Written by attorney Jose Juan Salayandia

What happens when one is arrested in El Paso, Texas by federal agents?

What happens when one is arrested in El Paso, Texas by federal agents?

The process is very similar for all those arrested in the Western District of Texas in El Paso, Texas. I have included a brief breakdown of what can be expected on the typical case in federal court. It is important that you seek guidance from an experienced attorney with knowledge of the federal system as soon as you can. Your loved one may certainly benefit from a fast acting attorney. Law Offices of Jose Salayandia ( is ready to visit your loved one at any local detention center once he is arrested and you have retained our services.

  • 1) Processing and Interrogation
  • 2) Detained until being taken to see a Federal Magistrate Judge
  • 3) Taken before a Federal Magistrate Judge -4) Pre-trial Services officer
  • 5) Detention/Bail and Preliminary (Probable Cause) Hearings
  • 6) Docket Call
  • 7) Re-arraignment or Trial
  • 8) Pre-Sentence Report Interview
  • 9) Pre-Sentence Report Review
  • 10) Objections/Sentencing Memo
  • 11) Sentencing

_Step 1: Processing

Once you have been arrested, you will be taken for processing and interrogation. It is at this point that the agents will likely show you a rights waiver form that will be explained quite quickly and maybe translated in a language you understand. This explanation could be done in such a way that you might not have the reasonable time to think and consider the rights you are waiving. This process is sometimes recorded. You DO NOT have to speak to federal agents. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT AND ASK FOR YOUR ATTORNEY TO BE PRESENT. If you want to speak to an attorney, you can request it at this time and the INTERROGATION must stop. Don’t worry if you are going to be detained. If you should hire the Law Offices of Jose Salayandia, an attorney will soon be coming to help you. If you hire an attorney, he or she can likely visit you at the jail that very day.

_Step 2: Detained until being taken to see a Federal Magistrate Judge

Waiting in jail to see a Federal Magistrate Judge in El Paso, Texas can be stressful. At this point, you might be visited by a Pre-Trial officer that will ask for your cooperation in preparing a pre-trial report that will be used to assess if you are a good candidate for pre-trial release. In order for you to be released from jail on bond, this pre-trial release report must be completed. It is important that you tell the truth at this point as it is the law and the pre-trial officer will likely verify the information through outside sources. The most common way of doing this is by asking a family member to confirm what you have said. The pre-trial officer will be able to see your criminal history. This step can sometimes take a couple of days. If a pre-trial officer does not speak with you at this time, he or she will likely pay you a visit after you have been taken before the Federal Magistrate Judge in El Paso, Texas.

_Step 3: Taken Before a Federal Magistrate Judge in El Paso, Texas

If this is the first time seeing a Federal Magistrate Judge in El Paso, Texas, it could be a very stressful time for you. You must remember to treat this hearing with the respect and seriousness it deserves. However, at this time, you should know that the Federal Magistrate Judge will likely only establish your identity (name, place and date of birth). Also, the Federal Magistrate Judge will likely explain the charges for which you are being detained and the possible punishments. The Magistrate Judge will also likely explain your rights so that you understand them. If you wanted to enter a plea of guilty at that time, the Federal Magistrate Judge would likely not allow you to do so because he or she would want to make sure you have an opportunity to speak with an attorney. The AUSA (federal prosecutor) will likely request a detention order be entered and that a continuance be given to prepare for that actual Detention and Probable Cause hearings.

_Step 4: Interview by Pre-Trial Officer

The Pre-Trial officer will likely come to visit you while you are detained in the El Paso County Detention center in downtown El Paso, Texas or the U.S. Marshal service will bring you to the federal courthouse to be interviewed. Please see Step 2: in the previous post to see more about the interview process. If you hire the Law Offices of Jose Salayandia (, you will likely be visited as soon as the report is prepared to review it and get ready for the Preliminary and Detention Hearings.

_Step 5: Detention/Bail and Preliminary (Probable Cause)

These hearings are an opportunity to see the strength of the government’s case against you and see what exactly the government is claiming you did. The preliminary and detention hearings are usually held at the same time and you have the right and opportunity to waive these hearings. However, it might be likely you will have these hearings if it the case you want to be released on bond. The Honorable Court uses the Bail Reform Act ( decide whether or not to allow the detained individual out on bond. For a brief explanation of the Bail Reform Act, please click HERE ( It is very important the your family is available to speak to the representative from the Law Offices of Jose Salayandia ( in order to be prepared for the hearings.

_Step 6: Docket Call

Docket call is a court hearing where the attorneys on the case, the AUSA and defense attorney, inform the Honorable Court as to the status of the case. The things the Honorable Court wants to know is whether there will be a plea of guilty or if there will be a trial. Usually, the first docket call can be passed (continued) to the next month to give the attorneys time to negotiate and review the evidence.

_Step 7: Re-araignment or Trial

This is a court hearing to enter a plea of guilty or the day the trial starts. Once you hire the Law Offices of Jose Salayandia (, an attorney will visit with you to prepare you for this hearing. If it’s a trial that you have decided on having, please click HERE ( to see a brief description of the trial process. If you have decided on entering a plea of guilty, please click HERE ( to see a brief description of the trial process.

_Step 8: Pre-Sentence Report Interview

Assuming the trial was lost or there was a plea of guilty, the Pre-Sentence Report interview is next. This is a report that the probation officer assigned to your case will prepare. They will start with a complete review of your background (criminal history, finances, etc) and then schedule a pre-sentence interview to verify or get the information relating to the client’s past. An attorney or representative from Law Offices of Jose Salayandia will be present at the interview because it is an important part of the representation. Should you have any questions, you need only request to speak to your attorney if you feel uncomfortable about any question or aspect of the interview.

_Step 9: Pre-Sentence Report Review

This is the point that Law Offices of Jose Salayandia ( will get to review your pre-sentence report and check for several things. The attorney at Law Offices of Jose Salayandia ( will ensure that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines ( are correctly calculated. We will also verify that that the information given at the pre-sentence interview matches with the information included in the pre-sentence report.

_Step 10: Objections/Sentencing Memo

Law Offices of Jose Salayandia ( will prepare a set of objections and a sentencing memorandum in support of the most lenient sentence possible. It is important that your attorney prepare a written document to ensure that the arguments in support of a lenient sentence are adequately considered by the honorable sentencing judge.

_Step 11: Sentencing

The sentencing hearing can happen as as quickly as in 6 mos to a year after having been arrested. All cases are different and only your attorney can give you a better idea of the possible time frame for your case. The Honorable Judge can do several things at the sentencing hearing. They can use a sentencing guideline departure to move your sentence range up or down. For a guideline departure, you must be given notice. Another thing the Honorable Judge can do is vary upwards or downwards from the guideline range calculated on the Pre-Sentence report. This can be done without notice. It’s important to keep in mind that the sentencing guidelines are merely advisory.

While this is the typical process, it can vary due to the agency that is arresting the individual and other factors. It is important that an attorney is hired early on to represent anyone accused of violating a federal law.

** Disclaimer **

This is not legal advice and it is not intended to replace the help and representation by a qualified attorney. This does not establish attorney/client relationship.

Additional resources provided by the author

One can find additional discussion on my blog. It is located on my website ( ). It will be updated frequently to reflect changes in law and procedure.

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