Introduction to a Federal Criminal Case--Things to Know as soon as possible
What an individual charged with a federal crime or being investigated for a federal crime MUST know. What is a criminal complaint, an indictment, an information? How is bond determined? What is the speedy trial act? What is a proffer and a Kastigar agreement? How to choose the right lawyer?
The first things to know when charged with a federal crime or are being investigatedOften an individual charged with a federal crime is the last person to find out. That is because investigations are typically sealed, informants not disclosed and a raid or arrest occurs when agents feel it is the best opportunity to seize property. If an agent appears at your place of work or home and starts to ask questions, it is imperative you not answer those questions without a lawyer. A lawyer can immediately begin discussing the case with the Assistant US Attorney and try to avoid or slow down the filing of the complaint. Much can be negotiated prior to an arrest and many mistakes are made. Slow things down. Explore your options. Make sure the attorney has the experience and contacts to make this happen.
What is a criminal complaint, indictment, information? How is bond determined?A federal case commences formally with the filing of a criminal complaint. This typically happens when there is an arrest and the prosecutor must file a complaint to detain the defendant. A defendant is entitled to a detention hearing (bond) and a preliminary examination. Almost always, the assistant US Attorney will dismiss the complaint prior to the examination and file either an indictment or if the parties agree, an information. These are public records explaining the charges and the overt acts. A bond hearing is held before the magistrate who must be convinced (or by stipulation) that the defendant is not a flight risk or a threat to the community. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney will seek out a pretrial recommendation or the stipulation of the prosecutor for bond and will recommend conditions that will ensure bond or a third-party custodian. Bonds for major drug offenders and terrorists even a double murder have been reached by knowing the process. No guarantees but it increases your chances.
Pre-Trial Proffers, Kastigar Agreement?After someone is charged with a federal offense, the federal criminal attorney can request a meeting with the prosecutor. This can be a proffer or a reverse proffer and allows for the opportunity to find out the strengths and weaknesses or an opportunity to provide information. A kastigar agreement must be prepared and the defense lawyer should have a good working relationship with the prosecutor. Charges can be reduced or even dismissed if these meetings are timely arranged and effectively used.