From Arrest to Acquittal: The Federal Defense Process Explained

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you are likely feeling very overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. Federal crime charges are complex legal proceedings, and because the federal criminal justice system operates differently from state systems, it is important to have more specialized knowledge and understanding of building an effective strategic defense to have your charge result in an acquittal. 

The Rickman Law Firm has the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to help federal criminal charges result in an acquittal. With the guidance of our specialized attorneys, you can navigate the federal defense legal process with confidence in your defense strategy. Our relentless pursuit of justice has led to countless successful post-trial acquittals, offering hope and relief to clients who believed all was lost. With unwavering dedication, we meticulously review trial evidence, scrutinize evidence, and work to fight for your innocence.

1. Arrest and Initial Appearance

By the time that you have been arrested by law enforcement, they will have already gathered “sufficient” evidence. During this period, your Tampa federal defense attorney will be gathering pieces of evidence while starting to build your defense strategy to present before the judge and the jury during trial. It is important to note that the prosecuting party will still be gathering evidence as we are.

The two types of evidence gathered include direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence supports a truthful fact and can be presented without any need for inference or interpretation. This type of evidence can include videographic evidence and eyewitness testimonies. Circumstantial evidence does require a degree of inference and interpretation and is indirectly obtained. This type of evidence includes statements and information that are not first-hand accounts.

After you have been arrested, you will also be brought before a judge for what is referred to as the “initial appearance.” During this stage, you will be presented with your charge(s) formally, as well as your rights during the legal process. Factors such as any previous criminal record, public safety, and flight risk are considered, as this stage may sometimes result in the decision on bail or detention. It is during this stage that you can also plead not guilty to the charges.

2. Discovery and Case Preparation

Following the initial hearing after an arrest, both parties will either begin or continue to gather evidence. This could include your attorney getting testimonies, pulling photographic and videographic evidence, and getting and consulting the interpretation of test results from medical and mental health professionals, among any other valid, relevant means of information to help defend you in court. Your attorney will continue to pull evidence until the trial proceedings begin.

However, after 10 days, both parties are required to explicitly disclose the evidence that they have gathered, referred to as discovery. This visibility will allow your Tampa federal defense lawyer to begin the next stage in bolstering your defense strategy. They will begin meticulously combing through the evidence that the prosecution has gathered, determining whether it is relevant, falsified or tampered with, or was gathered legally. This evidence is called exculpatory evidence and is frequently used as a challenging point during the trial.

3. Grand Jury Preliminary Hearing

While your Tampa federal defense lawyer is working toward your acquittal, you will likely be advised to plead not guilty during your initial appearance. If this is the case, there will be a preliminary hearing that is held. This preliminary hearing is sometimes referred to as a small-scale version of a trial. During this hearing, the prosecuting party will present evidence, and sometimes call witnesses, before a judge. Your lawyer will cross-examine those witnesses while challenging and refuting the prosecution’s evidence. 

It is during this stage that the grand jury will examine all evidence and arguments presented before making a decision as to whether the defendant really committed the crime. If the grand jury decides to drop the charges, then you will have been acquitted. If the grand jury decides to continue with the trial, then the federal defense process will continue. Your attorney will continue to strengthen your defense strategy and look for more evidence.

4. Trial

After a period, on average, of 6-18 months after filing, a trial will be held. While the trial is often the best-known aspect of the federal defense legal proceedings, it is vital that it is still regarded with caution and strategy. During this stage, your Tampa federal defense lawyer will fight for your justice before a judge and jury. Your defense case will be presented, while your attorney will challenge the prosecution’s evidence. 

The most important thing to note is that the jury must make an unanimous decision regarding the defendant’s innocence regarding their charge. Your attorney should have plenty of successful experience in defending cases like yours, including presenting extremely strong oral arguments and an effective presentation of your defense, swaying the judge and jury.

5. Acquittal

With success following your trial, the judge will deliver the verdict of your charge. With the right Tampa federal criminal defense lawyer on your side, your case will hopefully result in an acquittal and your charges will be dropped.

The Rickman Law Firm Can Guide You Through The Legal System to an Acquittal

With decades of experience, the highly-skilled attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm have seen countless federal criminal case defenses result in acquittal. We are equipped with the resources and knowledge base to effectively fight for your justice during the proceedings of your case.

Our law firm is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help fight for you. To set yourself up for acquittal, reach out to one of our attorneys by filling out our consultation form or calling us any time at 813-999-0502.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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