A good lawyer defends federal criminal cases brought in federal court. Most federal cases are initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in coordination with a local law enforcement agency.
While many crimes may be prosecuted on both state and federal levels, there are key differences in how these cases are handled. Federal investigations are normally conducted by agents of the United States government, such as the FBI or DEA.
Many federal cases start with a criminal complaint, which is prepared by the US Attorney’s office, usually in conjunction with the law enforcement agency that investigated the case. It is then presented to a Federal Magistrate Judge who decides whether there is probable cause that a crime was committed. This is often known as a preliminary hearing.
Federal crimes are violations of the Constitution, and federal law always overrules state law. Therefore, the only reason a state prosecutor would bring a case in federal court is that the crime violates federal law.
If you think a Judge of the Court has done something that violates the Constitution or Rules of Procedure, you can file a formal complaint with that particular Court’s Judge Advocate General or any Circuit Court of Appeals. Each circuit court has a web site that provides information about how to contact the judge’s office. Generally, you will be required to submit the complaint and supporting materials to the court in person, though recent technological advances allow for the submission of this material through reliable electronic means.
In federal cases, the prosecutor can only get an indictment (or a criminal information, for misdemeanors) after the evidence is reviewed by a grand jury. The grand jury is a body of 16 to 23 citizens from the community that hears evidence and witnesses, and decides whether there is probable cause that the accused committed a federal crime.
If the grand jury decides there is probable cause, it will issue an indictment that sets forth the charges against the defendant. It is important to remember that you are already under arrest, and the grand jury’s decision does not necessarily mean that the accused will be convicted at trial.
An accused person can challenge an indictment based on many different reasons. It is often best to have a lawyer familiar with federal case law and procedures help you with this process. Defendants who cannot afford an attorney are assigned one by the court at their Initial Appearance, upon a sworn financial affidavit.
Defendants in federal cases are often placed on pre-trial release. The terms and conditions of their release are tailored by the court based on defendants’ use of substances, mental health, employment history, and other factors. CJA’s People in Community with Pending NYC Case dashboard allows readers to view data about people who have been arrested in New York City for an offense and are on pre-trial release.
The prosecutor must establish that the defendant is not a flight risk or a danger to the community in order to secure pretrial release. This can be difficult and time consuming. One strategy an attorney may employ is to interview family members, current and former employers, friends, and acquaintances for information about the defendant’s character, employment, and ties to the community.
The criminal justice system can be complex, especially for those who have never been involved in it before. A New York City federal crime lawyer can help you understand how the process works and how it applies to your case.
During the plea bargaining process, you may be offered a deal by the prosecutor to reduce your charges or sentence in exchange for your guilty plea. This is a great way for you to avoid a trial, and it can save you time and money. You may also be able to save your future career by avoiding a criminal conviction on your record.
Plea bargaining can take place any time between arraignment and the conclusion of your case in trial. There are several different types of plea bargaining, including charge bargaining (pleads to less serious crimes), count bargaining (pleas to a subset of original charges), and sentence bargaining (agreement in advance of what you will be sentenced to).
Regardless of the type of plea bargain you agree to, it is essential that you understand the circumstances surrounding your case and all of your options before accepting or rejecting any offer. A knowledgeable NYC criminal defense trial lawyer can help you make an informed decision regarding plea bargaining.