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Charged With a Federal Crime: What You Should Know

Being charged with a crime can be one of the most stressful periods in your lifetime. There are so many processes that you have to go through that you might be unfamiliar with. The right attorney can help immensely as they can ease your stress by informing you of what happens next. Being charged with a federal crime is extremely serious and it could take a long period to resolve itself. You are going to need a federal attorney as a traditional crime like a DUI has a much different process and penalties. This is not the time to think that you can defend yourself as this is often unwise. The following are things that you should know about being charged with a federal crime. 

The Right Attorney Matters

You are going to need an experienced attorney when dealing with a federal crime. The attorney should be well-versed in the type of crime that you are charged with. There might be an attorney with an accounting background that can help with charges like federal tax evasion. You want to hire your attorney immediately after you have been charged. You do not want to show up to your initial appearance alone as this could be a recipe for disaster. Take time to research attorneys that work in the court you will be appearing in. There is a chance they have a good relationship with the prosecutor which can lead to a favorable plea deal. Trial experience is also essential as prosecutors understand which attorneys do not want to take a case to trial. 

How You Will Be Charged 

Being arrested by a local police department will mean you will have a bond hearing. Federal charges are different as you could be arrested by federal investigators working the case. The case will then be transferred to the US attorney handling your case. You could receive a letter that informs you of an initial hearing. As soon as you receive this letter, you need to reach out to an attorney. They will understand the process which is more complicated than being charged by local courts. 

The Target Letter

You will receive a target letter if you have committed a crime like mail fraud or embezzlement of company funds. The letter means that the US attorney has confidence in the information that the investigators have collected. A grand jury will have to charge you with the crime and the letter will contain the information below:

  • You will be informed of the crimes that you are suspected of committing alone with being notified that you are a target of a federal grand jury investigation. 
  • You will also have the right to avoid self-incrimination by pleading the 5th amendment. 
  • There will also be information about penalties if you miss hearings.

Being charged with a federal crime does not mean you cannot fight the case. Even local crimes can be considered federal if you crossed state lines. A stolen vehicle that is taken across state lines is a great example of a case that you could be charged federally in.