How To Defend A Federal Criminal Case?
Over the course of the past twenty-five years, I’ve handled a lot of federal cases all over the nation. Just to give you a little overview of how these cases work – somebody gets indicted or arrested and they’re brought into court and the first substantive thing that’s obviously going to happen is, they’re going to be given whatever charges they are facing. They’re going to be given an opportunity to have a lawyer or they will have one appointed for them. The person will then appear in front of, typically a magistrate judge, and the probation department will run a report basically indicating whether they think that person should either be detained or whether that person could be released on some sort of conditions. It’s a little bit different than the state court where you get a bail bondsman, or somebody posts the bail for you and then you get out. In federal court, they can just detain you where you can’t get out. So obviously, you want to get an attorney from the beginning, so you can start fighting and try to get yourself out of custody while the case is pending because sometimes these cases take a long time to settle.
Once you appear before the magistrate judge, that report will typically be there from probation. A lot of times they’ll interview your family, find out what kind of equity you have in your properties and really get a feel for whether you’re a good candidate to be released. If you are a good candidate to be released, the types of things that they will do to release you is they could do what’s called a signature bond, where you basically agree to sign something saying that if I don’t show up in the future for my court dates, I’ll have to pay $25,000.00 to the government, for example. Another way they do it is they have one of your family members or friends who can show that they actually have $25,000.00 in our example, that sign the signature bond and then they’ll let you out. Another way to get out would be through a property bond. Somebody has equity – they basically sign their property over to the government for a certain amount – whether it be $50,000.00, $100,000.00, $200,000.00, and then if the person doesn’t show up for the future court dates and runs away, then obviously the government is going to be able to get the money out of that property, so, obviously, before anyone would want to put up property, they want to make sure the person’s going to show up because you don’t want to have your property sold so the government can get their money, to pay the bond. At some point after they decide how you’re going to be dealt with – as far as whether you’re going to be in or out of custody while the case is pending – they’re going to assign a judge to the case. The federal judges are tenured for life, meaning that they can just hold their position for life. So, some of that is hit and miss. Sometimes you get a judge that’s a little bit more difficult when it comes to sentencing. Other times you get a judge that’s more reasonable, and then there’s right in the middle. So really, it depends on the jurisdiction you’re in. Right from the beginning, you can get lucky or unlucky depending on which judge is assigned to your case.
Once a judge is assigned to your case, then you’re typically going to get the rules for that judge’s court. A lot of these judges do it differently. Some judges I’ve seen will have you appear fairly quickly in their court and will make the prosecutors lay out what evidence they have against you. I’ve seen this take an hour or two while the judge basically grills the prosecutor over trying to lay out what evidence they are going to proceed, and ask questions about it, challenges the evidence, and really what the judge is trying to do is trying to give everybody an idea of what the evidence is, what evidence is missing so that the case can be moved along quickly. In other words – hey, what are you missing. Don’t you have the tapes on this? You need to turn that over to the defense by this date. So, some of the judges take a pro-active role in getting their cases moved along and then they’re going to put pressure on the lawyers to move the case. While other judges really don’t get involved in that. They’ve got their rules set up and you just have to abide by their rules, otherwise, you’re going to be in a position where they are going to force you into a trial. You’ll lose the ability to file motions, so you really have to be in tune with the judge’s rules as it relates to your particular case.
Other things that can be done in a federal case are, the person can file any appropriate motions – like a search and seizure motion – if the police search the location and the person feels like they did so illegally. Sometimes, they use wire-tap evidence. Motions can be filed to say that the wire-tap was illegally obtained, and that judge did not have probable cause to issue it. Sometimes people are illegally stopped. There are all sorts of different motions that can be filed, but you’re obviously not going to file every motion in every case. You have to see what the case is all about and what the evidence is, and then you defense attorney, obviously, is going to make the decision of what to file when it comes to a federal case.
Once the motions are filed – if there are any motions – there typically is going to be a status conference date. Not in all judge’s court’s, but in most judge’s courts, and really what the judge is going to be looking for on that particular date is- all right, how are we going to proceed? Is this case going to trial? Is this case going to be resolved? Once the judge has an idea, then the dates can be set, deadlines can be set, and they can deal with their case and move it out of there. While all of this is going on, the prosecutors can certainly offer a plea agreement to the defendant, which is basically an agreement saying that here is what we would offer if you would plead to. Here’s where you’d kind of be in range-wise for your sentencing. Here’s what factors you can argue. Here’s what factors you can’t argue. A lot of times they’ll take away your right to appeal the case if you enter into a plea agreement with them, and obviously, that’s something you’re going to want to sit down with your attorney and go over the agreement, see if you think that it’s fair and then take it from there. So, if you’re able to work out a plea agreement with the government, then obviously you sign the plea agreement and your attorney will proceed to sentencing, and ultimately, the judge will be the decider of what your sentence is, but of course, there are certain parameters which are dictated by your criminal record, what’s in your plea agreement, what the charges are in the particular case. There’s a whole bunch of different factors that obviously, you’re going to want to talk about with your attorney. Another thing that could also happen in the case is that you could set the case for trial, in which case you’d be entitled to pick a jury and the jury would decide whether you’re innocent or guilty.
Federal Criminal Defense in Los Angeles
Learn the Ins-and-Outs of the Federal System
As far as federal cases go in Los Angeles, I’ve been handing them for the past twenty-five years. Los Angeles, as far as federal cases go, is known as the Central District of California, and all the federal crimes that occur in its jurisdiction surround the L.A. area and are investigated by the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security, ICE and other branches of the federal government. The federal court in downtown Los Angeles is located on First Street near Broadway. It’s a new building that was just recently finished being built in the year 2017 and all the judges have moved over to that building and are handling their cases there.
- Differences Between Federal And State Criminal Cases
- What Happens During The Initial Investigation Of A Federal Criminal Case?
- What Pre-Trial Conditions Can The Court Impose In A Federal Case?
- What Happens After The Arraignment In A Federal Case?
- What Happens At A Federal Criminal Trial?
- Can I Be Released On Bond Before Sentencing In A Federal Case?
- What Federal Criminal Cases Does Your Firm Typically Handle?
- Who Is Investigating And Prosecuting My Federal Criminal Case?
- What Is The Role Of A Grand Jury In My Federal Criminal Case?
- Why Do I Need A Federal Criminal Defense Attorney?
- Should I Accept A Plea Bargain Instead Of Going To Trial In Federal Court?
If you have a federal case in the Central District of California in downtown Los Angeles, you will start at the Roybal Building where there will be an arraignment where the charges will be alleged against you by way, typically of, an indictment. You will appear in court. You will be given a copy of the indictment and at that time you will be assigned a judge at the post-indictment arraignment and your bail will be dealt with. Either you will be detained, or you will be released on some sort of a condition. The various conditions can include a property bond, a signature bond, where somebody signs on your behalf and pay a certain money if you don’t show up to court. There’s a variety of other terms that can be imposed by a federal judge in the downtown Los Angeles court when they let you be released.
Typically, the probation department will weigh in by way of a report on whether they believe you should be detained or you should be released on some sort of conditions. That report will be prepared, given to the judge and the attorneys at the time you appear in federal court in downtown L.A., and the judge will review that report, listen to both attorney’s argument and ultimately make the final decision on whether you can be released, or you will be detained pending your case.
The Federal Criminal Judges Downtown Los Angeles
At the post-indictment arraignment, you will be assigned one of the judges. These judges are tenured for life and once you’re assigned to one of these judges, that will be your judge for the remainder of the case. At that time, you’ll either be sent to the judge’s courtroom or another date will be set in order for you to appear in the downtown L.A. court based on your federal charges or they will choose another date. The attorney will be given the court’s rules that you got assigned to and typically there will be status conference date set so the judge can check where the status is of the case and whether the case is going to proceed to trial. Additionally, there will be a trial date set where your case will be tried unless somehow it is continued, typically by way of some sort of stipulation between your attorney and the prosecutor. The federal prosecutors are called Assistant United States Attorneys and as I indicated before, are typically assisted by the FBI and other federal agencies who investigate federal offenses.
What Type of Cases can be Charged as Federal Crimes?
There’s a whole variety of criminal offenses that can be charged federally. Basically, the conduct just has to basically hit interstate commerce in some way, whether it be from state to state, whether it be by way of using the telephones, the mail – there’s a number of different ways that can establish federal jurisdiction. However, the feds do not take all cases. In fact, they take a very small percentage of cases that are filed across the country. They’re looking to deal with cases that are complicated, cost money and are difficult to prosecute that the state simply do not have the resources and manpower to prosecute. I see them prosecuting big federal drug crimes involving gangs and other RICO-type behavior. I see them prosecuting any type of large health care fraud schemes again with the sophistication that requires investigation, surveillance and the resources of the federal government to truly investigate the case. I also see them investigating child pornography because it involves the internet. They have forensic experts who go through people’s devices, whether they be phones, computers, and they are able to get through any type of technology that’s used to try to block people from downloading or seeing what a person’s been looking out. There’s a whole host of crimes that the federal prosecutors deal with, again, depending on their own policies, their own internal policies, as to whether or not they’re going to deal with a certain subject matter.
They have their own rules that they go by in deciding which cases to federally prosecute and which cases to let the states deal with. As a federal criminal defense attorney, I can appear in any federal court across the nation. Some of the courts just require that I have local counsel with me and in those courts, we retain local counsel and we work together to get the best resolution for our federal criminal defendants.
LEARN THE BEST STRATEGY TO DEFEND A FEDERAL CRIMINAL CASE
Having defended federal crimes for the past 25 years, I can tell you unequivocally that hiring the right criminal defense attorney for you and your case is crucial. Once you have your attorney narrowed down by experience and results, it is my opinion that you need a face to face meeting to really assess whether you want this particular attorney to represent you and your interests related to your federal case. With so much on the line, you need to have a true connection with your attorney and genuinely feel that they are the right person for the job. If you feel comfortable with them, then the other people in the system will as well. Your attorney’s attitude and demeanor will play a vital role in the successful resolution of your case with the judge, prosecutor and even a jury if necessary.
Preparation is another key to the defense of a federal crime. The feds usually have the advantage of having investigated a case for a number of months or even years and then they arrest the person and it is time to defend yourself. Having a federal criminal defense attorney who can quickly level the playing field makes all the difference in the world. I like to sit down and meet with my clients right from the beginning so we can decide the direction of the case from the outset, so we are not wasting our time or even making moves that are counter productive to our overall goal or even to the best result in your case. For example, if we are going to have to negotiate with the prosecutor because they have a strong case against you, then it is probably not a good idea to do or say things that will make them think that you are going to cause them problems and make their job difficult. This will likely make them defensive and put you in the worst of all positions.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL CRIMES
One major difference in a federal crime, as it relates to state offense is the serious nature of the crimes in federal cases. In other words, the federal government does usually not get involved with the prosecution of a person unless they have done something serious or to a large level. Because the federal government has more resources and investigative power then the states, they usually save these resources for the most serious of crimes. Like, for example, large drug conspiracies, sex crimes affecting children on the internet, bank robberies or more serious complicated crimes that require manpower and sophistication to crack the case.
The punishments in federal crime cases are usually much more harsher than those in state cases. For example, in big drug conspiracies involving large amounts of narcotic, there are mandatory minimum sentences that start at ten years in federal prison. All federal custody time across the nation is served at 85% percent and the judges have the ultimate power to sentence a person up to the maximum sentence of the crimes they plead to without anyone being able to stop them. Whereas in state cases, the defendant usually knows exactly what their sentence will be when they plead guilty. Needless to say, if you are being charged with a federal crime, I suggest you consult with someone who has experience with defending these type of crimes at the federal level and has a track record for success.
It is my experience that the best strategy when charges with a federal crime is to start with the end in mind. What I mean by this is that me and my clients will decide how we are going to handle the case from the beginning and stick to the plan all the way through. Of course, the strategy can change, depending on what direction the case takes. But having a plan in place from the start can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the decisions that are made as a federal cases winds its way through a sometimes unforgiving system.
Our federal criminal defense attorneys have handled thousands of federal and state cases all over Los Angeles.
Our federal attorneys are knowledgeable on all federal laws and federal courtroom procedures. Our experience and skill equip us to adequately and competently defend you if you are facing a federal crime.
Our Federal Defense Attorneys will sit down with you and educate you on how the federal criminal defense system works and we will explain to you in detail all your available options.
Federal cases are indicted after an investigation is conducted by a federal agency or federal law enforcement. The results are submitted to the Federal prosecutor’s office where a further investigation is conducted.
Most federal criminal cases are prosecuted under Title 18 (most federal crimes) or Title 21 (drug crimes) of the United States Code.
Federal crimes our Attorneys at the Hedding Law firm have handled are fraud related cases such as check fraud, bank fraud, consumer fraud, counterfeiting, credit card fraud, disability/EDD fraud, false financial statement, insider trading, insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, medicare fraud, medicaid fraud, mail fraud, mortgage fraud, online fraud, unauthorized practice of law and unemployment insurance fraud.
We have also handled cases such as extortion, conspiracy, forgery, perjury, embezzlement, federal drug charges, bribery and identity theft. We know how serious these charges are and that is why we guarantee all our clients dedicated and aggressive representation.
Federal case trials take place before U.S. District Judges and tried before a jury (unless otherwise agreed by all parties). The U.S. Attorney’s Counsel represents the government and we represent the defendant as we fight aggressively for his/her rights, freedom, and reputation.
Federal Judges are responsible for sentencing and they are required to consult the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and our Los Angeles Attorneys are well-informed about the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and any mitigating factors we may use to your benefit for you to receive a lower sentence. Although the sentencing guidelines are recognized as mandatory, they are more like advisory and as you Federal Defense Lawyer we do whatever we can to get the best results with the minimal penalties.
Our primary goal is to do everything we can to get you the most favorable results. If you or someone you know is facing a federal crime, do not waste any time and contact our Federal Defense Attorneys and set up a free face to face consultation.
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