Path of a Criminal Case: Federal

The path of a criminal case at the federal level is different than the path of criminal case at the state level in many ways.

In federal matters, the arrestee is interviewed by a probation officer immediately upon the his or her arrest. The information gathered by the probation officer during this interview is used to help the judge to determine whether the offender should be released into the community before trial. If the arrestee is released into the community before trial, the judge may subject the him or her to drug testing or home confinement to ensure that he or she appears at trial.

Next, the arrestee enters a plea to the charges brought against him or her at a hearing called an arraignment. If he or she pleads not guilty at arraignment, the judge will schedule a trial. If he or she pleads guilty, the judge may impose a sentence at that time, or, schedule a hearing to determine the sentence at a later date.

At trial, the burden of proof is on the government. In federal cases, the government is represented by and Assistant United States Attorney, or “AUSA.” The AUSA must provide evidence of the defendant’s guilt. The government must provide evidence that is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” meaning that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.

Federal criminal cases involve a limited amount of pretrial discovery to protect the offender’s constitutional rights.

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will issue a sentence dependent upon many considerations, including the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that are issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Sentences may include time in prison, a fine, or restitution to the victim. Unlike state sentences which, in California, are defined by a range of years, e.g.: 2, 3 or 5 years for a Second Degree Robbery conviction, federal sentences are expressed in months, e.g.: 21 – 27 months for an offender with a Criminal History Category IV convicted of a crime categorized as Offense Level 12

If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she is released into the community. The government may not appeal the case. Also, this person may not be charged with the same crime again in the federal court under the principle of “double jeopardy.” “Double jeopardy” stands for the concept of being tried twice for the same offense.

A federal criminal case is a very serious matter. The government is very well funded; the prosecutors are highly competent and have many fewer cases to handle than a state court prosecutor. Federal criminal defense attorneys must engage in much more written advocacy than in state court, and must be better prepared more quickly.

A federal criminal conviction can cost you a lot of money, your freedom, your job, and can have many other devastating effects on your life. Your life is important: you cannot afford to hire a cut-rate lawyer when your future is at stake.

When facing criminal charges, hiring the right lawyer is one of the most important things you can do.An effective defense can protect a person against charges in federal court.

The experienced criminal lawyers at Law Office of Doreen Boxer, Esq. can find a way to maximize our client’s outcome – from negotiating a favorable settlement to winning at trial.

With decades of criminal defense experience the attorneys at Law Office of Doreen Boxer, Esq. know how to achieve success for our clients.

As experienced criminal defense attorneys we know how best to defend our clients against the government.

Call our office for a consultation (949) 261-2700, or email us.