What You Need to Know If a Loved One is Arrested for a Federal Crime Part 2

If your loved one is facing federal charges, they cannot rely on just any attorney to represent them. Penalties for federal crimes can be severe. Help your loved one by ensuring they have a federal defense attorney in Tampa that has extensive experience successfully defending clients in federal cases.

This article will conclude our two-part series. Read part one to learn about how a criminal case begins.

Preliminary Hearing

Your loved one is entitled to a preliminary hearing (a brief court appearance), which can be thought of as a trial before the trial. The preliminary hearing, or probable cause hearing, is where evidence will be introduced and witnesses will be cross-examined. The judge will decide if there was probable cause to arrest your loved one for the charges in question. It is a critical step in the process because evidence against your loved one can lead to a trial or the charges can be dismissed entirely.


An arraignment is a formal court hearing where the charges against your loved one are read and they are asked to enter a plea of either not guilty, guilty, or no contest.

  • Pleading guilty is an acceptance that one has violated the law and is ready to accept the penalty. If pleading guilty, a sentence will be given.
  • Pleading no contest is the same as pleading guilty; however, one is not admitting to breaking the law rather they are allowing the court to resolve their case.
  • When pleading not guilty a future court date is set and your loved one along with their attorney will prepare for a trial.

It is wise for your loved one to discuss how they will plead with their attorney. It is wise to listen to your attorney’s recommendations as they know what the best strategy for your case is. They can also discuss (with their attorney) issuing a written plea ahead of time or entering a plea bargain.


Everyone is entitled to a trial by jury in a criminal case. During a trial, the defendant appears before the judge and both sides of the case are argued. The defendant may also give a statement. Going to trial has its advantages and disadvantages. A number of factors (i.e., witnesses, evidence, etc.) influence the type of penalties the defendant will face from fines to prison to probation, or whether the case is dropped.

For a free consultation with an experienced attorney from our criminal defense law firm in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

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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