FEDERAL CRIMINAL PROSECUTION—THE PROCESS
At Bilecki Law Group, We believe every service member has earned their right to an aggressive defense on their day in court. We specialize in taking the fight to the prosecution and winning cases that others said were unwinnable.
Federal Criminal Prosecution Process: Overview
When somebody is accused of a federal crime in the state of Hawaii, he or she will be subject to a formal process which begins with an arrest warrant and ends with a court verdict, sentencing, and finally, an opportunity to appeal the outcome.
The federal court system will not follow this process exactly every time. Some individuals may be exonerated before a trial even begins. Others will fight for an acquittal long after their trial, sometimes waiting years before the appeal is processed by the federal court system. In this way, federal courts are similar to how offenses are processed by state courts.
Also like state courts, federal courts will categorize offenses by felonies and misdemeanors. A single misdemeanor charge warrants a maximum of 1 year in prison. Felony charges leave open the possibility of life in prison. You can find the steps to this process below. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact Bilecki Law Group for a free consultation into your federal criminal case.
The Federal Prosecution Process
Step 1: An Arrest Is Made
Once federal law enforcement officials have enough evidence against someone, they will prepare a warrant of arrest to be signed by a judge. The warrant is sent out to the Federal District Court along with an affidavit describing why a warrant should be granted. These documents are then filed by the Federal District Court and, if the complaint is strong enough, a judge will sign it and the warrant will be granted.
Step 2: The Accused Is Granted an Initial Appearance Before a Judge
After the accused has been arrested, he or she will appear before a magistrate judge for an initial appearance prior to the trial. The purpose of this is for the accused to understand his or her rights during the trial process. This includes a discussion regarding a defense attorney, preparation of a bond hearing, and rights afforded while in custody. A federal prosecutor will also be present during this hearing and may attempt to keep the person in custody, without bond.
Step 3: Flight Risk Review and Detention Hearing:
Step 4: Establishing Probable Cause with a Preliminary Hearing:
Step 5: Summoning of a Grand Jury:
Step 6: Establishing Probable Cause before a Grand Jury
Once a complaint has been filed, an Assistant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office will offer evidence to the Grand Jury as to why there is probable cause for the arrest and for the subsequent trial. Witnesses may be called and evidence may be allowed before the jury in an attempt to persuade them of probable cause.
During this step of the process, the accused’s attorney may not offer evidence against probable cause or even appear in the courtroom.
Step 7: Grand Jury Votes to Indict the Accused
Step 8: Accused Read Charges in Arraignment
Step 9: Plea Agreement Is Prepared and Accepted/Denied
Step 10: Trial Begins
During the trial, both the defense and the prosecution will provide opening statements, have opportunities to deliver forensic evidence and other physical evidence into the courtroom, and invite witnesses to take the stand. Trials can last days, weeks, or even months depending on how much evidence or witness testimony is presented.
Once all evidence and witness testimony is presented, the defense and prosecution will provide closing statements and the jury will make deliberations. The trial will end with the defendant being found guilty, innocent, or in the case of a hung jury, a mistrial will occur.
Step 11: Punishment Is Considered by a Judge and Federal Probation Officer
If the defendant is found guilty, a Federald Probation Officer will review the case, the victims, and all the evidence, and make recommendations for sentencing to the judge. The judge will then have time to go over the officer’s recommendations before ultimately deciding on final sentencing.
Step 12: Sentencing Is Delivered by a Judge
The defendant and his or her attorney will be brought into court to hear the final sentencing by a judge. This may include a federal prison sentence, fines, and other punishments.
Step 13: Defendant Has a Chance to Appeal
Upon request, the defendant may appeal to have some or all of the verdict or the sentencing reviewed a second time. The defendant often has a short timeframe to enter an appeal, often within 30 days of sentencing.