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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

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What to Expect if You Go to Trial for a Federal Crime

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 11:38 am


What to Expect if You Go to Trial for a Federal Crime

Going to trial for a federal crime can be an intimidating and stressful experience. As someone facing federal charges, it’s important to understand the process and know what to expect. This article provides a broad overview of the federal criminal trial process from start to finish, so you can be prepared.

Initial Appearance and Arraignment

After being arrested and charged, you’ll be brought before a judge for an initial appearance within 24 hours. This is when bail will be determined. Then an arraignment takes place where you are read the formal charges and enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Pleading not guilty means the case will proceed to trial. Talk to your lawyer beforehand about the best plea to enter.

Pre-Trial Motions and Discovery

In the weeks leading up to trial, your lawyer will likely file pre-trial motions objecting to evidence collection or requesting access to government documents. This is also when both sides share relevant evidence and witness lists through the discovery process.

Carefully reviewing the evidence against you and understanding the witnesses expected to testify is crucial to prepare your defense.

Selecting a Jury

Voir dire is the process of questioning and selecting jurors from the jury pool. The makeup of the jury can significantly impact the trial’s outcome, so this step is extremely important.

Both the defense and prosecution will question jurors and can request to dismiss certain individuals. After 12 main jurors are chosen, some alternates are also selected in case any jurors drop out.

Opening Statements

Once the jury is seated, the trial begins in earnest with opening statements. The prosecution presents an overview of the charges and evidence against you. Your defense lawyer follows with an opening statement laying out your overall defense theory.

Opening statements preview each side’s key arguments and evidence for the jury.

The Defense’s Case

Once prosecutors rest their case, it’s your turn. Now your lawyer calls witnesses and presents evidence to rebut the charges against you. As the defendant, you have the right to testify on your own behalf, but also the right not to.

Testifying can be risky, so discuss the pros and cons thoroughly with counsel beforehand. They may call other helpful witnesses instead.

Jury Deliberations and Verdict

The final step is jury deliberations in secret to decide your guilt or innocence. All 12 jurors must agree for a conviction or acquittal. If they report being deadlocked, the judge may declare a mistrial.

Waiting for the verdict is often extremely stressful. Stay positive and focus on preparing for any outcome along with your lawyer.

Potential Penalties if Convicted

If convicted, the penalties can be severe for federal crimes. Certain drug crimes carry 5-10 year mandatory minimums. Fraud convictions can result in 20 year sentences or more. Talk to your lawyer about likely sentences.

Your attorney may request a lower sentence at a sentencing hearing. Be prepared to present mitigating circumstances like mental health issues, addiction, or family circumstances.

Appealing a Conviction

If convicted, you can file an appeal claiming errors were made at trial. This involves complex legal arguments, so work closely with counsel. The appeals court may uphold the conviction, reverse it, or order a new trial.

Appeals must establish legal errors like improperly admitted evidence or insufficient evidence presented. Simple disagreements with the verdict are insufficient.

Consider a Plea Bargain

Because trials carry major risks, most federal cases end in plea bargains. An agreement to plead guilty in exchange for lesser charges or a lighter sentence may be wise depending on the circumstances.

Thoroughly discuss pros and cons of any plea offer with your experienced federal criminal defense lawyer before deciding.

Seek an Experienced Federal Trial Lawyer

Facing a federal criminal trial is extremely high stakes. Be sure to retain an attorney experienced specifically in federal cases. They will guide you through each stage while aggressively defending your rights.

With proper preparation and a strategic legal defense, you can achieve the best possible outcome, whether that means acquittal at trial or a favorable plea deal.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

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