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Federal Criminal Case-Process (Summary)

Federal Criminal Case Process

Navigating a federal criminal case can be complex and daunting. This page will guide you through the key stages from investigation to sentencing, ensuring you understand what to expect at each step.

1. Investigation

The process typically begins with an investigation by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, or IRS. These agencies gather evidence through surveillance, informants, search warrants, and subpoenas. During this phase:

Surveillance and Monitoring: Federal agents may monitor communications and activities.

Subpoenas and Search Warrants: Authorities may issue subpoenas for documents and obtain search warrants to gather physical evidence.

Interviews and Interrogations: Investigators may interview suspects and witnesses to gather information.

2. Charging

If the investigation yields sufficient evidence, the case moves to the charging phase. Here, the prosecutor decides whether to bring charges:

Grand Jury: In many federal cases, a grand jury reviews the evidence presented by the prosecutor and decides whether there is probable cause to indict the suspect.

Indictment: If the grand jury indicts the suspect, formal charges are filed in court.

3. Initial Hearing/Arraignment

After charges are filed, the defendant makes an initial court appearance:

Reading of Charges: The charges are read, and the defendant is informed of their rights.

Plea Entry: The defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Bail: The judge decides whether the defendant can be released on bail pending trial.

4. Pretrial Proceedings

Several key activities take place before the trial begins if the case is not resolved:

Discovery: Both the defense and prosecution exchange evidence and witness lists.

Motions: Pretrial motions may be filed such as a motion to suppress evidence.

Plea Negotiations: The defendant and prosecutor may negotiate a plea deal to avoid trial.

5. Trial

If the case proceeds to trial, it typically includes the following stages:

Jury Selection: A jury is selected through a process called voir dire.

Opening Statements: Both sides present their opening statements outlining their case.

Presentation of Evidence: The prosecution presents its case first, followed by the defense. This includes witness testimony and cross-examinations.

Closing Arguments: Both sides summarize their cases and attempt to persuade the jury.

Jury Deliberation: The jury deliberates in private to reach a verdict.

Verdict: The jury announces its decision. If the defendant is found guilty, the case moves to sentencing.

6. Sentencing

If the defendant is convicted, the judge will impose a sentence. Factors influencing the sentence include:

Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Judges consider these guidelines when determining the sentence.

Pre-sentence Investigation Report: A report prepared by a probation officer that includes background information on the defendant.

Victim Impact Statements: Statements from victims about how the crime affected them.

Sentencing Memorandum: Both Defense Counsel and the Government will submit Sentencing Memorandum making their respective arguments as to the sentence that Defendant should receive and why.

7. Appeal

The defendant may have the right to appeal the conviction or sentence. The appellate court reviews the case for legal errors that may have affected the verdict or sentence.

Fogt Law Can Help

We understand that every case is unique and requires a personalized approach. When you work with us, we will take the time to understand your case, gather all relevant information and evidence, and develop a customized strategy tailored to your specific needs and goals. We are committed to providing you with the highest level of legal representation and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Attorney Fogt has over 50 hours of Continuing Legal Education in Federal Criminal Law alone!

Attorney Fogt practices in the Southern District Court of Ohio. The Federal Courts are located in Cincinnati and Dayton. Feel free to contact us about other areas as well.


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