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Federal Criminal Stages

Posted on October 29th, 2022

What are stages of a federal criminal matter?   The Assistant United States Attorney usually initiates federal crimes in a particular district by  filing either a criminal complaint or getting an Indictment returned by a grand jury against an individual or a corporation. Sometimes people are notified well before this stage that they are the subject or the target of a grand jury investigation. They are approached by federal agents such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, Postal Inspector, Customs and Border Patrol to name a few.  At this stage the agents attempt to talk to individuals to get information from them or to get them to come in and speak to the government attorneys. Being a grand jury “target” of the investigation means that you are the person the government is investigating. However you learn about the pending or potential federal charges, you should hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who residents trust immediately.  Many people are nervous and forget to invoke their rights to remain silent or to have an attorney at these early stages. According to our friends the following are the next stages in a federal criminal matter:

Then the next stage is either the initial presentment (if you are arrested on a complaint) or an arraignment if you are arrested on an indictment. At either of these stages you are advised of the charges and penalties, either appointed an attorney or given an opportunity to hire one and bail is either set or you are detained (if the court determines no bail is appropriate). If it is an initial appearance, you are also entitled to a preliminary hearing to determine that there is probable cause to arrest you. The  date of this hearing will be set by the court unless you and your attorney agree to waive it. If you are arrested on an indictment, you will enter a plea of not guilty to the charges. At either proceeding the next proceeding is typically scheduled, which could be a pretrial conference. The pretrial conference is where the parties and the court determine dates for the production of discovery (the evidence), pretrial motions, and the trial.

In the next stage the matter proceeds to trial, or you plead to the charges offered by the government, or you may be able to get the indictment dismissed by a pretrial motion. If the case continues to trial, you are either convicted, or acquitted, or there is a mistrial.  Because federal jury criminal convictions must have a unanimous jury, less than a unanimous jury is considered  a hung jury and a mistrial is called. If you plead guilty or are convicted after trial, the next step is sentencing, and the last step might include an appeal.

For federal criminal matters you need an experienced  federal criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights and protect your freedom.


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