The Federal Criminal Process

At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney, Patrick Griffin, is not just a defense lawyer but a leading figure in federal defense in California. His prowess in defending clients in federal criminal courts is unparalleled, setting him apart from the rest.

Federal criminal defense lawyers are the shield for individuals accused of violating federal laws, which are not to be taken lightly. These laws, enacted by the United States Congress and enforced by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, or IRS, carry significant weight.

The cases are prosecuted in federal courts, such as United States District Courts or United States Courts of Appeals.

Our San Diego County federal criminal defense lawyer understands that our client’s cases are handled differently than in state courts. Federal criminal cases are governed by federal laws, rules of evidence, and procedural rules, which can differ significantly from those in state court. We deeply understand federal statutes, regulations, court procedures, and criminal process.

The Federal Criminal Process in U.S

What is the Federal Criminal Process in the United States?

All federal criminal charges are unique to the person, the crime, and multiple other factors that change the way the process unfolds for each. If you are being investigated or were arrested and charged with a federal crime, it is crucial that you contact a skilled federal criminal defense attorney in San Diego promptly to ensure your rights are protected and that you understand the charges against you.

In general terms, the federal criminal process unfolds as follows:

  • Investigation

Federal criminal cases typically begin with an investigation conducted by law enforcement agencies. These investigations may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and collecting information to determine whether a crime has been committed and who may be responsible.

  • Charges

The United States Attorney may present the case to a grand jury if the investigation uncovers evidence of a federal crime. The grand jury reviews the U.S. Attorney’s evidence and decides whether probable cause is enough to indict the defendant. If the grand jury issues an indictment, formal charges are brought against the defendant.

  • Arraignment

After being indicted, the defendant is brought before a federal magistrate or district court judge for an arraignment. The charges are read during the arraignment, and the defendant is informed of their rights. The defendant is asked to enter a plea, typically guilty or not guilty.

  • Pretrial Proceedings

Various pretrial proceedings may occur before trial, including motions hearings, where the defense and prosecution argue legal issues such as the admissibility of evidence or suppression of statements. During this phase, the parties may also engage in plea negotiations.

  • Trial

If the case proceeds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Federal criminal trials are conducted in federal district courts and typically involve a jury. However, defendants can waive their right to a jury trial and a bench trial before a judge.

  • Verdict

After hearing the evidence and arguments from both sides, the jury or judge in a bench trial deliberates and decides whether or not each charge is guilty.

  • Sentencing

A separate sentencing hearing is held to determine the appropriate punishment if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty. Sentences in federal cases can vary widely depending on the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors.

  • Appeal

The defendant can appeal the verdict or sentence to a higher court following a conviction. Appeals are based on legal errors that may have occurred during the trial or sentencing phase.

The federal criminal process can be complex, and the specific steps and procedures may vary depending on the nature of the case and other factors. Defendants have essential constitutional rights throughout the process, and our law office is here to ensure they are upheld and protected throughout their proceedings.

Contact Our San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a federal offense in California, contact our skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney to learn more about your legal rights and how we accomplish favorable outcomes for each of our client’s unique needs by calling 619-269-2131 to discuss the details of your case today.

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