What to Do First When Faced With a Federal Criminal Charge

When you are charged with a federal offense, you may not understand what steps you need to take next. If you are seeking legal representation, you need to ensure that you retain a criminal defense lawyer who has tried federal cases in the past. 

Federal law is distinct from state law, and representing a criminal defendant in federal court is a highly specialized activity. Therefore, to ensure that your legal rights are enforced and protected, it is imperative that you search for a Seattle criminal defense attorney who possesses experience representing clients in federal court. 

1. Understanding the Seriousness of Federal Criminal Charges

Any indictment by the federal government must be taken seriously. You may have been arrested on a federal warrant and charged with a federal crime. You are not being prosecuted by a single state but by the United States of America. The federal government’s economic and political power is massive, and it is in your best interest to do everything within your power to defend yourself in federal court. 

The sentencing phase of a federal criminal trial can be intimidating for many criminal defendants. The sentencing guidelines used by judges in federal courts have a wide range of sentences. If you are convicted of a federal crime, you will face serious consequences, including multiple years of imprisonment, fines, and the loss of your right to vote. If you want to learn more about the possible repercussions of being convicted of violating federal law, then you should seek out a Seattle criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

2. Knowing Your Rights as an Accused

Miranda v. Arizona is one of the most important Supreme Court cases in the American judicial system. Individuals who are arrested or placed in custodial interrogation have the following rights available to them: 

  • The right to remain silent 
  • The right to an attorney

If an arrestee is not Mirandized then the statements they make cannot be admitted as evidence against them at trial. Essentially, it is important for you to know that you are not required by law to speak to federal officers or state officers if you have been accused of a crime or placed in custodial interrogation. You can invoke your right to remain silent and you can invoke your right to an attorney. You can ask for an attorney at any time during the investigation. Therefore, you should remember that these rights are available to any person who is arrested, accused of a crime, or placed in custodial interrogation by state officials or federal officials.

3. What Not to Do When Faced With Federal Charges

Many criminal defendants make mistakes when they are first arrested or placed in custodial interrogation by federal officers. Do not make these same mistakes, which can put you at risk of being convicted of a federal offense: 

  • Speaking to a federal officer without an attorney present 
  • Not obtaining legal representation for your defense 
  • Using social media to post information about your case 
  • Failing to understand the charges being brought against you 

The two most important things you can do to protect yourself during any criminal investigation are to remain silent and to seek out legal representation. Once you have a lawyer who can give you legal advice you will be in a better position to understand your own legal rights and to invoke those rights to be able to protect yourself. 

4. The Role of an Attorney in Your Defense

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you enforce your legal rights. Also, a criminal defense attorney will be able to negotiate with prosecutors to help you possibly enter a plea deal which can help you avoid harsher punishments. However, the effect a lawyer can have on your case depends on the facts associated with the criminal offenses related to the case. 

5. Preparing Your Defense

Individuals who are accused of a federal offense need a criminal defense attorney by their side. A good criminal defense lawyer will do the following: 

  • Investigate the facts of your case and the evidence used to support your arrest or detainment 
  • Interview witnesses, obtain copies of police reports and investigative reports 
  • Cross-examine witnesses 
  • File motions to have evidence suppressed so it cannot be used against you 
  • Represent you during trial and voice objections which will be reserved on appeal 

It is imperative to understand how important it is to seek out and speak to a criminal defense attorney about the options available to you for your defense. You do not want to stand up to the power of the federal government without a lawyer to protect your legal rights. If you want to learn more about the powerful influence a skilled lawyer can have on your case, then contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney today.