Federal Crimes Blog

Your Attorney’s Job in a Federal Criminal Case

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Mar 17, 2020

I think this is an important topic that a lot of people don't really understand and the reason they don't understand it is because they've probably never been charged with a federal crime before and they don't know exactly how the system works to even be able to figure out what their attorney's job is. Our federal criminal lawyers are providing an overview below.

So, I can give you a thumbnail sketch on what your attorney should be doing and kind of what I try to do and I've been doing this now for over 26 years all over the nation, mainly based out of Los Angeles, but just to kind of cut to it, your attorney should be looking to get you the best result in the case, and that involves negotiating with the prosecutors in a lot of cases because most of the cases that are filed in federal criminal courts are resolved by way of some sort of a plea bargain.

Negotiation with Federal Prosecutor for Best Outcome

That's one of the biggest jobs that attorneys have, is plea bargaining with the prosecutor and also figuring out who the judge is and what their tendencies are and making a good argument at the sentencing to try to get you a good sentence.

Part of that argument is filing a sentencing position paper on your behalf, talking to you about what you might say to the judge and obviously, figuring out themselves what they're going to argue to the judge and what makes sense in your particular case.

Your Attorney's Job in a Federal Criminal Case

Even going back further from the beginning of the case, one of you attorney's biggest jobs is going to be trying to negotiate a favorable plea bargain for you by way of what's called a plea agreement in federal court.  Basically, the plea agreement is given by the prosecutors to the defense.

The defense attorney will go over it with their client, explain everything to them and then the client will decide whether to accept or reject the plea agreement.  If they accept the plea agreement they'll sign it.

The attorney will sign it and the prosecutor signs it and then it's filed with the court and ultimately, they'll be a plea and then down the road they'll be a sentencing.

So, this plea agreement is obviously a very crucial document and you want to try to talk the prosecutors early about it if this is how you're going to handle the case if you're the defense attorney.  That's one of the biggest things a defense attorney is doing, is really trying to figure out how to get that best plea agreement.

Violation's of Your Constitutional Rights

Now sometimes you have a case where the government has arguably violated your client's constitutional rights.  Then the attorney's job in the federal case is going to be trying to figure out how to take the government to task related to the violation of the person's constitutional rights.

For example, lets say they have illegally stopped a person or illegally searched a person.  Then the defense attorney is going to need to file a motion with the court.  They'll probably be a hearing and they'll probably be witnesses who are called to testify.

The defense attorney and the prosecutor will be able to ask the witness questions and ultimately the judge will decide whether or not the person's constitutional rights were violated and if so, they will be looking to take away evidence that the prosecutors are trying to use to convict the person. If this happens, a lot of times the prosecutor's case will be gone because they won't have their evidence available anymore to use against a particular criminal defendant.

So, trying to attack the government's evidence is definitely one of the attorney's jobs if they can do it if there's grounds for it.  Cross-examining witnesses and these motions and figuring out the plea bargain.

Fighting Federal Case in a Jury Trial

Then, ultimately, if you can't win the case by way of a motion and you don't want to plea bargain the case and you don't want to get a plea agreement from the government, or your client can't agree on the plea agreement, then your attorney's job is going to be fighting the case in front of a jury and attempting to get you a not guilty verdict with the jury.

So, your attorney's job is very important.  They are tasked with asserting all of your constitutional rights and guiding you through the federal criminal system to make sure that in the end all your rights are preserved.

That all your rights are protected and that you end up with the best possible resolution so you can move forward in your life with the least amount of damage to your reputation, your freedom, your rights and everything that's important to you. It should be noted you can increase your chances at a favorable outcome be hiring an attorney early in the criminal case process, such as during the initial federal criminal investigation.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office  for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.

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