Federal Court Arrest vs. State Court Arrest

Criminal law in the U.S. is divided between the states and federal government. When an offense is illegal by federal law, or the offense happens on federal property, the offense is considered a federal crime. If you have been accused of a crime that does not fall under Florida law or local law, but is illegal under federal legislation, it is likely that you will be charged with a federal offense. Some common examples of federal crimes the Law Office of Edward Salantrie, ESQ. PLLC handles are as follows:

 

General Overview of the Federal Court Process

Arrest

Depending on the circumstance, you may already have been aware of an on-going Federal criminal investigation; an FBI agent came to speak with you, or maybe the FBI has a warrant to search your home or place of business. If this is the case, it’s imperative that you reach out to a skilled Federal Criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are being protected. While an arrest has not been made at this point, the Federal law enforcement is trying to establish a probable cause for the crime, as well as looking for incriminating evidence.

A Federal court case does not officially begin until charges are filed in federal district court by a federal prosecutor. If you are arrested — you have the right to remain silent. Do not speak to law enforcement until you have spoken to your federal criminal defense lawyer.

Initial Appearance

The first time you are in front of court is called an Initial Appearance. The Initial Appearance is supposed to happen within 48 hours of the arrest, and you will stand before a Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judge will decided whether you are able to be released from custody.  The Initial Appearance is often very brief; you will receive a copy of your charges, and the Magistrate Judge will read those charges allowed to the open court. The Magistrate Judge will then inform you of your release conditions, which will include any bond.

Detention Hearing

At the Initial Appearance, a federal prosecutor will be present. If the federal prosecutor asks that you be detained, then a Detention Hearing will be held within three days of the Initial Appearance. At the hearing, evidence will be presented to the Magistrate Judge, and the judge will determine whether you will continue to be detained, or if you will be released pending trial.

Indictment or Information

A criminal case formally begins with an indictment or information, which is a formal accusation that a person committed a crime. An indictment may be obtained when a lawyer for the executive branch of the U.S. government–the U.S. attorney or an assistant U.S. attorney, also referred to as the prosecutor–presents evidence to a federal grand jury that, according to the government, indicates a person committed a crime. The U.S. attorney tries to convince the grand jury that there is enough evidence to show that the person probably committed the crime and should be formally accused of it. If the grand jury agrees, it issues an indictment. After the indictment is issued, the accused person (the defendant) is either summoned to court or arrested (if not already under arrest), depending on the severity of the crime.

A grand jury is different from a trial jury, or petit jury. A grand jury determines whether the person may be tried for a crime; a petit jury listens to the evidence presented at the trial and determines whether the defendant is guilty of the charge. Petit is the French word for “small”; petit juries usually consist of twelve jurors in criminal cases. Grand is the French word for “large”; grand juries have from sixteen to twenty-three jurors.

Grand jury indictments are most often used for felonies, which are the more serious crimes, such as bank robberies or sales of illegal drugs. Grand jury indictments are not usually necessary to prosecute less serious crimes, called misdemeanors, and are not necessary for all felonies. For these crimes, the U.S. attorney issues an information, which takes the place of an indictment. An example of a federal misdemeanor is speeding on a highway in a national park. An information may also be used when a defendant waives indictment by a grand jury.

Grand Jury Representation

If you have received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury as a witness or a target of indictment, Edward G Salantrie is ready to provide experienced representation. If you have received a subpoena for documents, the mere act of providing them without proper representation may cause you to forfeit you 5th Amendment right against self- incrimination. Representation is available for grand jury representation in the U.S. District Courts throughout Florida and the United States.

Arraignment

After the grand jury issues the indictment, the accused person (the defendant) is summoned to court or arrested (if not already under arrest). The next step is an arraignment, a proceeding in which the defendant is brought before a judge, told of the charges he or she is accused of, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If the defendant’s plea is guilty, a time is set for the defendant to return to court to be sentenced. If the defendant pleads “not guilty,” a time is set for the trial. A defendant may also enter a plea bargain with the prosecution–usually by agreeing to plead guilty to some but not all of the charges or to a lesser charge, in return for which the prosecution agrees to drop the remaining charges. About nine out of ten defendants in criminal cases plead guilty.

Investigation

In the investigation phase of a criminal case, a defense lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation before trial, interviewing witnesses, visiting the scene of the crime, and examining any physical evidence. An important part of this investigation is determining whether the evidence the government plans to use to prove its case was obtained legally. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids unreasonable searches and seizures. To enforce this protection, the Supreme Court has decided that for most purposes, illegally seized evidence cannot be used at trial. For example, if the police seize evidence from a defendant’s home without a search warrant, the lawyer for the defendant can ask the court to exclude the evidence from use at trial. The court then holds a hearing to determine whether the search was unreasonable under the circumstances. If the court rules that key evidence was seized illegally and therefore cannot be used, the government often drops the charges against the defendant.

Trial

If there is no plea disposition reached, your case will move to trial. Before trial, Federal Crimes attorney Edward G Salantrie will obtain “discovery”. Obtaining discover means that your federal criminal defense attorney will receive any documents, recordings, and statements that are relevant to your case. A week before your case, your attorney will also receive “Jencks material,” which usually is made up of prior statements of the government witnesses that will testify in trial. Using this information, Edward G Salantrie will build a strong case in your defense.

Sentencing

If you decide to plead guilty, there will be no trial — instead the court will order a sentencing date. This is often considered the most important appearance in a criminal case, as it’s when your sentence is decided.

How can a Federal Arrest Court Attorney Help

When going through federal court proceedings, it is vital to your case to be represented by a federal criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with all federal rules of evidence, criminal and trial procedure, and is skilled at what they do. Edward G Salantrie has an extensive background in federal criminal law, and has helped many facing similar charges as you. A supportive, aggressive federal crimes attorney, Edward goes the extra mile for his clients to ensure their rights are protected. Contact him today for a free initial consultation: (954) 771-7455 or (954) 523-2100