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What to Expect When Going to Trial for a Federal Crime

Posted by Ann Fitz | Apr 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you have been accused of a federal crime, you may be wondering what the trial process looks like. There are some differences between trying a federal case and trying a case in state court, so it's important to understand the process before you enter the courtroom. In this blog post, we'll explain the differences between federal and state trials and provide an overview of what you can expect during your federal criminal trial.

Differences Between Federal and State Criminal Proceedings

The biggest difference between trying a federal crime and trying one in state court is that all federal cases are tried in front of a jury. This means that 12 people—not just one judge—will hear your case and decide if you are guilty or not guilty. In contrast, some state criminal cases can be heard by either a judge or a jury depending on the circumstances. In addition, if convicted of a federal crime, there is usually no parole; instead, defendants must serve their full sentence unless pardoned by the President or granted clemency by another governmental official with the authority to do so.

What You Need to Know About Your Trial Process

When going through your trial process for a federal crime, here are some things that you should keep in mind:

• Your Rights: As with any other criminal proceedings, when charged with a federal crime it is important to remember your constitutional rights as outlined in the Fifth Amendment. This includes the right not to testify against yourself and the right to have an attorney present throughout your trial proceedings.

• Plea Bargains: Some defendants choose to negotiate plea bargains with prosecutors instead of going to trial. A plea bargain involves admitting guilt for one or more of the charges in exchange for reduced penalties or fewer charges than originally brought against them. It's important to discuss any plea bargain offers with your attorney before making any decisions about how to proceed with your case.

Evidence Presentation: During your trial proceedings, prosecutors will present evidence they believe proves beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged offenses. Your defense attorney will then present evidence they believe refutes these claims or calls into question its accuracy or relevance. For example, they may call witnesses who can provide testimony that supports your innocence or refute certain facts presented by prosecutors during their opening statements or evidence presentation.

• Closing Arguments: After all evidence has been presented, both attorneys will make closing arguments summarizing their respective cases and attempting to persuade jurors as to why their arguments are more sound than those put forward by opposing counsel. The prosecution goes first, followed by defense counsel's closing argument which may include references back to earlier points made by prosecutors during opening statements and evidence presentation phases of the trial process.

• Jury Deliberation & Verdict: Once both sides have finished presenting their arguments, jurors go off into seclusion where they deliberate amongst themselves until they reach a unanimous verdict regarding guilt or innocence on all counts charged against defendant (or until hung jury is declared). Jurors then return verdict which is read aloud in open court upon completion of deliberations phase of criminal proceedings.

If you have been charged with a federal crime it can be overwhelming at first but understanding what kind of trial process awaits you helps alleviate some of this stress and confusion surrounding potential conviction outcome(s) should case proceed all way up through jury deliberation & verdict stage without resolution via plea bargain agreement prior thereto . Knowing different parts & stages involved from start (arrest) through finish (if applicable) allows defendants better prepare themselves for what lies ahead & makes entire legal journey less daunting & more manageable overall given insight into criminal justice system's inner workings along way up through conclusion thereof – regardless final outcome!

About the Author

Ann Fitz

Attorney Ann Fitz Attorney Ann Fitz has 20 years of experience as a federal criminal attorney and appellate practice attorney.  She began her career as a prosecutor in 2003 and started her own federal criminal defense practice in 2007.  She is devoted to protecting the rights of the accused in f...


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