When you are charged with a federal crime, you can expect the government to move quickly and spare no resources to arrive at a conviction. Defending yourself against federal criminal charges without the help of a skilled defense attorney is a risky approach and often unsuccessful. The attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, discuss the role of a federal criminal defense attorney and the many ways an attorney can help you turn your case in your favor.
How Are Federal Criminal Charges Handled by the Courts?
A federal crime is a criminal offense that violates federal laws. These crimes are typically investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI and prosecuted in a federal district court. White-collar crimes such as fraud and identity theft, as well as crimes that cross state borders or affect the entire nation, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, or espionage, are all examples of federal crimes.
A federal criminal case is usually handled by a United States District Judge or a Federal Magistrate Judge. The federal judge may rely on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to decide the penalty issued to a defendant found guilty of their charges. These guidelines suggest a minimum and a maximum sentence for certain offenses and may include harsher sentences for those with a previous conviction. Federal sentences typically include significant fines and prison time, depending on the severity of the offense. If the defendant of a federal case would like to appeal their verdict, their appeal will be heard by a United States Court of Appeal. In Virginia, appeal cases are handled by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
What Does a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
A federal criminal defense attorney represents clients charged with a federal criminal offense, such as white-collar crimes. A federal defense attorney is knowledgeable of federal criminal laws and case law and can apply their knowledge to help clients defend themselves against federal charges. The attorney can help the client understand the crimes they are being accused of, explain their chances of reaching a positive outcome, and create a defense strategy that is appropriate for their case.
An attorney can represent their client during a federal trial and can also play a critical role during the phases leading up to the trial. This may include investigating the case, conducting plea bargain negotiations, and exploring all options available to help their client avoid or reduce penalties commonly associated with federal cases, such as prison time, fines, restitution, or probation. If going to trial is the right choice for the case, the attorney can also assist the client with the steps required to prepare for the trial, such as conducting a practice run to ensure the client is ready to handle the prosecution’s questioning and can maintain their composure under pressure.
Do I Need a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Even if I Am Still Being Investigated?
One of the facts that sets federal criminal charges apart from state charges is the level of resources and time invested into the investigation phase of a case. It is not uncommon for federal case suspects to be under investigation for several months before any charges are filed, and these investigations are typically handled by some of the most highly skilled agents and investigators. In other words, by the time charges are formally pressed against a suspect and an arrest is made, the prosecution already has a sizable amount of evidence and information to build their case against the suspect.
If you have reasons to believe that you may be under investigation for a federal criminal defense, it is in your best interest to reach out to a federal criminal defense attorney right away. Instead of waiting until you are actually charged, taking prompt action can be beneficial for your case as your attorney can advise you on what you should and shouldn’t do during the investigation in order to have the best chances of securing a better outcome for your case. Hiring an attorney before you are charged will also be beneficial because it will give your attorney extra time to build a defense strategy in your favor.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Federal Defense Attorney?
If you have been arrested for a federal criminal charge, you may be concerned about the cost of hiring a criminal defense attorney. Each attorney may have a varying fee schedule depending on their experience, credentials, and skills. In addition, the level of complexity of your case can also affect how much you end up paying in legal fees. For example, if your case is challenging and you have previous criminal convictions that may aggravate your charges, you may have higher legal fees than a first-time offender.
However, the cost of hiring a federal defense attorney is but a small investment compared to the potential million-dollar fines and long prison sentences you may be facing if convicted of a federal crime. Your attorney’s main goal is to help you avoid a conviction, but when that is not possible, your attorney will focus on helping you obtain a better outcome, such as a lesser sentence or probation instead of prison time. Without an attorney, there are no guarantees that your constitutional rights will be protected, and you may be facing the maximum penalty for your charges.
At The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients navigate their federal and state criminal charges and defend their interests in the courtroom. If you are facing federal charges, contact The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, as soon as possible at 703-688-9236.