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Federal Court Process

Best Hayduk Brock > Federal Defense > Federal Court Process

The Best Federal Defense Lawyers In Chattanooga, TN

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you are probably feeling trepidation and stress. You must take federal charges seriously and vigorously defend yourself against these accusations. The federal court process can be intimidating and difficult to understand. Retaining one of the Best federal defense lawyers will answer your questions and help you understand the steps in the process and what to expect.

Arraignment/Detention Hearing

Your initial appearance is a hearing in front of a magistrate judge that must be provided quickly after your arrest. You have the right to have a federal court lawyer present for this hearing and it is often a good idea. In addition to learning the specific charges that are being made against you, the detention hearing also provides you with a determination of the amount of bail that will be ordered.

 

The judge determines whether bail is allowed and if so, the amount that must be paid. The judge will decide bail based on a number of factors including the charges against you, your criminal record and your likelihood to flee. If the judge deems you to be a danger to the community, they may deny bail. If bail is denied or you are unable to post bail, you will be remanded to the U.S. Marshals until trial.

 

You will also be required to make a plea to the charges. You may plead guilty or not guilty to the charges, but it is best to speak with an experienced federal court lawyer before the hearing so you answer properly. A guilty plea means that you agree that you committed the crimes as charged and no trial will be necessary. The judge will set a sentencing hearing date.

 

If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed along a path towards trial. Additional hearings will be necessary during which time there will be an exchange of information in the preparation for trial. A designated federal defense lawyer will be required for communication regarding these events and exchange of information.

Scheduling Order with Trial Dates

A scheduling order provides you with subsequent hearing dates along with trial dates. A number of conferences and hearings must be conducted as part of the pretrial process. The purpose of a pretrial conference is to help expedite the case and establish procedures for pretrial actions. These conferences are designed to help improve the process and ensure that parties are properly prepared for trial.

 

The judge issues a scheduling order. This order must be issued within 90 days of the complaint or 60 days after the first appearance. It can only be delayed with good cause. The order limits the time to amend pleadings, complete discovery and file motions in the case.

 

It may also include the time limit to provide disclosures, modify the extent of discovery, preserve electronically stored information and require parties to request a conference before making a request for an order regarding discovery. In addition, the scheduling order sets dates of pretrial conferences and trial. The schedule cannot be modified unless it is for good cause and the judge consents to the request.

 

The discovery process is designed to allow your attorney to learn information about the evidence that will be used against you in court. This allows your lawyer to prepare your defense in the best possible manner. In some instances, your lawyer will need to get experts to testify on your behalf or may require reports and other documents to help prove your case.

Trial or Plea Bargain

After the initial hearing, an experienced federal defense lawyer may work with the prosecutor to arrange a plea bargain. A plea deal is an arrangement that allows a defendant to plead guilty to reduced charges and penalties, sometimes in exchange for information. A plea deal may also be offered because a defendant accepts responsibility for his actions.

 

There are some benefits to accepting a plea. One of the most important benefits is that it will significantly reduce the length of time it takes to resolve the case. Additionally, accepting a guilty plea to a lesser charge means that you will likely receive a reduced sentence. The sentences for lesser crimes are lower and therefore you might be facing little or no prison time as a result.

 

In accordance with Federal rule 5k1, the government may allow a plea deal in exchange for significant information from the defendant. This information must be critical in the prosecution of another party that has committed a federal crime. This option is only available under some circumstances. The Best federal defense lawyers will review your case to determine whether this may be an option in your particular situation.

Sentencing

If you plead guilty to a federal crime or have been found guilty at trial, the next step in the case is sentencing. Sentences are determined by the judge in accordance with the U.S. Sentencing Guide Manual as well as sentencing tables. These guidelines allow judges some leeway in sentencing. The tables and manual provide judges with assistance when making considerations in sentences. The judge may review specific information in your case to determine the details of the sentence.

 

In addition, the judge will listen to arguments from both the prosecution and defense. The Best federal defense lawyers will provide evidence to try to reduce your sentence as much as possible. Some of the sentencing options include:

Probation

Fines

Retribution

Prison

A guilty defendant may receive any variation of penalties as allowed by law for the particular crime that was committed. Probation may be allowed without prison time in some circumstances. Probation generally includes some requirements that you need to meet for a specific period of time. Probation is generally less than 5 years but the length of time depends on the crime and other factors.

 

Fines are usually part of almost every sentence. The guilty party will be required to pay fines associated with the crime and may also be responsible for court costs. If the crime involved theft, the defendant may be required to pay retribution to the other party for the monetary value of the property or money that was taken.

 

Prison time is mandatory in many federal crime sentences. The length of prison time may vary greatly from as short as 6 months to longer than 20 years, depending on the specific details of the crime. Probation may also be ordered after completion of a prison sentence.

 

Probation requires you to check in with a court officer on a regular basis. There may be other conditions of probation including requiring you not to associate with convicted felons and the avoidance of the use of drugs or alcohol. Other conditions may also apply.

Pre-Trial Services Reports (PSR)

A pre-trial services report, PSR, provides details about the defendant that can be used in the sentencing phase. The PSR may be utilized in cases where a defendant pleads guilty as well as when found guilty at trial. The report offers information such as family history, ties to the community, educational background, employment history, physical, mental and emotional health, financial condition, history of substance abuse and whether the defendant accepts responsibility for his actions.

 

The report is typically made by a probation officer. The officer interviews family members and others who can provide information regarding the defendant’s life history. For instance, the officer may interview the defendant’s employer to learn more about his work history. In addition to interviews, the officer will review numerous documents and court files including financial records, educational reports and records from counselors and substance abuse treatment if applicable. The officer may also visit the home to determine whether conditions are adequate for release to this particular environment.

Post-Trial Motions

There are some motions that may be necessary after a trial is complete. These are known as post-trial motions. The most common post trial motions include a motion for a new trial, a motion for judgment of acquittal and a motion to vacate the sentence. Your attorney will file these motions if necessary. If legal mistakes were made during your trial, it may be possible to request a new trial. If a sentence is particularly harsh, you may request that the sentence be vacated. This can be done to correct a sentence that was improperly ordered.

Federal Drug Cases

Many criminal drug charges are federal offenses. Pursuant to federal law, 21 U.S.C. § 841, it is illegal to manufacture, create or distribute illegal substances. The intent to distribute is included as an offense. If a person is found to have more drugs than are typically for personal use, that person might be charged with distribution or intent to sell, federal drug charges.

 

The consequences for a federal drug conviction vary considerably based on the type of drug and the amount that was found. Sentences for those found guilty of federal drug charges may face 10 or more years in prison and fines of $10,000 or more. If serious bodily harm occurred as a result of the crime, the guilty party could face life in prison.

 

Federal drug charges are mandatory for those who possess specific amounts of drugs:

50 grams of methamphetamine

10 grams LSD

1,000 kilograms of marijuana

100 grams PCP

280 grams cocaine-based substances

400 grams N-phenyl

The penalties increase for those who are repeat offenders. For example, after a prior conviction, a guilty party could receive no less than 20 years in prison. Upon release, parties are required to be placed on supervised probation, which may last 5 years or more. During the probationary period, you are not allowed to associate with a convicted felon, take or sell drugs or commit any additional crimes.

 

Federal drug charges are serious and require immediate help from a federal crime attorney. A federal defense lawyer will immediately try to resolve your case by reviewing the situation and determining whether the evidence was gathered legally and whether the evidence is valid. In some instances, a plea bargain may be possible. Your federal defense lawyer will assist in negotiating a deal and will advise you as to your choices in the matter.

 

Conviction on federal drug charges includes strict penalties. For this reason, it is best to seek help from the Best federal defense lawyers immediately after your arrest. A federal defense lawyer will examine your case and the evidence against you to defend your rights and provide a vigorous defense.

How the Best Federal Defense Lawyers Can Help

Federal crimes are more serious than others and come with extensive and long-lasting consequences. A federal felony conviction will have a lifelong impact on you and your family. You will suffer financially and may be unable to find employment after prison. You could also have trouble getting a loan and getting into college. A convicted felon is not allowed to own a gun. You will certainly face some negative emotional effects as well.

 

It is important to contact the Best federal defense lawyers as soon as possible after your arrest on federal criminal charges. An experienced federal defense lawyer will try to have some of the charges reduced or eliminated whenever possible. Additionally, will work to try to allow bail and obtain the lowest bail allowed.

 

One of the Best federal defense lawyers will work diligently on your behalf to defend the charges against you. Evidence will be examined and a defense will be prepared. The goal is to avoid a felony conviction and to keep you out of prison. In some cases, a plea deal may be possible. The Best federal defense lawyers can negotiate with the prosecutor to try to resolve the case without going to trial. A plea arrangement may be possible when the evidence against you is weak or in situations where you can provide substantial useful information.

 

Additionally, the Best federal defense lawyers will ensure that you are treated properly throughout the process and that your right to a speedy trial is enforced. Being charged with a federal offense is often very traumatic, however, your attorney is available to guide you through the process and answer your questions along the way. If you were charged with a federal crime you need legal assistance as quickly as possible. Call Best Hayduk Brock to schedule a consultation to discuss your case today with the Best federal defense lawyers.

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