Is it Possible to Resolve a Federal Criminal Case Before Charges Are Actually Filed in Court?
The answer to this question is yes. I have engaged in many prefiling negotiations with prosecutors. Of course, the circumstances have to be right for this.
Typically, the prosecutors will contact the defendant or if they know the defendant has an attorney, they can call the attorney and let them know they are about to indict that person.
Sometimes, they even indict the person, but don't actually have the person go to court.
Especially now with the coronavirus, I've had some cases where a person gets indicted, the government contacts the person or person's attorney, and basically begins to negotiate with the attorney.
They will them about what they would want in order to resolve the case.
Review Discovery and Defense Strategy
A lot of times, the federal prosecutor will even turn over all of the:
Whatever they have related to the case so that the attorney and the defendant can go through that information and that will help them better decide exactly how they want to proceed with the case.
The government will do this in a federal criminal case when they feel that they have the evidence against the person. They want to make things go easily and smoothly.
They feel like they've got a good case against the person, so instead of going and grabbing the person, arresting them, bringing them into court within a day or two.
Then, start that process, sometimes it's just much easier to reach out to the defendant or their attorney and handle the matter that way. It depends on the:
- type of federal case, and
- the prosecutor.
Sometimes they might want to detain the people and keep them in custody while the case is pending, especially on a serious case.
If that's the situation, they're likely not going to engage in any type of prefiling or prefiling negotiations.
Arrest and Placed in Federal Custody
They're going to want to arrest you and put you in custody and then deal with the case in front of the judge, turn over the discovery at that point.
Then, a lot of times they don't want to tip the person off by calling their attorney to let them know they're going to arrest them and take them into custody.
Because they're very concerned that the person might flee the jurisdiction — might make it difficult for that individual to be able to post a bond. So, they might be tempted to avoid being arrested by the police.
What I can tell you is that I've been doing this for 26 years; have handled hundreds of federal cases, very familiar with how the system works. You can handle matters prefiling.
You can also handle matters after the case has been filed but the defendant hasn't gone to court.
Working Out a Resolution With Prosecutor Before Court
Typically what we're going to do when we're handling these matters if we're going to work out a resolution, we work out the resolution, then we go into court and appear in front of the judge.
It's kind of pro forma because we already know the person is typically going to be kept out of custody, the government won't argue for the person to go into custody.
We're going to enter the plea in front of the judge who the case gets assigned to, and ultimately, we're going to end up doing a sentencing and dealing with the case.
The one thing that people don't understand about federal criminal cases is, when you plead, you don't know exactly what your sentence is.
Because ultimately, the sentencing judge will be the one who decides that based on review of the Sentencing Guidelines, the probation report, and of course, the positions of both the prosecutor and the defense attorney.
So, a lot of times, it is much easier to get yourself involved in prefiling negotiations, that way you know exactly how the case is going to be handled and you put yourself in a much stronger position to get a better resolution.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.