What To Do After Receiving a Federal Indictment
A federal indictment is a formal legal document that charges an individual with a federal crime. Usually, an indictment is issued after a grand jury convenes and determines that there is probable cause to believe that the subject of the indictment committed the crime in question.
This is slightly different than in state court, where a judge usually determines if there is probable cause. Prosecutors actually have a harder job in federal cases, because, instead of convincing one judge that there is probable cause, the prosecutor must convince an entire jury. With that said, because federal indictments are difficult to obtain, often they are only sought by federal prosecutors when they think that they can obtain one, i.e, when they have a strong case. Because of this, criminal cases in federal court have an extremely high conviction rate, above 90% in most jurisdictions.
If You Have Been Federally Indicted…
Have you been issued a federal indictment? If so, this is an extremely serious time in your life. Many federal crimes have the potential to result in long prison sentences. Combine that with the high conviction rate in federal court and it equals a serious situation for the federal criminal defendant. Everything must be done to increase your chances acquittal or, if that is not an option, create a strong case for mitigation.
Receiving a federal indictment, while serious, does not mean that one should give up hope and succumb to the wishes of the prosecutor. There is always something to benefit from having an experienced federal defense attorney at your side throughout the entire federal criminal proceeding.
First, an experienced federal defense attorney can determine what defenses may be applicable in your specific circumstance. For example, evidence seized illegally under the 4th Amendment must be suppressed and cannot be considered by the court. In many cases where evidence is suppressed, the charges get dropped. Other cases may hinge on the reliability of scientific evidence; so even if it seems like hope is lost, that isn’t necessarily the case.
In some cases the prosecutors have a strong case. In these situations, an experienced attorney can create a strong case for mitigation, hoping to convince the sentencer to be lenient and sentence the defendant in the lower range of the sentencing guidelines.
The bottom line is that being federally indicted is a serious matter, but not so much that one should give up hope. There is always something that can be done to increase the chances of acquittal or at least the opportunity to convince the court to implement a fair sentence.
If you have been issued a federal indictment, you need to consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Doing so will ensure that you are well represented during what is likely going to be the most important, stressful time of your life.