time?
It is possible to face both state and federal charges in the same case. For instance, if you commit a crime that takes place in multiple states, each state could take legal action against you. Furthermore, the federal government may also press charges against you because the crime took place across state lines.
It’s worth noting that you can be put on trial for the same charge on both the state and federal levels. However, it’s more likely that you’ll only be tried once. Depending on the circumstances of a case, prosecutors at the state and federal levels may charge you with different crimes to increase the odds of a conviction.
Could Federal Charges Be Dropped as Part of a Plea Deal?
There is a chance that federal charges might be dropped if you plead guilty at the state level. It may also be possible to receive a lighter sentence on any federal charges that you face if you plead guilty to state or federal charges. If you have an attorney, he or she will be able to provide more information about what might happen if you accept a plea deal.
What Happens When Charges Are Dropped?
There is a chance that charges may be dropped for reasons other than accepting a plea deal. For instance, the government may discover that it lacks the evidence needed to convince a jury that you did something wrong. In some cases, an investigation may reveal that you weren’t involved in any sort of illegal activity. In the event that charges are dropped because of a lack of evidence, it’s unlikely that they will appear on your criminal record.
However, if they do, it may be possible to have them expunged. When a charge is expunged, it’s as if you were never accused of the crime to begin with, and no one will know that you were ever the target of a criminal investigation.
Consult With an Attorney Immediately
It is almost always in your best interest to consult with an attorney after being charged with a crime. This is true regardless of whether it is a local, state or federal charge, and this is also a good idea whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. In some cases, a conviction on a misdemeanor charge could result in significant prison time.
An attorney will be able to review the allegations against you and start creating a strategy to defend yourself against them. Your legal adviser will also be able to explain the difference between state and federal charges and the various penalties that you could be subject to if convicted.
It’s worth noting that anything that you say to your legal adviser is confidential, which means that no one will be privy to anything that you tell this person. Therefore, it’s generally in your best interest to provide as many details as you can to help your attorney do his or her job.
A legal adviser may be able to help ensure that charges are sealed or expunged if they are dismissed. It may also be possible to have your record sealed if you are found not guilty of a crime by a jury.
If you are charged with a crime, you will certainly know if you’re being pursued by a state or federal government agency. At a minimum, a judge will read the list of allegations against you before a trial begins. In addition, you’ll be asked if you understand the charges before you enter a plea. Finally, you can ask your attorney any questions that you may have about the crimes that you are being accused of committing at any time.
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