Judicial Process

Being accused of committing a FEDERAL CRIME is very serious and can carry life altering consequences. If you or someone you know has been arrested, or is being investigated for a FEDERAL OFFENSE, you need advice from an experienced Los Angeles federal criminal defense lawyer. Protect your rights and your freedom….

Federal Crimes are prosecuted in the United States District Court and are subject to federal law. Federal cases are usually more complex than state crimes and require more preparation and experience than a State felony or misdemeanor crime. While most attorneys can adequately represent you in State court, very few have the knowledge and experience to represent you in Federal Court

The following is an overview of the federal criminal process:

The process begins with a U.S. attorney (the prosecutor) and a grand jury. The U.S attorney represents the United States in all criminal proceedings and will present evidence to a grand jury. The grand jury will then decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to require a defendant to stand trial.

If an arrest is made, a Pre-Trial Services officer, or probation officer will interview the defendant and begin an investigation into the defendant’s background. The results of the investigation will be presented to a judge who will then determine whether or not to release the defendant before trial or impose restrictions on release.

During an initial appearance, the defendant will be advised of the charges filed. At that time the judge will consider the charges and determine if there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed, will consider the probation officers background investigation report, and will decide whether or not the defendant will be held in jail until the trial.

The next step in the process is the arraignment. During the arraignment the defendant will >enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge will, in most cases, schedule a hearing to determine the sentence. The probation office prepares a pre-sentence report that the judge will take into consideration when passing sentence. If the defendant pleads “not guilty”, a trial will be scheduled.

The federal criminal court system will allow certain pretrial discovery proceedings however they are restricted in order to “protect” the identity of informants. At this time, the federal criminal defense attorney may file motions to suppress certain evidence that may have been obtained by the government in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

During the trial, the U.S. attorney acting on behalf of the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and, if the defendant is found not guilty, the U.S. attorney may not appeal the decision nor can they file the same charges again against the defendant. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge must pass sentence according preset sentencing guidelines. The United States Sentencing Commission is responsible for setting and administering the guidelines and the judge will have very little leeway in diverting from these guidelines.

The sentencing guidelines are based on a very complex and complicated point system, the higher the point, the more severe the sentence. Points may be added or subtracted based on certain criteria, such as previous criminal past, value to the community, stability, etc. For a complete list of the penalties and their point values please refer http://www.ussc.gov/Guidelines/2012_Guidelines/Manual_PDF/2012_Guidelines_Manual_Full.pdf.

Federal sentencing guidelines require that judges must impose pre-determined minimum mandatory sentence and, even though the judges may feel that the sentence is excessive, they have virtually no authority to deviate from those guidelines. A federal offense attorney who can navigate the complicated point system upon which the sentencing guidelines are based, may be able to successfully argue your case in federal court resulting in a reduced sentence or even dismissal.

Not all defendants found guilty in a federal court will face prison. Many defendants will have sentences reduced to paying fines and restitution, counseling or treatment programs, or probation. Lawrence Wolf has been a pioneer in developing all forms of alternative sentencing such as house arrest and diversionary programs.

The Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf have been helping individuals charged with federal crimes for over 30 years. Mr. Wolf has both prosecuted and defended thousands of adults and juveniles charged with every type of felony and misdemeanor crime.

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Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Disclaimer: The felony, misdemeanor, traffic, criminal defense, drunk driving, DUI, theft, drugs, three strikes law, juvenile law, or other legal criminal defense information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results portrayed here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ if based on different facts.