Criminal Process in Federal Court
Los Angeles Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
State crimes and federal crimes are different from one another due to the fact that federal crimes are not considered crimes against the state, but crimes against the United States. Federal crimes have been criminalized by the United States Congress, and the federal courts have a separate and distinct set of crimes, penalties, rules and procedures for those crimes that are prosecuted on the federal level. If you are the target of a federal criminal investigation, it's important that you understand that not only does the federal court system operate differently than the state court system, but federal prosecuting attorneys have a significant amount of experience and resources available to them to pursue a conviction as compared to attorneys at the state level.
If you are facing federal criminal charges, you are urged to contact The Law Offices of Robert M. Bernstein right away. Robert M. Bernstein is licensed to practice law in all federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Having defended individuals against federal charges all throughout the greater Los Angeles area, the state of California and the nation, he has the knowledge and experience required to handle your federal case with professional competence.
What to Expect in the Court Process
If you recently found out that you are the target of a federal investigation, then you need to contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately. It's absolutely critical that you understand that you have a constitutional right to an attorney, especially before you have any conversations with law enforcement officials. You must exercise this right even if you are entirely innocent and haven't committed a crime.
Initially, you will receive the summons, which is your official notice that a criminal case is being filed against you in federal court. You should contact an attorney immediately after you receive the summons, and you must appear in court at the time and date designated on the summons. While the courts will ensure that you have an attorney if there is a possibility that you might be put on probation or imprisoned, it's a wise idea to hire an attorney at the onset of the investigation so they can begin gathering information about your case and so they can refer you to Pre-Trial Services which recommends bond, as well s conditions for your continued release pending the final resolution of your criminal case.
The next step is the initial hearing, which you will arrive at federal court either by the summons or in the custody of federal law enforcement agents. You will be advised of the charges against you which will be in the form of a criminal complaint or an indictment which will be accompanied by an affidavit that will summarize the evidence against you. Unlike state cases where there are District Attorneys, in federal court the prosecutor is called an Assistant United States Attorney or AUSA. While your first two or three appearances will be in front of what is called a federal magistrate judge, your case will ultimately be heard by a federal district court judge.
It's the responsibility of the federal magistrate judge to advise you of the charges against you, to explain your rights, and to inform you of the longest sentence that you could possibly serve for your charge if you are found guilty. Although this sentence is known as the "statutory maximum," it's rarely the actual sentence that is given to someone. From that point forward, the magistrate judge will address the possibility of pretrial release or bail. Then, you will be remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at the conclusion of your initial hearing unless you are released.
In general, the law presumes that you should not be held in prison while you are awaiting trial, unless the judge believes that you are a danger to another person, or a danger to the community, or if the judge believes that you are a flight risk. If the judge does not feel that you are a threat to any one person, or the community and if he or she does not believe you are a flight risk, then you may be released on bond, or your own recognizance (meaning you agree to appear at your hearings), or with an unsecured bond (where the bond does not require money or assets as security).
Next you will have to attend the arraignment, in which case you will be ordered to appear in court and hear the charges that you are facing. This is the time where you will enter the plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. In most cases, it's a wise idea to plead not guilty; however, it will depend upon your individual circumstances and Mr. Bernstein can help you with this.
Going to Trial
Assuming you entered a plea of not guilty, the case will then proceed to Federal Court. At this time, both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney will have the opportunity to make each of their opening and closing statements. They will be able to present evidence and witnesses, and they will be able to cross-examine the other side's witnesses. Once each side has wrapped up their end of the argument, the jury will deliberate until they reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
During the trial, it's essential that your defense attorney know exactly what they are doing. As in anything of grave importance, your attorney's experience and successful track record will prove invaluable during the time they make opening and closing statements, and while they cross-examine witness testimony. It will be your defense attorney's responsibility to demonstrate to the jury that the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Although the burden of proof to prove your guilt is on the prosecution, the burden to prove your innocence is entirely on the shoulders of your defense attorney. For this reason, it's absolutely critical that your attorney be as knowledgeable, skilled and ingenuitive as the Assistant United States Attorney, and that your attorney be an equally formidable adversary in the courtroom.
If the jury comes to a guilty verdict, the judge must impose a sentence based off of a strict set of sentencing guidelines. With federal crimes, the judge has little discretion when it comes to altering sentences, even when he or she believes the sentence is too harsh for the crime that was committed.
As you can see, the outcome of your case relies heavily on the careful preparation and presentation put forth by your defense attorney at trial. If you disagree with your verdict, you may have the opportunity to appeal the verdict; however, this would have to be done on the basis of an error, an ethical wrongdoing or a mistake at trial, such as where you weren't given a fair trial. At the Law Offices of Robert M. Bernstein, the firm has defended all types of federal cases including: federal drug crimes, fraud,
conspiracy, obstruction of justice and many more. If you are facing federal charges, you are strongly advised to contact
attorney Robert M. Bernstein without delay!