Basically, federal grand juries decide whether or not cases are going to be filed at the federal criminal level. The prosecutors are in charge of orchestrating grand juries and they are putting on evidence in front of the grand jury to prove whatever charges they want to prove.
You, as a defendant, are not entitled to be there and you're not entitled to have your attorney there. Sometimes, people who are the targets of grand jury investigation are subpoenaed there. Obviously, at that point, you can have your attorney advise you as to how to proceed related to the grand jury investigation.
Ultimately, the grand jury is tasked with deciding whether or not charges will be filed. They evaluate evidence and they make decisions on whether or not the government has met certain burdens in order to charge somebody with certain federal crimes.
Does Police Have To Inform Me Of What I Am Being Investigated For?
The police do not have to inform you of exactly what you are being investigated for. A lot of times they lie about why they're there and they start talking about one thing so that they can kind of butter you up and then move into the real reason that they're there.
No, again, they're in the competitive business of ferreting out crimes. For them, it's part of their strategy to try and lull you into a false sense of security, put you on the spot and get you to say or do something that incriminates you.
Not only do they not have to tell you why they're there, but they can be dishonest about why they're there in an effort to get you to admit something. I've even seen them do pretext phone calls where they're having an alleged victim call their target and say a bunch of stuff and they tape record it. Obviously, you've seen stuff on TV, which is definitely true, where they will wire-tape phones.
They will have somebody go in with the wire on and have that person talk to people. Certainly, when they are there face-to-face, there is no obligation for them to tell you anything, but there's also no obligation for you to say anything.
Will Cooperating With Federal Authorities Help My Case?
This is a loaded question when it comes to federal criminal cases. Before you make any decisions about cooperating with the federal government, their agents, the prosecutors, etc., you're going to want to consult with your federal criminal criminal defense attorney and you and your criminal defense attorney are going to need to weigh the pros and cons of cooperating with the federal government.
If you do decide that it's in your interest to cooperate with them then obviously what's called a proper session will be set up where you, your attorney, the prosecutor, the agents related to the case and even sometimes agents related to other cases they are investigating that they think you might have information about will be present and then they're going to ask you questions.
You'll probably get what's called a Queen for a Day letter, which is basically an agreement between you and the government saying anything you say there cannot be used against you with some exceptions which can be explained to you by your attorney.
Whatever you say there, they won't be able to use against you. As far as whether you should cooperate or not, there are a number of different factors, like whether or not you could actually provide any substantial assistance that would benefit you down the road.
Again, that's something that you have to assess with your attorney and then your attorney talks with the government about it and then you decide whether or not going down that path is in your best interest or not.
How Do The Sentencing Guidelines Work In Federal Court?
The sentencing guidelines are basically a recommendation to the sentencing judge as to what your sentence should be based on a number of different factors. They're going to look at your criminal history.
They're going to assess the type of crime that you're charged with and whether or not there are any mitigating factors and whether or not there are any aggregating factors. There are a whole host of different things that go into a judge deciding what sentence a person should get.
The sentencing guidelines are a nationwide thing, but, again, they're advisory, meaning that the judges are simply to consult the sentencing guidelines and ultimately they're just one of the things that they evaluate in deciding whether or what your sentence should be.
Do Most Federal Criminal Charges Even Go To Trial?
As far as whether a federal criminal case is going to trial is something that you need to discuss with your chosen attorney. I would say most federal cases do not go to trial because the federal government is very sophisticated and they do a thorough investigation and they're obviously not going to want to file a case if they can't win.
That being said, it doesn't mean they're always right and that doesn't mean that they always have the other party's version of events. As we know, everything in life is subjective and there is more than meets the eye in every case.
Sometimes the truth lies in the middle and sometimes the truth the government has it completely wrong. Most federal cases do not go to trial but for the ones that do go to trial, obviously, you're going to want to be prepared and have a good criminal defense lawyer by your side. If you do make a decision to go to trial, you better have evidence on your side in order to prove that you're not guilty.
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