A federal agent wants to speak to you. Uh oh. That can’t be good.
Whether you’re knowingly involved in a federal case or an agent’s visit has taken you by surprise, it’s time to seek counsel.
Federal cases are vastly different from the state. If your name pops up in a federal investigation, you’ll need to know what to expect and how to proceed.
You’ll find some tips below if you find yourself facing criminal charges.
Federal Trial Expectations
Before we dive into actual tips, it’s important to understand federal trials.
Federal prosecutors are very different from state prosecutors. They tend to have fewer cases. That means they’re also less likely to accept plea bargains. You’ll need an experienced attorney to give you the best defense against them.
Federal judges use different procedures and court rules than in state court. An experienced federal attorney understands the difference and can work within those expectations.
Dismissals are not unheard of on a state level if a prosecutor isn’t 100% prepared. On a federal level, this is very rarely an option. You can be sure the prosecutor will be prepared with any necessary witnesses available.
Your trial will go on as scheduled. Be prepared with an attorney who will be ready to take your case head-on from day one.
Just like in state cases, a judge can set a monetary bail amount. In a federal case, though, that bail may have conditions on that release. Some conditions may be:
- regular check-ins with a pretrial officer
- submitting a financial review
- obtaining mental health treatment
On a state level, juries are selected from a cross-section of the county where the trial takes place.
In a federal case, the jury is selected from the district the court is in. These jurors tend to be more diverse demographically.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines is what helps a judge determine sentencing in federal cases. A good attorney can advocate for the lowest possible sentence for your circumstances.
What To Do
It’s a scary thought to be involved in a federal investigation. Below are some tips if you find yourself in this situation.
If a federal agent wants to talk to you, it’s important to know why. There is a big difference in answering questions as a witness and answering them as a target.
Agents are able to ask you as many questions as possible. However, it’s hard to answer them if you don’t know what the investigation is about.
Even when you do know what the investigation is, be very careful with your responses. Many times, an investigator will ask you a question that might hurt you later if you answer it.
It’s a good idea to have legal counsel present during questioning. They can help determine why you’re being questioned. They can also give you guidance on the appropriate times to use your Fifth Amendment rights.
Take Criminal Charges Seriously
It’s okay to cut financial corners when you’re shopping at your local market. Understand, facing criminal charges is a whole other situation.
You will want to hire the best attorney you can afford, which isn’t always cheap.
That’s not the bottom line, though. You also need to understand your lawyer will need resources to fight the charges against you.
Private investigators, expert witnesses, and other resources cost money. Many times, they’re also necessary when it comes to fighting federal charges.
Attorney fees, investigations, court reporters, experts, etc… it all adds up. It can be a financial burden. But do you know what else is? Facing a life-changing sentence, jail time, and struggling for a good career after.
Keep in mind, it’s a crime to lie to a federal agent. Always answer truthfully and straight to the point. If they find out (and they will) that you’ve been untruthful, you could face serious jail time.
You also need to be 100% honest with your attorney. Many times, criminal cases involve personal, potentially embarrassing matters.
Your attorney is there to help you. Being honest is the only way for them to get all the information they need to defend your case.
If you’re not completely honest, your case will sink like a bag of rocks. Keeping your attorney out of the loop on “insignificant” details can blindside them in court, causing them to lose credibility. It’s the quickest way to pin a guilty stamp on your forehead.
Your attorney will have a completely different point of view from you. Sure, he can view evidence, read reports, and examine a scene, but it’s not the same as your perspective.
You already know you need to be honest, but you also need to trust your lawyer when they request information. Make sure you hand over anything they ask for. If your attorney doesn’t have everything they need, the defense they worked to build will fall apart.
You and your attorney are a team. Often, they can only present the best possible defense when you trust each other.
Have A Support System
Federal cases often take a long time. Sometimes, they can take years.
Being accused of a federal crime is stressful from the moment of an arrest. Often, that stress may not even dissipate when getting a “not guilty” verdict.
Having a support system in place is essential to staying emotionally and mentally strong during that time. Make sure you stay around friends and family who support you and stand in your corner. Stay clear of those who will add more stress during the investigation and trial.
Contact An Experienced Attorney
If you find yourself facing criminal charges, contact an experienced attorney right away. Work closely with a lawyer you can trust to advocate for your rights and help guide you through this process.
Involvement in a federal crime is scary. It’s a whole lot easier when you have the right person on your side. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you during this time.