The defendant will be transported to the federal court - usually in Albuquerque or Las Cruces and rarely in Santa Fe - and the charges will be explained by a US Magistrate. If the defendant requests a public defender, the court will have a clerk visit with the defendant and fill out an application and hire either a public defender or a CJA attorney
Can we hire a private attorney even after a lawyer has been appointed?
Yes. The public defender or CJA attorney was appointed by the court but can withdraw if you are able to hire a private lawyer to take the case from that point. Do not wait too long to hire someone, however, because the longer you wait, the less the private lawyer can do to make a difference in the case.
What are the consequences of a federal conviction
This question is best left to the lawyer handling the case. Federal convictions are far more serious and typically involve a term of years in the US Bureau of Prisons depending upon the defendant's criminal history and the amount of drugs involved.