Federal charges are extremely serious and should never be taken lightly. Federal Agents will often make arrests when they know individuals are least likely to put up a “fight”, like in the middle of the night, or in the early morning when you are not yet fully awake. This may be the scariest moment in your life, but do not let these tactics scare you into speaking to law enforcement officers without your lawyer present.
Whether it’s you or your husband, wife, or child, the agents may tell you some information about why this is happening and what will happen next… if they are nice. However, odds are, they won’t be.
You or your loved one has just been arrested by federal agents – what will happen now?
In this instance, things vary a little bit from court to court and there may be things going on in you or your loved one’s situation that make it a bit different. However, for the federal court process, a good starting point is as follows:
The Initial Appearance
You or your loved one should be taken in front of a judge for a hearing. This hearing is called the “initial appearance” and this is where you will find out what the charges are and what rights they may have under the law. The judge will likely also determine at this hearing whether your loved one will be detained in jail before their trial (assuming the charges end up going to trial), or whether bail will be granted.
Therefore, the first thing you should do is find out when and where the hearing will be. Hopefully, the agent told you something about the charges and where they’re coming from. If so, search the name of the court that the agent gave you on Google. Then, call that court’s pretrial services office and tell them about the arrest. Make sure you ask if they know what time the hearing will be. If it’s early, they may not know yet so make sure to call hourly until they do.
Hire a Federal Defense Lawyer
Now it is time to find an experienced federal defense attorney to hire. In regard to the initial appearance, hiring a lawyer may not seem as important as getting you or your family member out of jail and back home. However, it is extremely important and should be the main focus before the hearing. In many districts, the judge will have the federal public defender’s office handle the initial appearance regardless of whether the person is going to hire a lawyer later. This is a good idea if you are unable to have a lawyer in place the few hours before the hearing.
It is also important to note, if you or your loved one have never been arrested before and it’s not a crime of violence, there will be a strong chance that you or they will not remain detained. If this is the case, you have a little bit more time to find a lawyer.
Attend the Hearing
Give yourself plenty of time before the hearing to go to the courthouse. Before the hearing, find and go to the pretrial services office and check in. They may have questions that could help with the release. Just make sure any information you give is accurate and truthful.
Then, find the courtroom where the hearing will be. Whether the courtroom closed and locked or open, talk to someone in there who is dressed like a lawyer, someone who is in the front room, or a public defender to find out when the hearing will be.
After the Hearing
After the hearing, hopefully you or your loved one are walking out and heading home.
In the unfortunate instance that the above does not happen, ask where he or she is being held, then call that jail and ask what their visiting hours are, as well as find out how to put money on an account there so your family member can buy supplies or snack food.
Then, if you haven’t already, start the work of hiring a lawyer and working with them to learn how a federal criminal case works.
Call for a free consultation today
Premier Federal Criminal Defenders has more that 35 years of federal criminal defense experience. Call today to learn more about your rights under both state and federal law. We offer a free initial case consultation, and we are ready to defend you and your family in either state or federal court.