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UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
Federal Court
Federal law (as opposed to State law) applies. Some cases may be filed in either Federal or State Court. The decision is solely up to the prosecutors. In very rare cases a person may be prosecuted in both Federal and State court.

Federal Cases are often much more complex and require more time to prepare than State Cases.

Sentencing in Federal Court is determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Federal Judges have much less discretion in determining an appropriate sentence because of the Sentencing Guidelines, which often include mandatory minimum sentences.

In Federal Court, there is much less latitude in plea bargaining and the judge (Federal Magistrate) very seldom gets involved in plea negotiations.




THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
THE BASICS
THE CASE
THE COURTS

IMPORTANT!
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PRE-FILE ALERT:
Don't Wait Until You Are Arrested!

If you even suspect that you may be charged with a crime, speak to an attorney now!

Very often before formal charges are filed, there is an investigation. Law enforcement tries to gather as much evidence as possible to build their case against you. This is the pre-file stage of a case.

This pre-file period can be the most crucial stage of a criminal case. Since you haven't been arrested, you don't have any Miranda Rights. This is when most people fall into law enforcement traps designed to destroy their legal case.

Learn more

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APPEALS ALERT!
Blakely v. Washington May
Give You a Second Chance

If you or someone you know was sentenced after 1998 (if the conviction was appealed) or 2000 (if there was no appeal), the new United States Supreme Court decision in Blakely vs. Washington may provide a second change to review your sentence!

WHAT TO DO IF ...
If Arrested
If Accused or Under Investigation
Members: NACDL and ABA
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