Frequently Asked Questions
Bail in federal cases- How does it work?
We do not use bail bondsmen in federal court like we do in state court. Bail in federal court is based on two factors: 1. Whether you are a flight risk, and 2. Whether you pose a danger to the community. When you make your initial appearance in federal court, the court holds a detention hearing. Depending upon the charges and the potential sentence, the government will either recommend detention, meaning no release on bail, or they will recommend some sort of bond. Federal bonds can either be an affidavit of surety without justification or an affidavit of surety with justification which is usually property. You can also post cash. The court ultimately determines whether you will be released and what type and what amount of bond is reasonable in your case. If you do not appear for court, the bond could be forfeited and the person that signed the bond, the surety, would have to pay the bond or the court could take the property. If you have been charged with a federal crime, please call my office.
What to do if you’re under federal investigation:
If you are under investigation by a Federal Agency, FBI, DEA, IRS, ATF, HSI, ICE…you should contact an attorney immediately. If a federal agent knocks on your door, be cooperative and polite but do not talk to them. It doesn’t matter if you are innocent or if you didn’t do anything wrong. It is always best not to speak to law enforcement without an attorney present. By hiring a lawyer, the minute you find out you are under investigation, you can potentially appear in court via a summons rather than being arrested. Your lawyer can discuss your case with the U.S. Attorney, agree on a bond amount and conditions of release and in some cases, work out a pre-indictment deal which is often much better than it might be if you waited to be charged. It’s always best to get in as early as possible, especially if you have information about other individuals who are under investigation or who have been charged. If you are under investigation by the feds, or if a search warrant has been executed at your home or your office, please contact my office.
What to do if the Feds show up with a search warrant:
Be polite and cooperative but DO NOT TALK TO THE AGENTS. These people are masters at interrogation and at getting people to talk to them. If you are not in custody, they do not have to read you Miranda rights. You are in custody if you are not free to leave. Tell them that you would like a lawyer present when you talk to them. Ask them for a business card and a copy of the search warrant. As soon as the search is done, call me! If a search warrant has been signed by a judge, it means that you will most likely be charged with a crime and the BEST thing you can do is get in front of it. Investigations can take months or sometimes years. That does not mean you will not be charged. If a search warrant has been executed at your home or your office, please contact my office right away.
What is the process of a federal case?
Your initial appearance in federal court is usually a Post Indictment Arraignment or PIA. This is where you enter a plea of Not Guilty and bail is set. Your case would be assigned to a district court judge for all purposes. A jury trial date would be set, which, in most cases, is changed. This is simply a placeholder to protect your right to a speedy trial. If you are pleading guilty, the next hearing would be the change of plea hearing. After that hearing, you would have your probation interview, also known as the PSI, where the probation department gathers information for the Pre-Sentence Report, also known as the PSR. Your sentencing hearing would be held no less than 10 weeks from the change of plea. Your lawyer will file your sentencing arguments two weeks before sentencing. You will not know your exact sentence until you are sentenced. The court will usually allow you to self-surrender to the bureau of prisons, if you are sentenced to imprisonment, 6 weeks or more from the sentencing date. This is a very brief summary of the process. Please watch the video for more information. If you are facing charges in federal court, please call my office and let me help.
How does federal sentencing work?
Federal Sentencing is based on a set of Sentencing Guidelines. This is the starting point for any federal sentence. Each offense is assigned a number of levels. The levels are increased based on certain offense characteristics like the amount of loss in a fraud case or the quantity of drugs in a drug case. There are other factors that can increase or decrease your offense level such as your role in the offense or the number of victims. The court then looks at your criminal history. Pleading guilty, or what is called acceptance of responsibility, reduces the sentence by 3 levels. After the guidelines are calculated, the court then looks at the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant, the need to protect the public, the seriousness of the offense and several other factors. That is where a great lawyer comes in to convince the court to sentence you to a sentence that is below the guidelines and I start working on that with my clients on day 1. If you are facing federal criminal charges, please call my office and let me help.