When you are involved in the federal criminal system, there are many steps involved that you might experience. As you will find, with federal crimes, there are many differences in the steps that occur compared to the state criminal process. These include the following:
- Titles of people involved, as state cases are brought by the prosecutor or district attorney, and federal cases are brought by United States Attorneys
- Federal magistrate judges do not usually decide cases, even though they are involved in them
- It is a requirement to use grand juries in federal cases
Steps in Federal Criminal Matters
There are several steps that take place in the federal criminal system. However, you should note that some cases may be a bit simpler than others.
Investigation: The Federal Government uses various agencies as a way to have investigators collect and provide information to attorneys. Some of these agencies include the most common such as the FBI and DEA. By obtaining evidence, they can better understand the details of a case.
Charging: Once the prosecutor takes a look at the evidence, they will decide to present the case to the grand jury or not. The grand jury will discuss whether or not there is enough evidence to charge the person with a crime.
Initial Hearing: An initial hearing will take place so that the defendant knows what rights they have and what charges are taking place against them.
Discovery: Discovery involves speaking to witnesses who may be helpful in the case. People may have important information about the crime or the defendant in question. From there, the prosecutor will talk with various witnesses and help them decide who should appear in court. Prosecutors must also be forward about all the materials and evidence that they intend to use in trial, which is a huge part of the discovery process.
Plea Bargain: Sometimes, the Federal Government may offer a defendant a plea deal so that they can help avoid trial. They must admit to doing the crime in front of a judge.
Preliminary Hearing: When a not guilty plea has been entered, a preliminary hearing will take place. A defendant can choose to waive it if it is not mandatory.
Pre-Trial Motions: Before the trial, the motions could be filed. These are applications made to the court to request that the court makes a decision on certain issues before trial begins, such as a motion to dismiss or a motion to suppress evidence.
Trial: The prosecutor will get ready for the biggest job, which is presenting facts to a jury and deciding if a defendant is guilty or not guilty. There will be a jury selection process, opening statements, witness examination, closing arguments, and so much more to bring in a final verdict on the case.
Post-Trial Motions: If the defendant is convicted, many types of motions could be filed including a motion for a new trial, motion for judgment of acquittal, and a motion to vacate or set aside the sentence.
Sentencing: After the defendant is found guilty, sentencing will occur. The judge may consider other aggravating factors in the case and take a close look at the circumstances.
Appeal: A defendant can still appeal if they believe that the sentence was too harsh or wrong. If errors happened at trial, this will be a second chance for the defendant in some cases.
If you have been arrested for a federal crime, you may wonder what options you have or what you are facing. Luckily, we are here for you in your dire time of need. Call us today at The Law Offices of Peter Blair for more information.